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Peer Review

Connecting Concepts: Natural Selection 3: Microevolution: Evolution in a Population

by Robert Jeanne , Jan Cheetham


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.9 stars
Ease of Use: 4.9 stars
Reviewed: Sep 16, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board

Evolution/Microevolution: Evolution in a Population is one of a series of interactive web-based lessons designed to give introductory undergraduate biology students opportunities to connect biology concepts. Evolution and natural selection are difficult concepts to grasp and there are many popular misconceptions that need to be clarified; this site can be used as a supplement to the lecture to allow students to review the topic at their own pace and as many times as desired. This lesson topic covers the concepts needed to understand how natural selection leads to changes in a population--evolution. A very good help screen is provided to help students use the lessons. The larger site containing the entire series will be very useful at the introductory level

Type of Material:


Recommended Uses:

This site could be used in many ways. 1. As the basis of a classroom lecture presentation. 2. As an out-of-class assignment before the topic is covered in class. 3. As a study tool for students after topic is presented in class.

Technical Requirements:

Use of a current web browser will be required. Macromedia Flash Player 6 plug-in is required.

Identify Major Learning Goals:

The major goal of this lesson is to help students understand how natural selection works to contribute to evolutionary change. This lesson topic covers the concepts needed to understand how natural selection leads to changes in a population--evolution.

Target Student Population:

High school (AP level) through college.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

Students will need to have a basic understanding of classical genetics.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: <

  • A good history of the theory of natural selection.
  • Nice examples illustrating natural selection based on phenotype, and the underlying affect on genotypes in a population.
  • Good images.
  • Site is highly interactive with numerous answers to be filled in by student self grading.
  • Questions asked throughout lessons help student get feedback on understanding of concepts/process.
  • Animations clearly connect the different parts of each process into a coherent whole.

  • None

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.9 stars

  • Interactive questions and fun games should hold student interest while still challenging them.
  • Questions are at an appropriate level for most undergraduates.
  • Could design assignments using this tutorial.
  • Important topic for all introductory biology courses.
  • Concepts taught in a story mode--easier to comprehend and retain.
  • Clearly demonstrates relationships between elements of each concept.
  • The site can be used in several ways--as a direct teaching tool in a distance learning course, as a lecture outline, as a review and study tool for students after topic covered in class.
  • Some of the questions asked will be challenging for introductory students.
  • Completion of plans for links to assessments and image/animation data bases will greatly enhance the usefulness of the site.

  • None

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.9 stars

  • Well organized, clear and concise.
  • No broken links.
  • Instructions clear, especially when manipulating components and entering animations.
  • Instructors manual available; summarizes the contents of each of the lesson topics.
  • Glossary available for selected terms.

  • None

Other Issues and Comments:

This series of lessons has outstanding potential for use by faculty and students everywhere. The concepts are broken down to simple parts and then reassembled by an interactive process and animations into a whole. This lesson clearly illustrate how natural selection leads to changes in a population--evolution.