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Paleontology

Author Profile
Peg Yacobucci
,
http://personal.bgsu.edu/~mmyacob/
,
mmyacob@bgsu.edu

Bowling Green State University
a
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs
.

Summary

Covers general principles of paleontology; selected key events in the history of life on Earth; major groups of fossil invertebrate animals. A weekly two-hour lab, two Saturday field trips, and an independent research project are required components of the course.

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

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-level undergraduate course, also taken by M.S. students. It is required for Paleobiology concentrators but an elective for other Geology majors. Earth Science Education, Biology Education, and Biology majors also frequently take the course as an elective. Introductory historical geology is the only prerequisite; with instructor permission, students may substitute an introductory biology course.

Course Goals:

- Students should be able to evaluate the quality of the fossil record
- Students should be able to analyze morphology and morphological variation
- Students should be able to assess the composition and diversity of a marine invertebrate fossil assemblage
- Students should be able to determine evolutionary relationships among groups
- Students should be able to synthesize the basics of modern evolutionary theory with the work of paleontologists on macroevolutionary questions
- Students should be able to tell time with fossils
- Students should be able to critically assess current ideas on the origin of life and of modern animal groups
- Students should be able to integrate new data on the major mass extinction events into arguments for the role these events play in shaping the history of life on Earth


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

This course provides a broad range of individual and group activities to promote and assess student learning, including labs, writing assignments, field trips, class discussions of reading assignments, an independent research project (with oral and written products), and in-class and take-home exams. For example, lab, field trip, and exam questions ask students to "do" things with provided data. Class discussions, writing assignments, and the independent research project provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their higher order thinking skills both verbally and in writing.

Skills Goals

- Students should be able to critically evaluate current research trends and contributions in paleontology
- Students should be able to define, plan, and conduct a paleontological research project, and communicate their findings to others


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

A core goal of the course is to get students comfortable reading about and critically discussing current paleontological research, in preparation for them to be able to define, plan, and conduct their own research project. Written homework assignments and in-class discussions of reading assignments give the students experience in locating, reading, summarizing, and evaluating research articles. The semester-long independent research project (which includes a written proposal, progress report, and final report plus a final oral presentation in class) gives them their first taste of "real" research and gives me ample opportunities to assess their writing, presenting, and critical evaluation skills.

Assessment

This course provides a broad range of individual and group activities used to assess student learning, including labs, writing assignments, field trips, class discussions of reading assignments, an independent research project (with oral and written products), and in-class and take-home exams.

Syllabus:

Syllabus for Paleontology Course (Microsoft Word 828kB Jun11 09)

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