Scientific method & evolutionary theory elucidated by the ivory-billed woodpecker story

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4 Scopus citations


Large, introductory, nonmajors biology classes present challenges when trying to encourage class discussion to help reinforce important concepts. Lively in-class discussion involving hundreds of students is more successful when a relevant story told with passion is used to introduce a topic. In my courses, each semester begins with thorough treatment of the scientific method, followed by the multiple Darwinian theories of evolution. To reinforce these two important themes, the story of the ivory-billed woodpeckers ecology, evolution, conservation, and probable extirpation has been effective in provoking class dialogue and reinforcing the two themes. Although I describe this approach as a large-class activity, it works well in courses of all sizes. In this article, I discuss teaching with storytelling and detail the use of the ivory-billed woodpecker story as a teaching tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Biology Teacher
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Open inquiry
  • evolutionary theory
  • in-class discussion
  • ivory-billed woodpecker
  • scientific method
  • storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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