Animal Behavior

  1. The course topic is animal behavior, and the level is 300-level.  Most students are juniors and seniors majoring in biology, animal science, and animal ecology, with many pre-veterinary students.
  2. The BIOL 354L (Animal Behavior laboratory) class was one of the first courses to use in-class research as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Center for Integrating Research, Teaching, and Learning at ISU.  The highly popular animal behavior laboratory engages students in a real research experience.  Rather than having students conduct short, canned laboratory exercises, we spend the entire semester helping the students to develop a single capstone research project in animal behavior.  Students experience entire research process—from reading primary literature and researching a scientific question, to formulating hypotheses and predictions, to designing experiments, to collecting data and rearing invertebrate animals in the laboratory, to analyzing the data, to presenting a research poster to their peers. 

  3. We have provided materials and descriptions of this course to other instructors planning to do similar things with other animal behavior courses at other universities, as well as other biology courses.
  4. In a recently funded SoTL project (with grad student coPIs Amy Worthington and Alex Walton), we have begun a study of how and if the hands-on research experience affects students’ understanding of the nature of science and attitudes towards science.  This involved a “before and after” survey of students, and we are currently analyzing the data and preparing for a second year of surveys in the coming year.  We will test the idea that hands-on research experience leads students to have a more positive attitude towards science, and to gain a deeper appreciation for the nature of science, experimentation, and hypothesis-testing.