Creating Open Educational Resources for Macroevolution
Our aim was to develop open and online materials as a mechanism to facilitate student learning and engagement in a course that teaches macroevolutionary methods in a hands-on workshop environment. We sought to create materials that thoroughly described the methodology used in analyses and documented the necessary steps needed to run various software packages. We created tutorials to prepare students for in-class activities, with exercises that will build on methods learned in the classroom. Each module was coupled with a publicly available instructor guide describing the materials contained within it and how to update/maintain them.
Transformative Impacts on Students and Instructors
Students enter the course with various amounts of coding experience, with some having little to no knowledge of programming. These introductory materials help flatten the steep learning curve that comes with using statistical software, not only improving the accessibility of the course, but also easing the transition to the software-focused workshop format of the latter portion of the course.
Tutorials gave students a clear reference and description of the computational methods, allowing them to review the materials as needed and work at their own pace. Additionally, for each module, we also created inquiry-based questions that would have students perform analyses on datasets and interpret their results. These questions could help students assess their learning and ensure that they have competency in performing analyses.
Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive, for example, one student wrote:
“The interactive learning that included discussion and practicals were helpful when it came to understanding the content. This helped enhance the lecture portion of the course.”
Public course webpage: EEOB Macroevolution