Inquiry Activities

Guppy Simulation - This inquiry is designed to help students understand the concepts of natural selection, sexual selection, and fitness. Included in the activity is a simulation based on John Endler's work with guppy populations in Trinidad.

Frog Deformities - This inquiry is designed to help students practice experimental design and interpretation of data, as well as to introduce the complexity of interactions in global change. The activity is based on research into the causes of frog deformities.

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE)- This online publication contains teaching methods, issues and experiments that may be used to integrate ecology into the classroom. Issues and experiments are submitted and peer reviewed by ecologists. Teaching methods are primarily from an undergraduate perspective and include active learning and inquiry-based experiments.


Problem-Based Learning

The Problem-Based learning site at the University of Delaware

PROBLARC - the Problem-Based Learning Assessment and Research Centre at The University of Newcastle, Australia

Sigma Xi - A list of additional PBL sites


Case Studies

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science - At the University at Buffalo, they have been experimenting with case studies in science courses for over 15 years, with initial support provided by a FIPSE grant from the Department of Education . They have found the method to be amazingly flexible. It has been used as the core of entire courses such as "Scientific Inquiry" or for single experiences in otherwise traditional lecture and lab courses. Cases dealing with cold fusion, AIDS, acid rain, ozone depletion, and toxic waste disposal have been used with undergraduates, graduates, and students in professional schools.  A case on cystic fibrosis has been used in small laboratory sections run by teaching assistants and a case on the spotted owl has been employed in a large class of over 400 students.  In their experience, students exposed to the case method have been extraordinarily excited and actively involved in their learning. A National Science Foundation Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement program grant ( NSF #9752799 ) allowed us to extend their annual summer workshop to a national audience and expand development of this site to include this refereed national clearinghouse for case studies in science. 

The Clearinghouse for Decision Case Education at the University of Minnesota - This Web service was developed to help educators, students and other interested individuals learn more about decision case education. Here you will be able to share ideas on this new and exciting field of study, order case study materials, as well as locate teaching aids and other relevant resources from around the world.


Jon C. Herron Evolution Simulation Software

Phylostrat - evolution simulation; students "evolve" seven species of lizards based on the competing hypotheses of independent design and evolution, then compare the results; in "challenge" mode, students reconstruct an evolutionary phylogeny based on the morphological features of seven given lizard species

FrogPond - experimental design; students design simulation experiments to test hypotheses about the cause of frog deformities; students can collect data and analyze the results

EvoDots - simulation of natural selection using colored dots which can vary by size, speed, or visibility; students act as predators and monitor changes in phenotype frequencies over generations; includes "mutation" mode

PopCycle - population genetics simulation; students monitor changes in allele frequencies in a population; conditions can be set to include differential survival of different genotypes

AlleleA1 - population genetics simulation; simulates evolution at a single locus in an ideal population of imaginary organisms. The locus of interest has 2 alleles: A1 and A2. The user enters values for parameters controlling selection, mutation, migration, genetic drift, and inbreeding. As the simulation runs, the software plots a graph showing the frequency of allele A1 over time.

Bugsville - simulates the genetics of a quantitative character. The user can breed ladybugs to estimate the heritability of spot number, then conduct a selective breeding experiment to see if the heritability multiplied by the selection differential predicts the response to selection.

ForensicEA - ForensicEA lets the user explore the logic of phylogeny reconstruction. The program creates populations of virus particles. The populations evolve by genetic drift. The user can sample and complare nucleotide sequences from the populations. Various simulations let the user collect and analyze data on: genetic drift within a single population; divergence of populations by drift; and variation among populations on a known phylogeny.


Online Video

DNA from the Beginning - An animated primer on the basics of DNA, genes and heredity. DNA from the Beginning is organized around key concepts. The science behind each concept is explained by: animation, image gallery, video interviews, problem, biographies, and links.

General Resources

American Association for the Advancement of Science BiosciEdNet (BEN) - The BEN Collaborative, spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and composed of professional societies and coalitions for biology education, is developing a revolutionary approach for transforming biology teaching and learning in undergraduate and graduate institutions, as well as in professional schools.

