Harnessing open science practices to teach ecology and evolution using interactive tutorials

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Jory Griffith, Elizabeth Houghton, Margaret A. Slein, Maxime Fraser Franco , Jhoan Chávez, Amy Forsythe, Victoria M. Glynn, Egor Katkov, Kirsten M. Palmier, Zihaohan Sang, Rolando Trejo-Pérez, Bryn Wiley, Jennifer Sunday, Joey Bernhardt


Open science skills are increasingly important for a career in ecology and evolution as
efforts to make data and analyses publicly available and transparent continue to become more commonplace. However, open science skills are not typically taught in biology undergraduate programs. In learning core concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), students must also gain skills in open science or they will miss out on opportunities to prepare for future careers. Core open science skills, like programming and practices that promote reproducibility and data sharing, can be taught to undergraduate students alongside core concepts in EEB. Yet, a major challenge in teaching open science skills and EEB concepts simultaneously is the high cognitive load associated with teaching multiple disparate concepts at the same time. One solution is to provide students with easily digestible, scaffolded, pre-formatted code in the form of vignettes and interactive tutorials. Here we present six open-source teaching tutorials for undergraduate students in EEB. These tutorials were developed through a graduate student based working group entitled Data Bytes in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. These tutorials combine teaching data literacy and programming (using R) with analyzing publicly available data sets to teach fundamental ecological and evolutionary concepts and by doing so, introduce students to open science concepts and tools. Spanning a variety of EEB topics and skill levels, these tutorials serve as examples of how educators can integrate open science tools, programming, and data literacy into undergraduate teachings in topics of ecology and evolution.




Education, Life Sciences


active learning, ecology and evolutionary biolody (EEB), online tutorials, open science, Teaching, undergraduate education


Published: 2023-08-31 08:04

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CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
The authors declare no conflict of interest

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data used in the tutorial presented in this paper are available as follows: Tree Swallow Life History: R Basics & Data Exploration and Tree swallow and sexual dimorphism and sexual selection tutorial - https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14156801.v1; Anticosti historical data tutorial - Government of Canada. Record ID: 9dda09b0-649f-4002-b207-7b204eb81cbb, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/9dda09b0-649f-4002-b207-7b204eb81cbb; Alberta trees tutorial - Borealis. https://doi.org/10.5683/SP3/PZCAVE; Chronic wasting disease tutorial - Government of Alberta: https://www.alberta.ca/chronic-wasting-disease-history-in- alberta.aspx#jumplinks-0; Understanding Biodiversity with Stream Invertebrates - Government of Canada. Record ID: f2ac0ae9-dd2f-4a70-b059-f8a49d9f5982, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/f2ac0ae9-dd2f-4a70-b059-f8a49d9f5982