Reflection: Checks for Understanding Limiting factors and models of population growth (2 of 2) - Section 4: EXPLAIN: Exponential versus logistic


Once students have developed a conceptual understanding of a concept through a learning experience, they are usually ready to formally describe that concept. In this lesson, students begin with a quick presentation of exponential and logistic growth curves and then develop logistic growth curves of the Yellowstone American Bison population from real historical data. From this experience, students attempt to formally describe exponential and logistic growth curves. To help students check for understanding, I provide a textbook definition for comparison. 

An obstacle with providing a definition for comparison is that it is often too tempting. Even students that try not to look will usually sneak a peak when they get stuck. One solution to this problem is a simple technology hack: put the definition in students' documents, but make the definition white instead of black. When students highlight the text they can see the definition. However, if I do not tell students that a definition is already on their computer screens, they will not be tempted to look. Once students have developed their own formal definitions, then I show them the highlighting trick. Of course, if used often, students will catch on and this hack loses its effectiveness.

  Checks for Understanding: Invisible ink
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Limiting factors and models of population growth (2 of 2)

Unit 4: Populations
Lesson 3 of 16

Objective: Students will be able to 1) distinguish between an exponential and logistic growth model; 2) draw exponential and logistic growth curves; and 3) identify exponential and logistic growth in populations of American Bison and African Lions.

Big Idea: Growth models help ecologists understand population changes. How might we examine the growth of actual and theoretical populations to define exponential and logistic growth models?

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graphic limiting factors and models of population
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