MnSCU Partnership > Teaching Activities > Characterization of Freshwater Ecosystems: Group Collaborative Learning and Peer review

Characterization of Freshwater Ecosystems: Group Collaborative Learning and Peer review

Dr. Thomas Dilley, Southwest Minnesota State University; Dr. Emily Deaver, Southwest Minnesota State Univ.; Dr. Craig Longtine, North Hennepin Community College; Robert Sand, Anoka Technical College

This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.


The project entails several classroom sessions such as an overview of the ecology of the lake system using scientific literature. Lake parameters to be characterized will be identified as a class: physical aspects of the water body including geomorphology, watershed boundaries, soil types, water chemistry, dominant aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates (population densities and sensitivity to pollutants). Students will be divided into pairs based on self-evaluation of writing and oral presentation skills, computer/technology skills, and math and lab or field skills. Pairs of students will focus on one or more aspects of the overall project and collect field data on that feature, working together as a team in the field. Teams will work to analyze and evaluate data and present data in appropriate tables, graphs, figures (i.e. GIS). At this point each team will present data to other teams in a peer-review process. Peer reviewers will provide feedback on analytical methods used, clarity of data presentation and appropriateness of conclusions. A draft poster will also be peer-reviewed. Team posters will be generated that characterize the lake system as a whole. Students will then present a formal presentation of the entire project to the public.

Learning Goals

  1. Experience group research project
  2. Make field observations
  3. Learn how to ask relevant questions (within the context of the project)
  4. Learn field data measurement techniques
  5. Develop quantitative skills
  6. Build teamwork skills
  7. Develop communication skills (oral and written)
  1. Use specific instruments or test kits
  2. Develop communication skills (oral and written)- create a poster

Context for Use

Description and Teaching Materials

Teaching Notes and Tips


References and Resources