Saint Louis University

Department of Biology

Dr. Shawn Nordell
Dr. Shawn E. Nordell

Associate Professor Ph.D., University of New Mexico

Contact Information:
Phone: (314) 977-4092
Fax: (314) 977-3658

Mail: Department of Biology, St. Louis University, 3507 Laclede Ave. St. Louis, MO 63103-2010

Courses offered: Principles of Biology II (BIOL 106), Introduction to Biology (BIOL 110), Evolution (BIOL 301), Animal Behavior (BIOL 436)

Research Interests: My current research encompasses two areas: animal behavior and metacognition in humans. In my animal behavior research I am currently examining communication networks between species. Traditional approaches to studying animal behavior focused on dyadic interactions with a single signaler and receiver. However, multiple animals often reside within a signaling and receiving range. Therefore, information from conspecifics as well as heterospecifics can be acquired by those not directly involved in a communication interaction. Eavesdroppers are individuals that can intercept signals communicated between others and these signals can contain important information regarding sex, status, location, and predators. I am currently examining the effect of heterospecific eavesdropping on diet choice in Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurius carolinensis).

My other area of research focuses on metacognition and student learning. Metacognition refers to the ability to self assess understanding and determine whether or not it is adequate. Previous research indicates that both students and faculty are not always accurate in their metacognitive abilities. In addition, expert learners are expected to demonstrate a transfer of learning where they can extend what they learned in one context to new contexts. I am currently examining the effect of cognitive complexity on metacognition and developing strategies to develop metacognitive abilities.

Research Opportunities: There are research opportunities available for interested and motivated undergraduate students in either research project. I am not currently accepting graduate students.


Nordell, S.E. and T.V. Valone. In prep. Animal Behavior: Concepts, Process, Application. 14 chapters, Oxford University Press (publication date is July 2013).

Nordell, Shawn. E. 2012. Using Twitter in the classroom. Teaching Perspective - St. Thomas University's Teaching Newsletter.

Nordell, Shawn E. 2011. When learning can be messy. The Notebook, Saint Louis University. Vol. 14:2

Reece, A. J., E. Crompton, and S. Nordell. 2010. Climate Change and Sustainability Lab Projects. Page(s) 502, in Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Volume 31 (K.L. Clase, Editor). Proceedings of the 31st Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), 534 pages.

Ingrum, J., S.E. Nordell, J. Dole . 2010. Effects of habitat complexity and group size on perceived predation risk in goldfish. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution. 22:119-132

Nordell, Shawn E. 2009. Learning How to Learn: A Model for Teaching Students Learning Strategies. Bioscene -The Journal of College Biology Teaching 35(1): 34-42.

Nordell, S.E. 2008.Why the rich get richer or Why are high achieving students much more likely to seek academic assistance than low achieving students? White Papers: Focus on Teaching and Learning 1(1): 33-40.

Valone, T.J., S.E. Nordell, & S.K.M. Ernest. 2002. Effects of fire and grazing on an arid grassland. Southwestern Naturalist 47(4): 557-565.

Updated 11/07/2012

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