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Dissertation Proposal

IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

Appendix A: Experimental Instrument


This is the instrument to be validated and refined in this research: 10 forced choice
(multiple choice questions) and 24 non-forced choice (yes/no questions). Each forced-choice
item obliges the test-taker to select a scientifically normative statement amidst a field of two or
more intuitively appealing distracters. Each non-forced choice item is an isolated statement that
embodies either a scientifically normative concept or an intuitively attractive but unscientific
one, and the student is asked to judge whether it could be part of a biologists explanation of the
phenomenon at hand. Non-forced choice items are grouped below by whether they represent the
scientific conception or a specific family of unscientific-but-intuitive alternative conceptions.
See main text and Tables 1 and 2 for explanation. During actual test administration using the
online survey mechanism Qualtrics, the non-forced choice statements will appear one at a time in
random sequence to dilute any order effects. The forced-choice items will appear in the
sequence given here.
Root Scenario: Ghost Crabs on Beaches
Beaches all over the world are inhabited by ghost crabs. They are called ghost
crabs because they are so well camouflaged that it creates an illusion of phantomlike transparency against the sand. But they are not really transparent. Rather,
each population has markings that closely resemble the color and composition of
the local beach. This protects them from visual predators such as sea gulls flying
high above. Beaches with light sand have light crabs, dark beaches have dark

Photos by Dorothy Pugh, Chuck Elzinga, and Ray Farm

crabs, and speckled beaches have speckled crabs.

Now suppose theres an island way out in the Pacific Ocean, with beaches of very
light-colored sand. As expected, the ghost crabs here have a light color that, on
average, closely matches the sand. There is a volcano on this island, but it has
been dormant for many centuries. Then one day the volcano becomes active again
and begins spewing huge clouds of black ash and dust into the sky. As the dust
slowly settles back to Earth, it gradually makes the local beaches darker. Five
hundred years later, the ghost crabs are, on average, much darker than before,
closely matching the newly darkened beaches.

Before the
volcano
became
active:
Light crabs on
light sand

500 years
later:
Dark crabs
on dark
sand

Dissertation Proposal

IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

PART ONE: Non-Forced Choice Items


Main Prompt: How do you think a scientist like a professional biologist who studies
crabs would explain this change? You will be shown a series of 24 statements.
Please indicate whether each statement could be a part of the biologists
explanation, or if it would not be part of her explanation.
(ex) The crabs in each generation are able to change colors to match the
current background.
Yes, this could be part of the biologists explanation
No, this would not be part of the biologists explanation
Correct/Scientifically Normative
Even before the volcano began spreading black dust on the beaches, some crabs
were already slightly darker than others.
In each generation some crabs are darker and some are lighter, but the average
darkness of the population is changing from one generation to the next.
Coloration varies quite a bit from crab to crab, and those whose markings best
match the beach are able to reproduce most successfully.
As generations go by, genes for lighter colors get weeded out of the population.
Once in a while, a chance mutation gives an ofspring a lighter or darker shade.
Because only a small percentage of young crabs can make it to adulthood,
coloration may decide who survives and who doesnt.
In the competition to avoid predators, darker ofspring have an advantage over
lighter ofspring.
Ofspring who happen to be born darker tend to outlive the others, and so pass on
their better genes, mutations, and traits.
Natural Kinds/Essence are Immmutable (potentially intuitive but unscientific)
When the volcano began spreading black dust on the beach, the population of
light-colored crabs migrated away in search of a beach that still had light
sand and was unafected by the volcano. Then later, a diferent species of
darker crab moved in and colonized the volcanic beach.
Because crabs cannot change color to match their background, and because one
kind of crab cannot turn into a diferent kind of crab, the original population
simply went extinct. A diferent, darker kind of crab later migrated in and
colonized the island.
There had always been two separate species of crabs on the island: one light, one
dark. Before the eruption, the light species dominated the beach, but after
the eruption, the dark species could now avoid predators better, so they
came to dominate. This is survival of the fittest.
The light crabs mated with a species of dark crab, creating a hybrid species that
was better camouflaged against the newly darkened beach.

