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Backyard Evolutionary Biology: Investigating Local Flowers Brings Learning to Life
  • Abha Ahuja
Abha Ahuja
Keck Graduate Institute

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


As college courses transition to online instruction in response to COVID-19 incorporating inquiry-based learning is all the more essential for student engagement. However, implementation can prove challenging for instructors. I describe a strategy for inquiry-based learning that is straightforward to apply in a variety of course modalities, including asynchronous and synchronous online courses. I describe an assignment where students explore the developmental basis of morphological evolution. Flowers offer an excellent example to address this concept and are easy for students to access and describe. Students were asked to conduct research on local flowering plants by collecting and dissecting flower specimens to determine their whorl patterns and then generate hypotheses to explain the developmental genetic basis of the patterns identified. This task allowed students to apply their scientific thinking skills, explore nature, and connect their understanding of the developmental basis of evolutionary change to everyday life. I designed this assignment to be completed asynchronously, and it can be easily modified for synchronous online and traditional face-to-face meetings. Incorporating inquiry using readily available, tangible, tractable real-world examples is a pragmatic and effective approach during and beyond COVID-19.
20 Jun 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
22 Jun 2020Submission Checks Completed
22 Jun 2020Assigned to Editor
25 Jun 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
20 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
30 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
18 Sep 20201st Revision Received
19 Sep 2020Assigned to Editor
19 Sep 2020Submission Checks Completed
19 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
09 Nov 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
22 Dec 20202nd Revision Received
23 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
23 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
23 Dec 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Dec 2020Editorial Decision: Accept