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One of the challenges for teachers without a lab, is how to allow students to observe natural animal behavior directly. The freely available videos by the International Wolf Center are ideal for observation of naturalistic interactions, and last for long enough (5-15 minutes) to enable the practice of different observational techniques. This learning activity introduces novices to the quantification of animal behavior, and assumes no specific prior knowledge of focal, scan or ad libitum sampling protocols. After a brief discussion on states and events in animal behavior, students have to practice data collection using one of the International Wolf Sanctuary videos. Following on further discussion of their questions and mistakes, they are divided into groups, each group performing one of the three primary forms of data collection while watching a longer wolf video. This 10-minute data collection period allows students to directly experience how and why different data collections protocols work for various types of questions in animal behavior. This is a highly interactive class, with limited uni-directional didactic lecturing. It combines both individual work and group discussion, making the most of limited class time to introduce students to the benefits and limitations of different data collection techniques, also leading to improved understanding of Jeanne Altmans seminal 1974 paper.
Associated files
Resource Group Animal Behavior Society Collection
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
General Biology Competencies
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords animal behavior, observation, scan sampling, focal sampling, ad libitum sampling
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description This is a collaborative learning exercise, engaging students through active learning. It could be adapted fully to a "flipped classroom."
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Aliza le Roux
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation University of the Free State-Qwaqwa
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • alizaleroux
Submitter Name Aliza le Roux
Submitter Email
Rights n/a
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2015-02-24
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2015-06-02 14:49:53
Last Modified By Id
  • tmourad
Date Last Modified 2018-09-17 13:27:36
Release Flag Published

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