A Textbook Case
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Illinois University
This case explores two-species interactions, especially mutualism, and presents students with a problem, namely, the inconsistent treatment of the concept of mutualism and symbiosis in many textbooks. It begins with a question that students will probably not feel qualified to answer: Is the equation of mutualism and symbiosis in a textbook correct? It then guides students through the concepts of two-species interspecific interactions, and returns to the central question. After exploring the case problem thoroughly, it ends with some thoughts about evolutionary dynamics. The case was designed for an introductory ecology course or a science education course. It can also be used with slight modifications in an introductory biology course.
- After this case, students will feel more able to critique textbooks.
- Through his criticism, students will be better able to place textbooks and websites within the context of the scientific method.
- After this case, students will have a deeper and richer understanding of interspecific interactions, especially mutualism.
KeywordsMutualism; symbiosis; species interactions; science textbooks; scientific literature
Topical AreasScientific method
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsAnalysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Ecology | Science Education | Science (General) |
This case has an optional PowerPoint presentation. Click the link below.
Mutualism: So What Is It Anyway?