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Aligning Assessment with Learning Objectives

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I am using two learning objectives that I did not include on my last assignment, but are very important for my course. The activities form yesterday and today have helped be 


Learning objective 1: students will be able to predict how a behavior might change when a component of the behavior is altered.

Learning objective 2: student will be able to construct ultimate (evolutionary) explanations for behavior


Type of questions:


Context: in class we discuss how insects that can perceive ultrasound to evade echolocating bats. Typically, the behavior had two components. In the first stage , insects compare the delay between calls hitting each ear and use that information to turn away from the bat. If the bat is very close, the intensity of the call triggers the moths to dive.

This question originally appeared as a short answer. I have rewritten it as two multiple choice questions and a handful of matching. In the end, I feel that the short answer more effectively gets at the level of assessment that I want to use on my students.


Short Answer (this addresses both leanring objectives)

The gamasine mite Myrmonyssus phalaenodectes infests the ears of noctuid moths, often filling the ear completely. Sounds bad, I know, but these mites have the interesting behavior of only infesting one of the host’s ears. What, if any, effects might this have on the moth’s behavioral response to the ultrasonic calls of bats? Can you suggest an ultimate reason for the fact that mites only infect one ear per host? (10 points)



Multiple Choice

This question would address Learning object 1

1. The gamasine mite Myrmonyssus phalaenodectes infests the ears of noctuid moths, often filling the ear completely and blocking ear function. How would this influence the moth’s ability to evade echolocating bats?


A. Moths would be unable to escape bats because the could not hear them

B.    B. Moths would be able to avoid bats that are far away but unable to trigger a power-dive in response to a bat that is in the immediate vicinity.

C.     C. Moths would be unable to effectively avoid a distant bat, but could power dive in the presence of a bat that is close.

D.    D. Moths would be able to avoid bats but they could not trigger their power dive

E.     E. The mite infection would kill the moth


This question would address Learning object 2

2. The gamasine mite Myrmonyssus phalaenodectes infests the ears of noctuid moths. Interestingly, mites only infest one ear. Which of the follow are ultimate explanation for this behavior?


A.   A. Mites that infest both ears will make their host more susceptible to predation.

B.   B. Moths have evolved a defense against mites that show no preference

C.   C. Mites that display a preference leave more offspring

D.   D. A and C

E.    E. B and D.

F.     F. None of these




When I use matching on a test (usually in 100 level courses), I provide students with a grid of terms to draw upon. There are typically twice as many terms as spaces. They are to place the number of the all correct answer(s) in the blank to the left of the question. Note: there may be more than one correct answer.





power dive





















1.     __________________ These are the components of the behavior moths use to evade echolocating bats.

2.     __________________ Moth’s employ this behavior to evade bats in close proximity.

3.     __________________ A moth infested with mites in one of its’ ears have which component(s) of it’s ultrasound avoidance behavior compromised?

4.     __________________ This type of explanation for behavior would state that that parasitic mites only infest one ear in a moth because those mites without a preference increase the likelihood for their host to be eaten.


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