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SA 3124 - Animal Behavior (Shenko)

Recommended resources for Dr. Shenko's course.

Group research project

As scientists, you will be asked to answer questions about the workings of the natural world. Now is a good time to start figuring out how to do that.

You will be required to design and complete an independent investigation of animal behavior as a major component of this class.

Together with your group, you need to research an  area of animal behavior that interests you, decide on a way to investigate that topic, carry out that investigation, and then analyze the results. 

Your group may choose any topic, but the investigation must be observational only. You may not  experiment on any living creature, only observe its behaviors!  (Doing otherwise involves way more paperwork than you want to do.) The organisms in question have to be easily observable and readily available, they will not be provided for you.

Project paper

You will be responsible for writing a formal paper of your research and creating a presentation for your peers. The paper should be at least 6 pages in length and contain at least 4 peer-reviewed articles. It must be double-spaced, 12 pt font of Times New Roman and have 1” margins.

The paper should consist of an Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results & Analysis, Discussion, Conclusion, and Literature Cited sections.

The Abstract section should be a concise statement of the questions being investigated, brief summary of known information, and a short account of your investigation with results.

Within the Introduction, you are expected to consult scientific journals for peer-reviewed research into your topic. Testable hypotheses should also be included in the introduction.

The Methods section should outline the steps you took to carry out your investigation (past tense – not a list of directions for someone else). It should also include the types of data analysis you plan to carry out.

The Results & Analysis section should include raw data collected, any tables created for analysis, and any pertinent graphs.

The Discussion section should discuss the results of your data analysis, revisit testable hypotheses, and relate that analysis to overall ideas in animal behavior. It should include ecological and evolutionary causes, and possible consequences.

The Conclusion should be a brief overview of background information and the major ideas put forth by your research.

The Literature Cited section must include all sources used, in proper Chicago-style format (consult the Libguide). 

Project presentation

During the last lab, you will give a 25-30 min presentation of your research to the class, plus an additional 10 min for questions. This is your chance to showcase why your topic is interesting and what you have done for the semester. PowerPoint is required. You should cover the same sections as your project paper, but in presentation format. You will be graded by a presentation critique rubric provided by the instructor. Your participation in the critiquing process is also part of the overall exercise. 

Peer evaluation

At the initial stages of your group project, you will be required to create and sign a peer contract for this project. You will use this contract when assessing your group members and they will use it in assessing you. Each individual will (anonymously) rate all other members of their group, assigning the portion of 25 points they feel are deserved. Individual peer evaluation scores will be the average of the points received from other members of the group.