Teaching Assistant Discussion Evaluation  - Genetic Drift

Did the students enjoy this discussion / project

1) No and yes. They didn't enjoy reading Haldane (with a few exceptions). However, the "sampling error" bean-bag genetics experiments were liked. It helped them understand the source of sampling error in genetic drift.

2) I think they got a kick out of the bean exercise.

What did the students learn from this discussion project?

1) In the Haldane article we discussed the reasons for models in biology and why simplifying assumptions  were necessary to create models sufficiently simple to give biologists "intuitive" answers to complex ideas. We also discussed the political environment at the time Haldane wrote the article.

2) I think drawing beans from a bag may seem a little silly to some of us, but I think it helped most of the students.

What did you like best about this week's discussion?

1) The articles allowed us to discuss the assumptions behind the synthesis equations. I felt it was very worthwhile.

2) The beans were kind of fun.

What didn't you like?

1) The majority of the students didn't put enough effort into trying to understand why Haldane wrote the article.

2). The students did not like reading Haldane. They didn't like the style; they thought the points he made were redundant.

In what ways can this exercise be improved?

1) Maybe Mayr's article would be better to read. The genetic drift exercise was introduced in recitation before it was mentioned in lecture. I'm not sure if the students got as much out of it as they could have if drift had been introduced earlier in lecture. I think the students enjoyed exploring the drift experiments on their own.

2) I think that if they are going to read Haldane they need to be given some information re the context. Also perhaps tell them what we hope they get out of it before they read it.