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Peer Review

Web PopGen

by Bob Sheehy


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 24, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The site consists of a pair of spreadsheets and a series of inputs into the Hardy-Weinberg Equation. Activation of site results in a model of what would happen to the p and q alleles over 200 generations for up to five (5) different populations. It is an excellent simulation of population genetics that allows students to explore the impact of the following variables on allele frequency: Stochastic/Infinite populations, Population Size, Number of Populations, Selection/Fitness, Mutation, Migration, and Bottle Neck Effect.
Learning Goals: There aren't and goals specifically stated. However, if listed, goals would include allowing students to manipulate multiple variables in the Hardy-Weinberg equation and let the model demonstrate possible results. Aspects of population changes covered in this model include Display, Stochastic/Infinite populations, Population Size, Number of Populations, Selection/Fitness, Mutation, Migration, Bottle Neck Effect.
Target Student Population: The target student population includes genetics students at any level.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Pre-requisites include a basic understanding of what the Hardy-Weinberg equations are and what they are supposed to measure. Knowledge of the concept of allele frequency will help students better understand what they are doing.
Type of Material: The material at this site is presented as a model and can be categorized as a simulation of that model.
Recommended Uses: Recommended uses include classroom demonstration, in-class laboratory exercisse, or outside of class exercise.
Technical Requirements: Technical requirements include a web browser with Flash installed.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Model follows Hardy-Weinberg equation
  • Author explains each of the possible variations and gives the equations used for calculations
  • Excellent graphics
  • Multiple variables can be entered at the same time or one variable can be isolated
  • Displays 5 populations simultaneously, allowing students to appreciate variation in actual populations
  • No discussion of accuracy of this particular simulation versus other simulations of the same sets of variables
  • Needs discussion of the assumptions being made for the Hardy-Weinberg equations to be valid

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Very interactive; allows students to ask questions, change variables, and explore results
  • An excellent tool with which students can investigate the Hardy-Weinberg populations
  • Multiple runs of the simulation can show different outcomes using the same variables
  • Variables may be changed one at a time to see individual effects
  • Gives student experience using a scientific model
  • Very realistic representation of the data; could easily write assignments to accompany the site
  • Does not have a means to write outcome data to an output file to save or for future use
  • No activities or assignments are provided

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
  • A help section is provided
  • Program runs quickly with no downloads
  • Input of data is simple and and location for each variable easily identified
  • If more than one population run at same time they are displayed in different colors on the graph
  • Gives students visual feedback on what happens to allele frequencies when different variables are changed
  • Requires student understanding of how Hardy-Weinberg equations work which is not provided on site
  • No easy way to collect data for future use
  • Some suggested variable sot change would help students get started