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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Classification of Living Things

by Dennis O'Neil
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3.6 stars
Content Quality: 3.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.3 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jan 17, 2003 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview:

A site giving a basic introduction to the classification of some of life. It
is focused heavily on chordates and even more specifically mammals (this is the
site of an anthropologist). It consists of a series of five short tutorials
that progressively lead the user through a basic introduction and then a more
detailed description of classification from kingdoms through infraclasses. The
site contains links to other sites on evolution and four general questions
designed as entry points to web-based research by students. There is also a
glossary that contains not only the definition, but a digital recording of the
pronunciation. It is rich with diagrams and photos.

Learning Goals:

Quoted from the site:

"In this tutorial you will be learning about the Linnaean system of
classification used in the biological sciences to describe and categorize all
living things. The focus is on finding out how humans fit within this system.
In addition, you will discover part of the great diversity of life forms and
come to understand why some animals are considered to be close to us in their
evolutionary history."

Target Student Population:

Introductory biology/anthropology students. Could be used by high school
students also.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

None

Type of Material:

Tutorial, interactive drill and practice.

Technical Requirements:

A basic web browser and the ability to play .mp3 files (realplayer or
windows media suggested, but many others will work).


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths:

Quality of Content: (4.0) (3.0) = 3.5



  • Gives a rich overview of animal life is a relatively small amount of space.
  • Clearly laid out and organized; easy to navigate.
  • Accurate with appropriate vocabulary.
  • Good general coverage of material.
  • Simple illustrations appropriate for basic understanding.
  • Integrates concepts through interactive quizzes.
  • Many important points are illustrated.
Concerns:

  • There are several over-simplifications and errors.
  • Site is titled "Classification Of Living Things" but does not include classification down to species level. The species concept is important to understanding classification.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.3 stars
Strengths:

Potential Effectiveness: (3.5) (3.0) = 3.25



  • The tutorial is written at the appropriate level for the audience.
  • The quizzes provide students and opportunity to test their knowledge and get immediate feedback.
  • An on-line textbook, accompanied with .wav files helps students with proper pronunciation.
  • Links to more advanced sites provide multi-level learning.
  • Suggested questions for web exploration exercises.
  • Good for students having trouble verbalizing terms.
Concerns:

  • Inclusion of animations or links to animations would make the site more exciting and engaging to students.
  • Learning objectives not available.
  • Minimal problem solving required.
  • Written for anthropologists; zoologists might find it too heavily weighted
    towards mammals.
  • Instructors will need to carefully examine the site to give students warning about information that is wrong or over which they might disagree.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths:

Ease of Use: (4.0 (4.0) = 4.0



  • The navigation is clear, but occasionally the pages require a lot of
    scrolling.
  • The use of diagrams and photographs to illustrate points in the tutorials are very effective
  • The use of sound for pronunciation is helpful.
Concerns:

  • The additional recommendation of QuickTime for a media player would be nice as it uses the plugin to play the media right in the browser.
  • Adding navigation links to the top would help especially on the longer web
    pages.
  • Links to additional related web sites might be more useful if inserted in body of site instead of a list at the end.
  • Site is text heavy; more interactivity besides quizzes would be useful.

Other Issues and Comments:

Overall Rating: (3.83) (3.33) = 3.58


The author needs to revise his use of the use of amniote. He should make it
clear that that mammals, reptiles (including birds) are amniotes and are so
because they all possess the amniotic membrane (either in the egg or in the
uterus).