GEOLOGY 205: EVOLUTION & EARTH SYSTEMS
R. Hays Cummins | Western Program | Miami University
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Course Requirements and Expectations
EVOLUTION & EARTH SYSTEMS
Professor: Dr. Hays Cummins
A few fossil hounds on a recent collecting trip!
In this course we will examine a variety of topics including evolution,
extinction and tropical ecology. From the outset, you will notice
that much of the responsibility for the success of the course
is on your shoulders. This includes student-led discussions and
a semester long research project. Exams will be take-home and
How did life first evolve?
In addition to a course reader, three texts form the basis of
student-led discussions: 1) The Song of the DoDo by David Quammen; (2) A Neotropical Companion by John Kricher and (3) Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck by D. Raup. These are provocative writings which should ignite our
imaginations and fuel our discussions.
Students collecting fossils at a local Favorite Outcrop
Evolution & Earth Systems Research Projects
Earth Systems Assignments and Discussion Site!
Avoid Cheesy Science!
A major portion of the course will be devoted to group research
projects. You will be responsible for generating specific hypotheses
and bringing the project to completion. Half the research projects
will be on biogeography while the other half will be on paleocommunities. We will celebrate your projects in a Evolution and Earth Systems
Symposium at the end of the semester.
To better build a community of researchers, there will be an extensive
web based feedback system that will involve the entire class.
Everyone will have a stake in the success of everyone else's projects
primarily by providing feedback and criticisms to one another.
Details are illustrated below.
Evolution & Earth Systems Research Feedback & Database
Evolution & Earth Systems Project Entry Forms.......
Evolution & Earth Systems Project Submissions...
Evolution & Earth Systems Progress Reports
The Great Fossil Hunt,
November13, 1999 (Quicktime Movies)
Final Report Format
Each "Final Report" should be a minimum of 5 pages long, plus references, research timeline, and data sheets. Your lab packet
submission should be complete the first time you submit it, but
be prepared for feedback from your peers, tutors and faculty which
will result in further revision. Your final report should, of
course, be much more complete than your "Lab Teaching Packet."
Title (with all authors)
- Purpose/Problem. What is (are) your hypothesis(es)?
- How did you decide on this project? How did you decide upon your
- What do you plan to accomplish?
- Relevance, if any. Why is this research interesting?
2. Relevance of your research question
- Literature Review--What have others done?
- How does your research relate to a larger question(s)? What contribution
will your project hopefully be able to make to the broader base
of human knowledge?
3. Materials and Methods
- What is your experimental design? Is it statistically sound? What
are the reasons behind the different parts of your experimental
design? Why are or aren't you doing certain things?
- Is your experimental design statistically sound? How do you know?
Did you ask for advice?
- How will you ensure unbiased results?
- How will you ensure that the data collected by the class can be
trusted? Will you show adequately demonstrate your data collection
methods and the importance of consistency?
- Describe important materials and how they will be used.
- Describe other methods. How will you involve the class in your
study? Be specific! Will the class be asked to process data? How?
- Have you included a Data Sheet?
- Include a specific timeline (your own and the class!) of research execution.
4. Results (To be included in your final report)
- Observations. Do you have preliminary results from work done to
date? Include these initial results in this report.
- Think about how best to convey your findings. What types of statistics
will be of use to you? Why?
- How will you best display your results? Graphs, tables? Think
long and hard about this!
- Include statistical tests, tables (numerical data) and figures
(graphs, drawings, etc.) when appropriate.
5. Discussion & Conclusions (For your final report!)
- Based on your background research, your own project, and analysis
of the data, explain why you got the results you did.
- Think beyond the project. How does your work fit in with what others have done? What additional questions do you have?
- What suggestions do you have for further investigation?
6. Literature Cited
- Be sure to include an impressive suite of literature citations
that directly relate to your study. This literature must include
citations from the peer reviewed journals. World Wide Web citations
are of secondary importance!
Here's a little boost in your search for a suitable research topic!!
Books, Articles, Journals, Library Resources
The world's largest bookstore!
The Library of Congress
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