Module 1 Assignment: Visualizing Taxonomy

Open Pedagogy Assignments are assignments in which students use their agency and creativity to create knowledge artifacts that can support their own learning, their classmates’ learning, and the learning of students around the world. (See this peer-reviewed article for more details.) The assignment on this page is aligned to a learning outcome of Biology for Non-Majors I and we’ve identified the module where the reading appears. The assignment can be created with basic web and computing tools, a cell phone camera or any video recording device, Google or Word documents, and your learning management system.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how relationships are indicated by the binomial naming system

In the introductory module on defining biology and applying its principles, we provide a general overview of how and why biologists study life. For this assignment, you are going to reflect upon how biologists organize and classify the different forms of life so that we can better understand them.

The product of your work may help future students to learn about some of the most difficult concepts in the course. Thus, think of your audience as friends who are taking Biology for Nonmajors in the next term. Your objective is to help them understand the classification systems that biologists use by visualizing the concept.

First, choose an organism to identify using biological taxonomy. This can be any plant or animal that you find interesting, peculiar, or from your experience. Think again about the future students who may be seeing your visualization: can you select an organism from your local environment or that has particular meaning from students that attend your institution?

Second, identify the scientific name in binomial nomenclature of the organism, as well as the series of classifications that make up the taxonomic hierarchy for your organism. According to the system proposed by Carl Linnaeus there are eight taxons, listed here from the broadest to the most specific:

  • domain
  • kingdom
  • phylum
  • class
  • order
  • family
  • genus
  • species

Third, how would you visualize this organism’s taxonomy? Someone viewing the visualization should be able to understand hierarchical or nested relationships of the taxonomic groupings. You can use any means you wish to make your original visualization: draw, collage, digital illustration, video, slideshow, and so on. A successful visualization will include clear and accurate labels.

Lastly, share the visualization with your instructor. After grading and with your permission, your visualization may appear in future sections of the course to improve other students’ learning!

A Note To Teachers: The first time your students complete this assignment, choose the best ones, and ask students for permission to include them in future sections. Just post the visualizations in the appropriate module in the LMS. The idea is to have students generate content that other students can learn from in this assignment.