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IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

Evolutionary as Endogenous/Progressive/Whole-Species (intuitive)


Now that the population has adapted to the newly blackened beach, all the crabs
are equally dark and well camouflaged.
In each generation, most young crabs were a bit darker than their parents.
Evolution is the process by which nature improves itself over time, and in this case
it will push the crab population toward a perfect fit with the environment.
Evolution adapts the population of crabs to its new environment to prevent it from
going extinct.
Evolutionary Adaptation via Within-Generation/Lifetime Changes (intuitive)
Mutations for darker coloration arose in the crabs because they needed
camouflage to avoid predators.
Some crabs learned that eating certain foods would make their shells darker, and
passed this learning to their ofspring.
To grow, crabs must molt or shed their hard exoskeleton (outer shell), and then
grow a new one. Within limits, crabs can adjust their color each time they
molt to make themselves a little darker. Their ofspring then inherit this
darker color, and are thus able to become even darker. And so on.
Exposure to the volcanic dust caused helpful mutations in the crabs DNA.
Nonsense/False/Illogical (neither scientific nor intuitive)
Predatory birds would be just as likely to spot a darker crab as a lighter crab, no
matter what the current color of the beach.
The crab population was already in the process of becoming darker, so the volcano
erupted in order to give them a more suitable beach habitat.
The volcanic dust raining down from the sky stuck to the crabs shells like paint,
making them better camouflaged.
Exposure to the volcanic dust caused harmful mutations that prevented the crabs
from reproducing.
(continued on next page)

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Kevin Gof

PART TWO: Forced Choice


Multiple Choice (10 Questions): Please choose the answer that a biologist would
select.

Slightly darker

Same shade

Suppose that after 250 years of volcanic activity, the once-white beach has become
a medium gray, as shown in the background above. If a biologist were to take a
random sample of 10 crabs from the population, which of the above would she
expect her sample to be like? Choose the best answer: A, B, C, D, or E.

Now suppose that after another 250 years of volcanic activity 500 total the
beach has become a dark charcoal gray, almost black. If a biologist were to take a
random sample of 10 crabs from the population, which of the above would she
expect her sample to be like? Choose the best answer: A, B, C, D, or E.

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Kevin Gof

Rocky island crab

Volcanic ash has slowly been dusting the beach for many years now, and the beach
is steadily getting darker. Shown above is a big adult crab and three young crabs.
Which might be the ofspring of the adult crab?
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

Only the lighter gray crab


Only the darker gray crab
Only the equally gray crab
Only the equally gray crab and the darker gray crab
All three crabs

How did darker colors first appear in the crab population?


A. Darker markings arose because the crabs needed to blend in with the ever
darker sand.
B. Random changes in the DNA gave some crabs a darker color and some crabs
a lighter color.
C. The new environment stimulated helpful changes in the crabs genes.
D. Members of the original light-colored species mated with crabs from a
diferent, darker species.
E. The crabs deliberately changed color to blend in with the background.
A population of crabs has hundreds of individuals of a single species. Which
sentence best describes the group of crabs?
A. The crabs share all the same traits and are identical to each other.
B. The crabs share all of the most important traits, and the small diferences
between them do not afect how well they reproduce or how long they live.
C. The crabs share all of the most important traits, but also have diferences
that afect how well they reproduce or how long they live.
D. The crabs share very few traits and are completely diferent from each other.
(continued on next page)

Dissertation Proposal

IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

Augmented Scenario
This island was originally created a quarter million years ago by an undersea
volcano that built lava all the way to the oceans surface. About 100 miles away
theres a second volcanic island that was formed at the same time. Soon after they
formed, these sister islands were both colonized by a single species of ghost crabs.
(These crabs had floated in from far, far away on pieces of driftwood after a big
hurricane.)
Today, however, the crabs on island #2 are rather diferent. Instead of soft, sandy
beaches, this other island has rocky, rugged shorelines, and the crabs here now
have longer, stronger legs for clambering through the craggy terrain. Also, the
shore is speckled with colors, and so are the crabs. Finally, the main food source
here consists of hard-shelled mussels and oysters growing on wet rocks, and the
crabs here have powerful shell-crushing claws to get to the soft meat inside. This is
diferent from the sandy island, where the crabs have tweezer-like claws for
plucking prey from sand and seaweed.
Today, biologists classify the sandy island crabs and rocky island crabs as two
diferent species, even though they came from the same ancestor species many
years ago. What could have caused one species to change into two diferent
species?
A.
B.
C.
D.

