We strongly support the recommendations outlined by the Pacific
Education Institute (2015). Student-driven field research represents
an ideal way to pique students’ natural curiosity and integrate
NGSS on a shoestring budget. Although students could study any
number of organisms in the field, we recommend that they consider working with lycosid spiders. With their characteristic eyeshine, wolf spiders are easily located at night and students can
use them in novel ways as a model organism to test any number
of hypotheses. Our pilot study regarding the abundance of wolf
spiders in differing habitats was easy to conduct, and the reflection
from the eyes of dozens of spiders kept our adrenaline pumping
and gave groups of K–12 students a hands-on activity to remember. As “students,” we conducted our own initial review, posed a
testable hypothesis, and collected and analyzed data using standard
field sampling techniques. Collectively, these efforts mirror the
overall goals for implementation of NGSS outlined by the National
Research Council (2015). Projects such as these may help students
acquire the mindset that they can become strong, independent
learners and help propel them toward future success in STEM-related careers (Dweck, 2006).
Alahuhta, J., Johnson, L.B., Olker, J. & Heino, J. (2014). Species sorting
determines variation in the community composition of common and
rare macrophytes at various spatial extents. Ecological Complexity, 20,
Bardier, G., Aisenberg, A., Toscano-Gadea, C.A. & Costa, F.G. (2015). Wooing
during day or night is not the same: an experimental study in the wolf
spider Schizocosa malitiosa. Ethology, 121, 958–965.
Barth, F.G. (2002). A Spider’s World: Senses and Behaviour (p. 394). Berlin,
Benson, K. & Suter, R.B. (2013). Reflections on the tapetum lucidum and
eyeshine in lycosoid spiders. Journal of Arachnology, 41, 43–52.
Brownell, S.E. & Kloser, M.J. (2015). Toward a conceptual framework for
measuring the effectiveness of course-based undergraduate research
experiences in undergraduate biology. Studies in Higher Education, 40,
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, NY:
Hodgson, J.Y.S., Barber, K.O. & Hustead, C.J. (2016). An inquiry-based
investigation of freshwater diatom ecology. American Biology Teacher,
Jaeger, R.G. & Inger, R.F. (1994). Quadrat sampling. In W.R. Heyer, M.A.
Donnelly, R.W. McDiarmid, L.C. Hayek & M.S. Foster (Eds.), Measuring
and Monitoring Biological Diversity: Standard Methods for Amphibians
(pp. 97–102). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Lundholm, J. T. & Richardson, P.J. (2010). Mini-review: habitat analogues for
reconciliation ecology in urban and industrial habitats. Journal of
Applied Ecology, 47, 966–975.
National Research Council (2015). Guide to Implementing the Next
Generation Science Standards (pp. 8–9). Washington, DC: National
NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, by
States. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Pacific Education Institute (2015). Field investigations: using outdoor
Table 1. A sample rubric for grading this activity. Student learning outcomes (SLOs) are listed in the text.
Grading scale: 16–18 points = A; 14–15 points = B; 12–13 points = C; 10–11 points = D; <10 points = F.
Did Not Meet SLO Goal:
(0 points each)
Met SLO Goal: Fair
(1 point each)
Met SLO Goal: Good
(2 points each)
Met SLO Goal: Excellent
(3 points each)
1 No citations 1–2 citations 3–4 citations 5–6 citations
2 Did not ask a question Asked a question about
Asked a question about
Asked a question about
3 or more variables
3 No identification Identified habitat Identified habitat and
between habitats, and
4 Did not select variables Selected a variable in 1
Selected a variable in 2 or
more locations and
measured them together
Compared a variable
collected together in 2 or
5 Did not propose
Proposed hypothesis Proposed hypothesis and
protocol, and collected
6 Did not organize or
Plotted data Plotted and statistically
analyzed, and compared
data between ecosystems