An exercise in observation

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FSLT 2015: Virtual Exhibit
Given I have very limited experience teaching HE and do not have a specific module/course to
evaluate, I chose to create a very basic exercise in primate behavior for my presentation. I have
done a similar exercise when I taught a biological anthropology course and lab during my MA
program. This exercise could be used either in a lab or lecture learning session. I have created
the slides with information for the students, and have also added notes for the viewer
highlighting different aspects of learning. The skills acquired from completing an activity such as
this will prove very valuable for the students, as the exercise will facilitate a variety of different
learning styles and other transferable skills (i.e. critical analysis, communication, information
synthesis). In conclusion, I will provide a brief summary of analysis and evaluation of the
exercise.
Introduction to Primate
Behavior: An exercise in
observation
PRESENTED BY
JAIMA H. SMITH
NOTES TO VIEWER(S) WILL
APPEAR AS TEXT IN THE UPPER
RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THE
SLIDE, OR LOWER RIGHT HAND
SIDE OF SLIDE. BULLET POINTS
ARE FOR STUDENTS.
Introduction
I would begin the exercise by giving a brief overview of studying primate
behavior and how to conduct behavioral observations. Each point on the
slide will guide the dialogue(flow) of my introduction. (Dialogic/Experiential)

The study and observation of primates has been and will continue to be a
fascinating scientific endeavour

When we study non-human primate behavior we can learn a lot about our
own evolutionary origins, as well as insight into human social behavior

Develop an understanding of why primates (animals in general) behave
they way they do

Different research environments: field, captivity, and lab. Pros and cons of
each
Learning Objectives
In working through this primate behavior lab exercise, students
should have a basic understanding of primate behavior in
general, but will learn how to observe and record behavior by
completing this exercise.
(Outcomes-led/Activity-based/Dialogic/Participatory)

Understand the importance of studying primate behavior; how we
study primate behavior (experimental design)

Create an ethogram of behaviors

Record observations of primate behavior using various sampling
techniques and create an activity budget

Critically evaluate and discuss the relevance of your findings
Observation Sampling Methods and Tools:

Scan/Focal (individual)

State vs Event behavior

Continuous Sampling

Instantaneous Time Sampling

Ad-libitum

Ethogram

Focal subject(s)

Inter-observer reliability
*To start this section of the exercise, I
will discuss the different sampling
methods used in behavioral
observation, and some of the necessary
resources. I would provide definitions.
*We can discuss the pros and cons of
sampling methods and which are most
suitable for specific types of research
environments.
Altmann, J. (1974). Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behaviour, 49.
Ethogram
Record what you see, not what you think!
For this exercise, students would
most likely have some sort of
workbook containing necessary
resources (i.e. data worksheets,
sample ethogram-or at least
handouts).

An ethogram is a comprehensive list(or inventory) and a description of all the
behaviors of an animal

A complete ethogram can be quite long, for this exercise we will create a more
condensed version

Avoid listing the ‘behavior’ in your definition. For exampleFeeding: searching for/manipulating/ingesting food
Play: one individual chases or wrestles with another, in a non-aggressive manner
Exercise 1: Behavior
Identification
Typically the students would be working with a lab
partner, but the nature of this exercise requires they
work alone. There is potential for them to pair-up at
the end of the exercise to compare notes on what
they observed. (Activities-based/Outcomes-led)

Please identify the behavior illustrated in the following
pictures. These pictures will help you to become more
familiar with different types of behavior

Please also name the primate! Common name is fine.
(You should be fairly familiar with most of these by now!)
*This portion of the exercise
requires the students have
basic knowledge of what a
behavior looks like. This is
just a small sample of
behaviors. There is ample
opportunity for discussion on
the topic of primate behavior
(similarities/differences with
humans).
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 6
Video Exercise 1
The students will watch this 8-minute video and
record every behavior they observe. They will
then use this list of behaviors to create their
ethogram.
(Activities-based/Outcomes-led)

During this 8-minute video, simply record
every behavior you can observe. We will
discuss at the end and you will then use
the list of behaviors to create your
ethogram.
www.living-links.org
Video Exercise 2:
At the end of the video, there is potential for
students to pair-up and compare behavioral notes
(a way to measure inter-observer reliability).
(Activities-based/ Participatory/ Outcomesled/Experiential/Dialogic)

For this portion of the exercise you will watch the
10-minute video and utilize one of the sampling
methods to record behavioral observations.

Determine if you will watch one individual (focal)
or the entire group/few individuals (Scan).

If you choose to work with your lab partner, you
must choose the same sampling method so that
you are able to compare notes at the end (for your
benefit).
www.living-links.org
Conclusion of Exercise:

Summary of results/analyze data

Create activity budget

Discuss results

Compare notes & observations
There are ways to make this exercise
more advanced and/or challenging for
students (i.e. having students come up
with predictions/hypotheses, more
difficult data analyses, and have them
write up results in a final report ).
Evaluation of Exercise
Assessment

This exercise can be used in lecture/lab

Lab reports/exercises

Can be tailored to an upper or lower level
class

Participation

Quizzes/Tests

Provide students with evaluation forms at
the end of course so they are able to
provide feedback on what they liked about
course(exercise) and/or would to improve
on

Facilitates a variety of learning styles and
provides students with valuable,
transferable skills

Students must be active learning
participants in this exercise in order to gain
the most benefit
Thank you!
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