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Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) WarmUp Activity: Are Primates Worth Saving?

Laura Guertin, Penn State University Delaware County
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1) What are some of the reasons extinction rates are so high for modern primates?

2) Why are some primates worth more dead than alive? Is there a way we as a society can change this? Explain your thoughts.

3) If the habitat is going to disappear anyway, should we bother with the time/effort/$$$ to save these primates? Why/why not? What might the loss be in the "bigger picture"?

Student Responses:

See the Just-in-Time Teaching page on assessment for information and ideas on how to evaluate student responses.

Students have commented that completing a JiTT exercise on this topic "opened up my eyes to the real problems deep within the African jungles. I had no idea how bad the situation looked for the primates in Africa." Students may follow-up with questions such as: "how do primates help their ecosystem continue to flourish? In one of the articles it spoke about the important role they played in supporting their ecosystem. But I really didn't understand how this occurs, what actually happens." Students have typically commented on primates in Hollywood films and how they have been portrayed, such as Mighty Joe Young and Congo. Issues of law enforcement in protecting primates in Africa is a topic students have shown much interest in learning more about.

References and Notes:

Articles that students may be assigned to read for this set of questions include (but are not limited to):

Extinction Risk for 1 in 3 Primates, Study Says, National Geographic News, October 2002.

UN Launches Campaign to Save Last Great Apes in the Wild, National Geographic News, May 2001.

Near Total Ape-Habitat Loss Foreseen By 2030, National Geographic News, September 2002.

The use of Just-in-Time Teaching is discussed in detail on the JiTT Starting Point page.

Additional information on JiTT is available in the book:

  • Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology. Novak et al., 1999 The authors explain what Just-in-Time Teaching is, its underlying goals and philosophies, and how to implement it. They also provide an extensive section of tested resource materials that can be used in introductory physics courses with the JiTT approach. (citation and description)