2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
Paper No. 20-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-9:15 AM


TAPANILA, Leif1, AMES, Daniel P.2, THOMASON, Carrie1, SAMMONS, Dotty3, AGAMBA, Jack3, and SHEFFIELD, Joseph1, (1) Department of Geosciences, Idaho State University, 921 S. 8th Ave, Pocatello, ID 83209-8072, tapaleif@isu.edu, (2) Department of Geosciences, Idaho State University, 995 University Ave, Idaho Falls, ID 83402, (3) College of Education, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209

FossilPlot 2.0 is a free, online software tool and supporting website designed to enhance active and quantitative learning of the fossil record at the undergraduate level. Founded on the Sepkoski Database, the program gives educators and their students the ability to compile any combination of 36,339 marine animal genera to create graphs illustrating faunal diversity and stratigraphic ranges for the entire Phanerozoic Eon. The supporting website provides user tutorials, glossary descriptions of taxa and geologic time, and sample exercises that are the subject of in-class assessments.

An assessment on the efficacy of FossilPlot used a pre- and post- multiple-choice testing method to evaluate a cohort of 19 undergraduate students. The exercise used for the pre- and post-test evaluations studied the comparative histories of bivalves and brachiopods through the Phanerozoic, and required students to read and interpret diversity, origination and extinction graphs presented to them in the test. Students were given the pre-test without any introduction to the FossilPlot website. Following the pre-test on the same day, the instructor conducted a lab on brachiopods, with a component that used FossilPlot to graph the diversity of brachiopod orders through time. Twenty-one days later, the post-test was administered. Overall, mean scores increased by 7% from pre- to post-test, showing a statistical improvement (p<0.003) in graph reading and interpretation. All but two students recorded post-test scores at, or higher, than their pre-test. These results suggest that the integration of FossilPlot in the college curriculum may improve student ability in reading and interpreting graphs, but further in-class assessments are warranted.

2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October 3 November 2010)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 20
Teaching Paleontology in the Twenty-First Century: Resources for Teaching Paleontology at the Undergraduate Level
Colorado Convention Center: Room 603
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 68

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