Through the development of a BEN portal site, the BEN Collaborative provides searchable and seamless access to the digital library collections of its Partners to provide users with accurate and reliable biology education resources.

Resources accessible through the site will impact the learning of the biological sciences by students with diverse interests and career aspirations. The materials are collected and maintained by respected professional societies representing a broad spectrum of biological sciences.

American Association of Higher Education - The American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) is a national, individual membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of American higher education. The website contains descriptions of the society's programs and initiatives and essays on higher education issues, but no classroom resources.

Association of College and University Biology Educators - The Association of College & University Biology Educators (ACUBE) was first established in 1957 as the Association of Midwest College Biology Teachers (AMCBT). In 1997 they changed their name to ACUBE to reflect their growing national membership.The objectives of ACUBE are: 1) to further the teaching of the biological sciences at the college and other levels of educational experience; 2) to bring to light common problems involving biological curricula at the college level and by the free interchange of ideas; endeavor to resolve these problems; 3) to encourage active participation in biological research by teachers and students in the belief that such participation is an invaluable adjunct to effective teaching; 4) to create a voice which will be effective in bringing the collective views of the teachers of the biological sciences to the attention of college and civil government administrations. The website contains links to many other sites with resources for use in teaching.

Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences - The Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences is a national coalition of professional societies in the biological sciences that have joined together in an effort to improve undergraduate education in the life sciences. Their home page has a large number of links to other resources.

The College-Level One Team at the National Institute for Science Education (NISE) - The NISE College Level One Team (based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a nationwide community of post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty, education researchers, faculty developers, and students. Their mission is three fold:

  1. To improve students' learning experiences and critical thinking skills by fostering innovation in introductory STEM education at the college level.
  2. To engage and retain a growing and diverse student population in the study of science, mathematics, and engineering by eliminating cultural and gender barriers.
  3. To increase college students' STEM literacy and effectively prepare students majoring in STEM disciplines for their future careers.

Their site has information on collaborative learning, learning through technology and a field-tested learning assessment guide (FLAG).

Digital Library for Earth System Education - The mission of the Digital Library for Earth System Education is to improve the quality, quantity, and efficiency of teaching and learning about the Earth system by developing, managing, and providing access to high quality educational resources and supporting services through a community-based, distributed digital library. DLESE's educational resources include lesson plans, scientific data, visualizations, interactive computer models, and virtual field trips.

Ecological Society of America Education Section - The primary goals of the Ecological Society of America's (ESA) Education Office are to increase diversity within ecology-related professions, to engage the public in a dialogue on ecological research and issues, and to improve the quality of ecology education at all levels.

Ecological Society of America Ecology Course Syllabus Exchange - This is a resource for teachers seeking a variety of materials and activities to assist them in providing students with a greater understanding of ecology.

Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) - ERIC is the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), a national information system funded by the U.S. Department of Education that provides, through its 16 subject-specific clearinghouses, associated adjunct clearinghouses, and support components , a variety of services and products on a broad range of education-related issues. The ERIC database is the world's largest source of education information, with more than 1 million abstracts of documents and journal articles on education research and practice.

Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) - MERLOT is a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education. Links to online learning materials are collected here along with annotations such as peer reviews and assignments.

Project Kaleidescope (PKAL) PKAL is an informal national alliance of individuals, institutions,and organizations committed to strengthening undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education.

Sigma Xi Undergraduate Education Resources - This site offers links to sites addressing undergraduate education reform, inquiry based learning, and other related topics.

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) - This publication contains teaching methods, issues and experiments that may be used to integrate ecology into the classroom. Issues and experiments are submitted and peer reviewed by ecologists. Teaching methods are primarily from an undergraduate perspective and include active learning and inquiry-based experiments.

Workshop Biology - Workshop Biology is a curriculum developed at the University of Oregon to improve scientific literacy among non-science majors, and provides a case study in the design and evaluation of new approaches to college-level science education.