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1 September 2013 Integrating Math & Computer Skills in the Biology Classroom: An Example using Spreadsheet Simulations to Teach Fundamental Sampling Concepts
Darrell L. Ray
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Abstract

Students often enter biology programs deficient in the math and computational skills that would enhance their attainment of a deeper understanding of the discipline. To address some of these concerns, I developed a series of spreadsheet simulation exercises that focus on some of the mathematical foundations of scientific inquiry and the benefits of mathematical modeling in understanding some of the fundamental concepts of ecology, including topics such as population growth, selection, competition, predation, and sustainability. In the example presented here, students collect data from a computer-generated study site and then use basic spreadsheet skills to calculate, graphically visualize, and compare sample meansSE) to effectively discover why random and transect sampling are superior to biased sampling, and to explore the effects of sample size on the standard error of the mean. Pre- and post-exercise questionnaires suggest that spreadsheet models such as this one are effective in improving students' attainment of the target principles. Spreadsheet simulations can be used as a low-cost, easily accessible way to leverage technology to supplement lecture or laboratory content while fostering vital math and computer skills.

©2013 by National Association of Biology Teachers. All rights reserved. Request permission to photocopy or reproduce article content at the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions Web site at www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp
Darrell L. Ray "Integrating Math & Computer Skills in the Biology Classroom: An Example using Spreadsheet Simulations to Teach Fundamental Sampling Concepts," The American Biology Teacher 75(7), 455-460, (1 September 2013). https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2013.75.7.3
Published: 1 September 2013
JOURNAL ARTICLE
6 PAGES

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KEYWORDS
computer activity
computer skills
graphing and data visualization.
Inquiry
Math skills
spreadsheet simulation
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