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Contents of the Lizard Pushups module

Synopsis: In this module the user plays the role of a behavioral researcher, investigating the "pushup" behavior of lizards. At the heart of the module is an exercise in which the user takes notes on encounters between (animated) lizards, and enters the data into a data table. This is then followed by a quiz to test observational ability and understanding of the concepts. Along the way, the concepts of territoriality, types of questions in behavior research, observer bias, coding behavior, and the "dear enemy" phenomenon, are explained and illustrated. The module is approximately 20 pages long.

1. Introduction

1a. Getting Started: Learning objectives and technical requirements

2. Setup: Animated lizards doing pushups; introduces the question: why do lizards do pushups?

3. Types of questions: Explains the difference between proximate and ultimate causes, and lists some variants of these two question types.

4. Gathering more data: Imagine you are watching lizards in your backyard. What do you notice about their behavior? How would you refine your question "why do lizards do pushups"?

5. Observer bias: Introduces the problem of observer bias, with an illustration using an animated lizard.

6. Observer bias and describing behavior: taking care in how you describe behavior is an important component of avoiding observer bias.

7. Coding behavior: you observe the behavior of an animated lizard, and you decide how you would desribe the behavior.

8. Coding behavior, con't: how an experienced behaviorist might describe the behavior of the animated lizard.

9. Territoriality: You make a map of your backyard, and record on it where you see the lizards.

10. Territoriality, con't: Your observations reveal some patterns. Then, a chance encounter with a strange lizard raises new questions.
---- Why territory? (background reading)
---- Why pushups? (background reading)

11. Neighbors versus strangers: You decide to stage encounters between lizards.

12. Preparations: setting up to stage the encounters and take down data.

13. Data sheet: A data table you can use to record data.

14. Watch the encounters and record data: Links to six staged encounters, in the form of animations.

15. Evaluate the data: Once you have recorded the data from all six encounters, you summarize the data, and take a short quiz to check that your observations were correct.

16. The "Dear Enemy" phenomenon: what the theory predicts, and what researchers have found.

---- Lizard Links
---- Lizard References

17. Summary

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