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Paleobiology and Paleontology

Author Profile
Sarah Fowell
,
ffsjf@uaf.edu

University of Alaska Fairbanks
a
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs
.

Summary

Basic anatomy and morphology of common invertebrate fossils, methods of analysis, and applications to geologic dating and environmental reconstruction

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Paleontology
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Course Size:

15-30

Course Context:

This is an upper-division invertebrate paleontology course required for students seeking a BS degree in geology. The course has a weekly three-hour laboratory. It is also a writing intensive course which requires students to complete multiple drafts of a research paper. Prerequisites include historical geology or introductory biology, introduction to academic writing, and an additional academic writing course.

Course Goals:

1. Students should be able to recognize and identify members of 9 fossil animal phyla and label key anatomical features

2. Students should be able to identify, compare and contrast 2 phyla of modern and fossil protists

3. Students should be able to recognize and classify fossil plant organs and animal traces

4. Students should be able to reconstruct the taphonomic history of a given fossil or fossil assemblage

5. Students should be able to use fossils to constrain the age of the enclosing rock

6. Students should be able to reconstruct the environment of deposition of a fossil-bearing rock

7. Students should be able to construct a cladogram to show the relationships between any set of 3 or more organisms


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The course if built around specimen-based laboratory exercises. Classroom activities are generally designed to help prepare students for the labs. Formative assessments include clicker questions, group brainstorming exercises, and cladogram construction. Summative assessments include lab exercises, 3 exams, and a practicum.

Skills Goals

1. Students should be able to locate, read, and concisely summarize journal articles on a selected paleontological theme

2. Students should be able to compare and contrast two related articles using a point-by-point or lens format


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

During the first few weeks of the semester, students are given two journal articles that relate to course content and asked to write a short, 2-page compare and contrast paper on the thesis of their choosing. Upon receiving feedback, the students repeat this exercise with a new pair of papers. For their third and final paper, students first select a topic and submit a list of promising references. After locating all the references, they submit and outline and a thesis statement, followed (a few weeks later) by a first draft. I provided detailed feedback on the first draft, but I do not grade it. The second, revised draft is evaluated and graded.

Attitudinal Goals



How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:


Assessment

Syllabus:

Course Syllabus for Paleobiology and Paleontology (Microsoft Word 124kB May15 09)

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