Overview

In this activity, students learn how to construct phylogenetic trees based on evolutionary traits using three different example scenarios.

Prior to class, students complete pre-assigned readings and watch videos related to the class material. They perform a quiz through Moodle to test their understanding from the readings and videos.

During class, groups of students (2-3) are tasked with designing phylogenetic trees for three different scenarios_of increasing difficulty. Groups discuss and compare their trees for each scenario, which allows students to evaluate each other's work and to also self-correct their own trees. In groups, students answer questions based on the ...

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In this activity, students learn how to construct phylogenetic trees based on evolutionary traits using three different example scenarios.

Prior to class, students complete pre-assigned readings and watch videos related to the class material. They perform a quiz through Moodle to test their understanding from the readings and videos.

During class, groups of students (2-3) are tasked with designing phylogenetic trees for three different scenarios_of increasing difficulty. Groups discuss and compare their trees for each scenario, which allows students to evaluate each other's work and to also self-correct their own trees. In groups, students answer questions based on the phylogenetic trees they have constructed. These questions help them to think about the process of building trees based on data. Once complete, students individually answer clicker questions that are designed to test their understanding of the material, as well as encourage them to analyze new scenarios and apply the concepts they've learned.

Finally, students are given a set of practice questions to use for their own study purposes outside of class.

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Objectives

Students learn about biological diversity and the evolution of traits.

Students work both as a team and individually during this activity, enabling them to develop autonomous critical thinking skills, as well as collaborative skills.

 

Context and requirements

Level Grade 12-U0
Discipline Biology
Activity Content Phylogeny, evolution
Technological Requirements Clickers
Best Use Practice

Author’s Notes

Benefits

Students appreciate the activity because they practice with three different examples (with the first 2 complementing each other) to understand how evolutionary relatedness through phylogenetic traits is used in the construction of phylogenetic trees. Students enjoy building the trees as they learn about phylogeny while also having fun.

Some of the questions accompanying the activity are used to address misconceptions about evolution and the interpretation of phylogenetic trees.

Challenges

Students in general do not find this activity challenging. However, some students struggle with the interpretation of evolutionary relationships even after successfully completing the activity.

Students feel the need to practice further and often request more practice questions.

Keeping students on task and on time is always a challenge, as some students get overwhelmed with reading and following somewhat lengthy written instructions.

Tips

Keep students on task by using a visual timer (e.g., a computer clock on smart board), and by reminding them how much time they have left to complete the activity.

Activity Pedagogical Components

Preparation

Students read through and watch related videos of the class material OUTSIDE OF CLASS prior to the lesson. Students take a quiz (on Moodle) to test that they understand the material they have read and watched.

Application

In GROUPS of 2-3 IN CLASS, students apply what they know by_â___constructing three different phylogenetic trees.

Peer Review

GROUPS compare their phylogenetic trees, evaluating_â___their correctness and design.

Analysis and Understanding

Students INDIVIDUALLY answer clicker questions related to phylogeny and the phylogenetic trees they have constructed. These questions are designed to test their understanding, and also encourage students to apply what they have learned to new situations.

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