Student Interpretations of Phylogenetic Trees in an Introductory Biology Course

dc.contributor.author Dees, Jonathan
dc.contributor.author Momsen, Jennifer
dc.contributor.author Niemi, Jarad
dc.contributor.author Niemi, Jarad
dc.contributor.author Montplaisir, Lisa
dc.contributor.department Statistics
dc.date 2018-02-17T04:48:31.000
dc.date.accessioned 2020-07-02T06:57:00Z
dc.date.available 2020-07-02T06:57:00Z
dc.date.copyright Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2014
dc.date.issued 2014-01-01
dc.description.abstract <p>Phylogenetic trees are widely used visual representations in the biological sciences and the most important visual representations in evolutionary biology. Therefore, phylogenetic trees have also become an important component of biology education. We sought to characterize reasoning used by introductory biology students in interpreting taxa relatedness on phylogenetic trees, to measure the prevalence of correct taxa-relatedness interpretations, and to determine how student reasoning and correctness change in response to instruction and over time. Counting synapomorphies and nodes between taxa were the most common forms of incorrect reasoning, which presents a pedagogical dilemma concerning labeled synapomorphies on phylogenetic trees. Students also independently generated an alternative form of correct reasoning using monophyletic groups, the use of which decreased in popularity over time. Approximately half of all students were able to correctly interpret taxa relatedness on phylogenetic trees, and many memorized correct reasoning without understanding its application. Broad initial instruction that allowed students to generate inferences on their own contributed very little to phylogenetic tree understanding, while targeted instruction on evolutionary relationships improved understanding to some extent. Phylogenetic trees, which can directly affect student understanding of evolution, appear to offer introductory biology instructors a formidable pedagogical challenge.</p>
dc.description.comments <p>This article is from <em>CBE-Life Sciences Education</em> 13 (2014): 666, doi: <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.14-01-0003" target="_blank">10.1187/cbe.14-01-0003 </a></p>
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.identifier archive/lib.dr.iastate.edu/stat_las_pubs/18/
dc.identifier.articleid 1016
dc.identifier.contextkey 7796263
dc.identifier.s3bucket isulib-bepress-aws-west
dc.identifier.submissionpath stat_las_pubs/18
dc.identifier.uri https://dr.lib.iastate.edu/handle/20.500.12876/90487
dc.language.iso en
dc.source.bitstream archive/lib.dr.iastate.edu/stat_las_pubs/18/2014_NiemiJ_StudentInterpretationsPhylogenetic.pdf|||Fri Jan 14 21:33:53 UTC 2022
dc.source.uri 10.1187/cbe.14-01-0003
dc.subject.disciplines Biology
dc.subject.disciplines Biostatistics
dc.subject.disciplines Statistics and Probability
dc.title Student Interpretations of Phylogenetic Trees in an Introductory Biology Course
dc.type article
dc.type.genre article
dspace.entity.type Publication
relation.isAuthorOfPublication 31b412ec-d498-4926-901e-2cb5c2b5a31d
relation.isOrgUnitOfPublication 264904d9-9e66-4169-8e11-034e537ddbca
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