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Peer Review




Overall Numeric Rating:

4.33 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 12, 2001 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The Stream Study provides a method to determine the water quality of a stream based on the collection and identification of benthic macroinvertebrates.. The site provides key, background information, methods for collecting invertebrates, sample data, and descriptions of the water quality indicated by the presence of specific invertebrates. Illustrations are good quality black and white drawings. Using the materials, a student can calculate a simple water quality index. Designed for use by environmentally-oriented volunteers, the materials could be used by elementary students on up.
Type of Material: Reference
Technical Requirements: HTML
Target Student Population: Introductory College Biology or Zoology

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars

Quality of Content: (4.5)(3) = 3.75

  • Good quality, basic line drawings of invertebrates

  • Well laid out

  • Good introduction for introductory level students or below


  • Key is illustrated, but only includes one illustration for each description
    which could mislead naïve users

  • Keys are to broad categories or indicator species, many species not included

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool: (4)(3) = 3.5

  • Can be effective in teaching basics of classification, species identification,
    water quality analysis

  • Could be used to develop field or indoor exercises

  • Good quality images

  • low cost - allows sampling with a minimal investment in equipment


  • Limited information/background material

  • Simple, non-technical keys may not be appropriate for more advanced classes
    even at introductory level.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars

Usability: (5)(4) = 4.5

  • Easy to navigate

  • Easy to use


  • Dichotomous key provides very limited interaction

Features of Excellence:

  • Simple and straightforward

  • Easy to use

  • Easy to write assignments to use it in lab or field

  • Materials can be used on-line or printed


  • Could use additional illustrations for each couplet

  • Would benefit from more background materials and more links to related sites

  • The addition of photos for use in the identification key would be nice

  • May be considered too elementary for some college classes.

Overall rating: (4.0) (3.8) = 3.9