Over time, many genetic changes may have happened in each group so
they could no longer breed with each other, and this made them diferent
species.
Even though there are some small diferences between the crabs, they are
mostly alike and really still belong to one and the same species.
Each group of crabs needed to adapt to a diferent island in order to avoid
extinction, so each group slowly changed over time to become a new crab
species.
The two diferent island environments caused the crabs to become
diferent species with diferent traits over time.

On the rocky island, how did crabs come to have stronger legs and sturdier claws?
A.
B.

All organisms have the ability to adapt to new or changing conditions; the
crabs on this island had to develop stronger legs and claws to adapt to the
new environment.
Crabs developed stronger legs by climbing up and down the rugged terrain
all the time, and their claws got stronger by repeatedly pinching the tough
shells of their prey; their ofspring then inherited these new traits.

Dissertation Proposal
C.
D.

IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

The new high protein food source (mussels and oysters) made their
muscles stronger, and their ofspring inherited this stronger musculature.
The crabs with weaker legs and claws did not get as much food and had
fewer healthy ofspring than those with stronger legs and claws.

Over many generations, the crab population on the rocky island evolved stronger
legs and claws on average. Lets compare this to a high school track and field
team. This season the team has faster race times, higher high-jumps, and longer
shot-puts than the previous season. Which explanation for this change is most
similar to the way a biologist would explain ghost crab evolution?
A.
B.
C.
D.

The members of the track team grew taller, bigger, and stronger over the
of-season.
The members of the team trained harder and lifted more weights this
season than last season.
This year more students tried out for the same number of varsity slots.
As in any sport, all members of the team naturally improved over time.

Suppose a storm sweeps a small handful of ghost crabs of the sandy island and
over to the rocky island. When they make landfall, they begin climbing up and
down the rugged shoreline, and soon all this exercise makes their leg muscles
stronger. How will their ofsprings leg muscles compare to the ofspring back on
the sandy island?
A.
B.
C.

These ofspring will probably have stronger leg muscles than those back on
the sandy island.
These ofspring will probably have weaker leg muscles than those back on
the sandy island.
These ofspring could have stronger or weaker leg muscles; neither is more
likely.

Suppose a storm sweeps a small handful of ghost crabs of the sandy island and
over to the rocky island. Two of these crabs mate with one another. Compared to
its parents, the ofspring should develop which of the following features?
A.
B.
C.

Longer legs
Shorter legs
Either longer or shorter legs; neither is more likely.

Demographics / Moderating Variables


Thats the end of the test. Thank you! The following questions are for statistical
purposes only. The researchers who designed the test want to try it out with a
healthy diversity of students. These questions are optional but your answers are
appreciated.
What is your age?
Gender? (male, female)
Race/Ethnicity? (American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or
African American, Hispanic or Latino, White, Other: _____________)
Do you attend a public or private school?
What grade are you in? (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, college)

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Kevin Gof

Are you currently taking biology? If so, what grade do you think you will receive for
the course? (A, B, C, or D or lower) If you already took biology, what grade did you
get? (A, B, C, or D or lower)
Have you already studied the theory of evolution in biology class? (yes, not yet)

Dissertation Proposal

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Kevin Gof

Appendix B: Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection High School Version


(CINS; Evans & Anderson, 2013)
Your answers will test your understanding of the Theory of Natural Selection.
Please choose the answer that best shows how a biologist would answer each question.

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Introduction to Galapagos finches

Finches have been studied on the Galapagos Islands by many scientists.


The original finches most likely came to the islands one to five million years ago.
Scientists have evidence that 14 species of finches on the Islands evolved from a single species.
Species found on the islands have different beak sizes and shapes.

______________________________________________________________________________________________
1.

What will probably happen if a breeding pair of finches is placed on an island with no predators and plenty
of food so that all the birds live?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The population of finches would stay small because finches only have enough offspring to replace
themselves when they die.
The population of finches would double and then stay about the same.
The population of finches would grow to a large number and would keep growing.
The population of finches would grow slowly and then stay the same.

