Teaching tree-thinking to undergraduates.

Rich Miesel has a nice paper soon to appear in Evolution: Education and Outreach which further explores ways to help students grasp tree-thinking in evolutionary biology. It’s the latest in a series of papers on this topic in E:EO and other journals and covers misconceptions that can’t be clarified too often.

Miesel, R.P. Teaching Tree-Thinking to Undergraduate Biology Students. Evolution: Education and Outreach, in press.

Other references:

Baum DA, Offner S. Phylogenies and tree-thinking. Am Biol Teach. 2008;70:222–9.

Baum DA, Smith SD, Donovan SS. Evolution: the tree-thinking challenge. Science. 2005;310:979–80.

Crisp MD, Cook LG. Do early branching lineages signify ancestral traits? Trends Ecol Evol. 2005;20:122–8.

Goldsmith DW. The great clade race: presenting cladistic thinking to biology majors & general science students. Am Biol Teach. 2003;65:679–82.

Gregory TR. Understanding evolutionary trees. Evo Edu Outreach. 2008;1:121–37.

Gregory TR. Understanding natural selection: essential concepts and common misconceptions. Evo Edu Outreach. 2009;2:156–75.

Halverson KL. Using pipe cleaners to bring the tree of life to life. Am Biol Teach. 2010;72:223–4.

Meir E, Perry J, Herron JC, Kingsolver J. College students’ misconceptions about evolutionary trees. Am Biol Teach. 2007;69:e71–6.

Novick L, Catley K, Funk D. Characters are key: the effect of synapomorphies on cladogram comprehension. Evo Edu Outreach, in press

O’Hara RJ. Population thinking and tree thinking in systematics. Zool Scr. 1997;26:323–9.

Omland KE, Cook LG, Crisp MD. Tree thinking for all biology: the problem with reading phylogenies as ladders of progress. BioEssays. 2008;30:854–67.

Perry J, Meir E, Herron JC, Maruca S, Stal D. Evaluating two approaches to helping college students understand evolutionary trees through diagramming tasks. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2008;7:193–201.

Sandvik H. Tree thinking cannot be taken for granted: challenges for teaching phylogenetics. Theory Biosci. 2008;127:45–51.

Smith JJ, Cheruvelil KS. Using inquiry and tree-thinking to “march through the animal phyla”: teaching introductory comparative biology in an evolutionary context. Evo Edu Outreach. 2009;2:429–44.


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