Companion activities

3rd January 1997 at 00:00
ADVANCED BIOLOGY STUDY GUIDE By C J Clegg with D G Mackean P H Openshaw and R C Reynolds John Murray Pounds 17.99

ADVANCED BIOLOGY STATISTICS By Andrew Edmundson and David Druce Oxford University Press Pounds 9

The Advanced Biology Study Guide is a companion volume to Clegg and Mackean's Advanced Biology Principles and Practice, although it can be used independently and with other A-level materials as a source of ideas and information on practical activities, projects and problems.

There are five sections divided into 30 chapters with more than enough material for a five-term course, whether it is planned for modular or linear assessment. Some selection is essential and there's advice about this in the introduction. The same section also deals with safety issues and the use of reference material.

Each chapter offers several practical activities for laboratory, classroom or field. They may be linked to the development of skills or techniques (like the preparation of a root tip squash), the generation of data information (like the study of the structure of the liver and pancreas) or they may be investigations. These give the opportunity for developing the process skills associated with experimental design.

The fourth type of activity, "demonstration", covers a range including the use of videos or CAL (for example, the chapter on Evolution uses the CAL programme Blind Watchmaker and the video Fossil Heroes). Details of suppliers and date of release are given. This is a valuable addition to the A-level library.

Advance Biology Statistics provides all the information ever likely to be needed on statistics by students at this level and perhaps even in the first year at university.

Its chapters range from basic ideas, like ways to organise data and explanations of media, mean and mode, to more demanding subjects, such as testing differences between samples (including t-test and z-test) and the relationship between variables (Product-Movement correlation co-efficient, Spearman-Rank correlation co-efficient and the Chi-square test of association). Language is clear and the biological examples used to illustrate the text are wide ranging. For example, Chi-squared is used with data of bees visiting Vaccinium and Erica and hypothesis testing features different trout populations in a stream.

The presentation, however, is dull and dour, like a traditional maths book, but then for any student concentrating on the text and explanations, trying to get to grips with the delights of statistics, this is unlikely to matter. I recommend this as a useful additional reference book for students who find mathematics difficult.

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