2.

A population of finches lives on an island for many years where there are predators and limited food. What
will probably happen to the population if conditions on the island are stable?

a.
b.
c.
d.

The population will grow rapidly each year.


The population will remain stable, with few changes each year.
The population will get larger, then smaller each year.
The population will get smaller, then larger each year.

3.

Finches on the Galapagos Islands require food to eat and water to drink. Which statement is true about the
finches and the available resources?

a.
b.
c.
d.

Sometimes there is enough food, but at other times there is not enough food for all of the finches.
When food and water are limited, the finches will find other kinds of food so there is always enough.
When food and water are limited, the finches all eat and drink less so there is always enough.
There is always plenty of food and water to meet the finches' needs.

4.

Depending on the size and shape of the beak, some finches get nectar from flowers, some eat insects in the
bark, some eat small seeds, and some eat large nuts. Which sentence best describes how the finches will
interact with each other?

a.
b.
c.
d.

Many of the finches on an island cooperate to find food and share what they find so that they all live.
Many of the finches on an island fight with one another and the physically strongest ones win.
There is more than enough food to meet all the finches' needs, so they don't need to compete for food.
Finches compete with other finches that eat the same kinds of food, and some die because they do not get
enough to live.

5.

A population of finches has hundreds of birds of a single species. Which sentence best describes the group of
finches?

a.
b.

The finches share all the same traits and are identical to each other.
The finches share all of the most important traits, and the small differences between them do not affect how
well they reproduce or how long they live.
The finches are all identical on the inside, but have many differences in appearance.
The finches share all of the most important traits, but also have differences that may affect how well they
reproduce or how long they live.

c.
d.

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Kevin Gof

6.

How did the different types of beaks first appear in the finches?

a.

Changes in the finches' beak size and shape happened because of their need to be able to eat different kinds
of food to survive.
Changes in the size and shape of the beaks of the finches because of random changes in the DNA.
Changes in the beaks of the birds happened because the environment caused beneficial changes in the DNA.
The beaks of the finches changed a little bit in size and shape during each birds life, with some getting
larger and some getting smaller.

b.
c.
d.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Introduction to South American guppies

These are small, colorful fish found in streams in Venezuela.


Scientists have studied guppies in both natural streams and in lab experiments.
Males have black, red, blue and reflective spots.
Brightly colored males are easily seen and eaten by predators, however females tend to choose more brightly
colored males.
In a stream with no predators, the number of males that is bright and flashy increases in the population.
If predators are added, the number of brightly-colored males gets smaller within about five months (3-4
generations).

7.

What kind of variation in the traits of the guppies is passed on to their offspring?

a.
b.
c.
d.

Only behaviors that were learned during a guppys life.


Only traits that were beneficial during a guppys life.
Only traits that were coded for by a guppys DNA.
Only traits that were affected by the environment in a beneficial way during a guppys life.

8.

Fitness is a term often used by biologists to explain the evolutionary success of certain organisms. Which
trait would someone who studies these fish think is the most important in deciding which fish are the "most
fit"?

a.
b.
c.
d.

Large body size and able to swim quickly away from predators.
High number of offspring that live to reproductive age.
Excellent at being able to compete for food.
High number of matings with many different females.

9.

What is the best way to describe the evolutionary changes that happen in the guppy population over time?

a.
b.
c.
d.

The traits of each guppy in the population change slowly.


Guppies with certain traits reproduce and become more common.
Behaviors learned by certain guppies are passed on to their offspring and become more common.
Mutations happen in the guppy population to meet the needs of the fish as the environment changes.

10. What could cause populations of guppies in different streams to become different species?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Groups of guppies could accumulate so many differences that they would not be able to breed with each
other, and this would make them different species.
All guppies are alike and there are not really different species.
Guppies that need to attract mates could change their spots in many ways, and this would make them
different species.
Guppies that want to avoid predators in the different streams could change their patterns so they are not so
bright, and this would make them different species.

