Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Teaching Activities > Life Mode Characteristics

Life Mode Characteristics

Steven J. Hageman
Appalachian State University
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 4, 2009


This exercise provides a standardized format that can be used to describe the life mode and its characteristics for most any organism or group of organisms.

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Upper-level undergraduate general paleontology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

General introduction to common fossils (e.g. introductory historical geology or biology).

How the activity is situated in the course

Stand alone, early in the sequence of lab exercises.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Context to describe and compare groups in a complex system.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This exercise does not involve higher order thinking. It sets a context in which higher order thinking can be accomplished later.

Other skills goals for this activity

Develops skills in observation. Makes connections between inert fossil specimens and the ecology of living organisms.

Description of the activity/assignment

This exercise provides a standardized format that can be used to describe the life mode and its characteristics for most any organism or group of organisms. This format is used (reinforced) in many other exercises as the context for comparing and contrasting clades within and among systematic groups. The classification also provides a context for discussing patterns and trends in evolution and ecology.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Tested directly and indirectly. Usually a content of the research paper and web site.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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