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Table 1 Schedule of lab topics and inquiry-based learning activities

From: Correcting misconceptions about evolution: an innovative, inquiry-based introductory biological anthropology laboratory course improves understanding of evolution compared to instructor-centered courses

Lab Lab topic Example of inquiry-based challenge activity
(all performed by students in groups)
1 Evolution and scientific thinking Sex identification of two complete skeletons (male and female). Students are challenged to hypothesize how sexes differ skeletally, determine how they would collect relevant data, do so, then report results and interpret. Provides opportunity to reinforce scientific method and way of knowing.
2 Genes and variation Challenges include problem solving related to Mendelian and population genetics. Students do paternity determination using Punnett Squares and prediction of class allele and genotype frequencies for simple Mendelian trait using Hardy–Weinberg.
3 Tree-building and primate classification (taught over two weeks) Week 1: Students are challenged to examine three primate skulls and hypothesize how they are related. They learn to build trees, draw a tree to represent their anatomically-based hypothesis, then are instructed in locating and counting pairwise differences in gene sequences. They receive a gene sequence for three primate species to count pairwise differences as homework.
Week 2: Students use their base pair counts from the homework to test their anatomically-based phylogenetic hypotheses, compare their anatomy- and gene-derived trees, and discuss the differences.
4 Primate anatomy and locomotion Challenge is to determine the locomotor pattern of a mystery primate whose limb bones are provided. Students develop hypotheses, list methods, collect data, then work through guided steps about constructing limb ratios and using those to predict locomotor pattern. These secondary hypotheses are evaluated in relation to body mass.
5 Human osteology and forensics Challenge is to determine sex of unidentified skeletal remains using qualitative and quantitative methods. Students work through hypothesis, methods, data collection, and discussion.
6 Hominin identification 1: bipedalism Challenge is to determine the locomotor pattern of a mystery fossil (hominin) species using comparison with known quadruped and biped. Students work through hypothesis, methods, data collection, and discussion using comparative skulls, pelvises, femurs, and feet.
7 Hominin identification 2: skulls, teeth, diet Challenge is to determine likely diets of hominids based on a comparative study of skulls and teeth of four species. Students work through hypothesis, methods, data collection, and discussion, including learning about the relationship of cheek teeth size with body mass and diet.
8 DNA fingerprinting Students learn to perform DNA fingerprinting in the context of a scenario that challenges them to predict and then test the hominin group affiliation of a fossil finger bone discovered in a Siberian cave.
9 Population history and ancestry Students learn to use a bioinformatics database to examine relationships among living human populations based on mitochondrial DNA. They are then challenged to generate their own research question and hypothesis about population relationships, collect the data, and organize and present their explorations to the class orally with slides.
10 Human genetic adaptation: ELISA Students learn to perform ELISA technique in the context of a scenario that challenges them to determine the likely allele frequency distribution at the CCR5 locus of a population of European ancestry exposed to HIV.
11 Human variation: anthropometry Students learn basic anthropometric techniques and then employ them to predict and test the relationship between brain and body sizes and brain size and sex. They have to decide which of the measures/indices they have learned would be best suited to evaluate their hypotheses, then follow through with organizing and discussing their results.