(continued on next page)

Dissertation Proposal

IRB Protocol Appendices

Kevin Gof

11. If food and space are abundant, and there are no predators, what will likely happen if a mating pair of
guppies is placed in a large pond?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The guppy population will grow slowly. The guppies will have only the number of offspring that are needed
to replace those that have died.
The guppy population will never become very large, because only organisms such as insects and bacteria
reproduce that way.
The guppy population will grow slowly at first, then will grow to a large number, and thousands of guppies
will fill the pond.
The guppy population will keep growing slowly over time.

12. A population of guppies lives for a number of years in a pond with other organisms and predators. What will
probably happen to the population if everything in the pond remains the same?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The guppy population will keep growing in size.


The guppy population will stay about the same size.
The guppy population will slowly get smaller until no more guppies are left.
It is impossible to tell because populations do not follow patterns.

13. Guppies eat a variety of insects and plants. Which statement describes the availability of food for guppies?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Sometimes there is enough food, but at other times there is not enough food for all of the guppies.
Guppies can eat a variety of foods, so there will always be enough food for all of the fish.
Guppies can get by on very little food, so the food supply does not matter.
Finding food is not a problem since there is always plenty of food.

14. What will probably happen in a guppy population when the amount of food is low?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The guppies cooperate to find food and will probably share what they find.
The guppies fight for the available food, and the stronger guppies will kill the weaker ones.
Genetic changes that allow guppies to eat new types of food will appear.
The guppies that cannot compete for food well will die from a lack of food.

____________________________________________________________________________
Introduction to Canary Island Lizards

The Canary Islands are seven islands just west of the African continent
The islands gradually became colonized with life: plants, lizards, birds, etc.
Three different species of lizards are found on the islands
These three species are similar to one species found on the African continent
Scientists think that the lizards traveled from Africa to the Canary Islands by floating on tree trunks washed
out to sea.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
15. A population of lizards is made up of hundreds of individuals. How similar are they to other lizards in the
population?
a.
b.
c.
d.

All lizards are the same.


All lizards are the same on the outside, but have differences in their internal traits.
All lizards are the same on the inside, but have differences in their external traits.
All lizards share many similarities, but have some important differences in their traits.

16. Where did the variation in body size of the three species probably first come from?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The lizards needed to change in order to survive, so new helpful traits formed.
Random changes in the DNA created new traits.
The environment of the island caused certain changes in the DNA of the lizards.
The lizards wanted to become different in size, so helpful new traits slowly appeared in the population.

Dissertation Proposal

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Kevin Gof

(continued on next page)

17. How are traits in lizards inherited by their young?


a.
b.
c.
d.

When a parent lizard learns to catch certain insects, its young can inherit the ability to catch those insects.
When a parent lizard get stronger claws through repeated use in catching prey, its young can inherit the
stronger claw trait.
When a parent lizard is born with an extra claw on each limb, its offspring can inherit the extra claw.
When a parent lizards claws are weak because the available prey is easy to catch, its young can inherit the
weakened claws.

18. Fitness is a term often used by biologists to explain the success of certain organisms. Below are descriptions
of four lizards. According to a biologist, which lizard is the most fit?
Lizard A

Lizard B

Lizard C

Lizard D

Body length

20 cm

12 cm

10 cm

15 cm

Offspring
surviving to
adulthood

19

32

22

21

Age at death

4 years

3 years

4 years

6 years

Other
information

Lizard A is very healthy,


strong, and clever

Lizard B is dark-colored
and very quick

Lizard C has the largest


territory of all the lizards

Lizard D has mated with


many males

a.

Lizard A

b. Lizard B

c.

Lizard C

d. Lizard D

19. What is the best way to describe the evolutionary changes that happen in the lizard population over time?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The traits of each lizard in the population change slowly.


Lizards with certain traits reproduce and become more common.
Behaviors learned by certain lizards are passed on to their offspring and become more common.
Mutations happen in the lizard population to meet the needs of the lizards as the environment changes.

20. What could have caused one species to change into three species over time?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Groups of lizards lived on different islands. Over time, many genetic changes may have happened in each
group so they could no longer breed with each other, and this made them different species.
There are small variations between the lizards, but all the lizards are mostly alike, and are all members of a
single species.
Groups of lizards needed to adapt to the different islands, so the lizards in each group slowly changed over
time to become a new lizard species.
Groups of lizards found different island environments, so the lizards needed to become new species with
different traits in order to survive over time.