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Biol 3XXX low-stakes writing assignment

Write-to-learn prompts for Biol 3XXX

1. 5-minute paper: are the following statements correct? For each statement answer yes or no and explain why.
‚ÄúNatural selection is survival of the fittest.‚Ä?
‚ÄúNatural selection is survival of the luckiest.‚Ä?

At the end of the 5 minutes, discuss your answers in groups of 3 to 4 people for 5 minutes. I will then ask each group for their answers and explanations. The papers will not be collected.

2. 10-minute exercise. What results would you expect from today’s experiment? Sketch in your lab manual a graph of phenotype versus frequency for 1) before selection and 2) after selection and explain your predictions in a few sentences. The lab manual will not be collected, but these predictions will part of your next lab report. Recording your predictions now will be useful since you may not recall them clearly when you reach the stage to write up the entire lab. At the end of the 10 minutes I will ask some volunteers to share their predictions with the class.

Comments

I especially like the second assignment, and would try to use it as a "teachable moment" to discuss a priori versus post hoc predictions. It helps keep scientists honest if they record their a priori predictions in a lab journal. But the experiment might reveal something else, leading the investigators to cycle back and reformulate their hypothesis/prediction, but these post hoc reinterpretations with the data at hand should always be reported as such.

Kiyoko, I agree with Todd's comment on your second assignment. I really like the idea of using writing in a way that introduces students to how writing will be used in their chosen field. Not only does an assignment like this encourage students to write, it encourages them to think about the process of what they are doing. I also think it is valuable that they will see the benefit of writing for themselves (not just for the instructor).

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