We used personal mobile electronic devices (PMEDs) to engage students in a lesson to support evolutionary thinking in an undergraduate biology course. Community-college students enrolled in Biodiversity & Evolution, a core majors biology course, met for an optional field trip at the University of Idaho's McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in central Idaho during the summer of 2014. Ten students participated in the classroom and outdoor activities. Students were provided with directions and objectives for the lesson, and students' own PMEDs were used to capture images of the community of organisms in and around the outdoor campus. After returning from the field, students analyzed their digital data in the context of morphological similarities and differences to construct a phylogenetic hypothesis for the relationships of the organisms observed. Students' comments were solicited regarding the activity, and feedback was generally positive. From the teachers' perspective, students appeared highly engaged and the novel method was a success. We discuss the theoretical basis for using PMEDs and provide a detailed lesson plan.
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Vol. 77 • No. 8