Posts related to methods and theories for teaching, higher education, and sharing information with one another.

Arboreal Quadruped Lab

This is a lab I use in ANT 2511 – Human Species here at UCF. Briefly, the lab centers on student groups following an arboreal quadruped around campus for one hour. As they do so, they also record it’s movements and activities in 10-minute increments. Since UCF has not been overrun by primates (other than humans, of course), we use a proxy animal – the friendly neighborhood squirrel (eastern gray squirrel). It’s a fun exercise designed to give students a taste of primatology fieldwork. See below for more information and a sample lab worksheet.

A friendly UCF squirrel awaits eager students.

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3D Hominin Lab

This lab provides a ‘hands-on’ opportunity to explore hominin evolution using 3D models. I’ve been using a version of this lab since the fall semester of 2017 at the University of Central Florida. The lab is divided into two parts. The first portion requires students to explore 3D models of hominin fossils created and uploaded to Sketchfab. The second portion requires them to use their notes from these comparisons and complete a quiz (which can be offered in-class or online). The lab is designed specifically for introductory courses with high enrollments. My sections typically have between 150-300 students.


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Social Complexity: The Game!

I’m a long-time fan of games – card games, board games, and video games. I suppose this is an increasingly common thing as we live in a golden age for indie games. This is as true for board and card games as it is for video games. Recently, I began working on a game concept and design to simulate the ways human groups of differing social complexity might interact in time and space. Thus, Social Complexity: The Game was born. (more…)

Using Virtual Archaeology to Teach Historical Archaeology

The use of digital technologies for visualizing past environments is experiencing something of a renaissance. This is due to dropping costs of hardware and an increase in the intuitive usability of 3D/virtual environments. The ability to deliver interactive content via the internet (a.k.a. Web 2.0) provides new ways of sharing research wider audiences. These developments also provide exciting pedagogical potentials. This post discusses how my teaching of historical archaeology benefits from these emerging technologies. Specifically, the use of a virtual world environment to explore historical architecture as described in James Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life.

The New England Saltbox House
The New England Saltbox House

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Pedagogy, Engaged Anthropology, and Zombies

I love zombies! Not only are zombies popular, but in the immortal words of Levi-Strauss, zombies “are good to think with.” Zombies stand (stagger?) as powerful metaphors supporting everything from emergency preparedness to invasive species education. Scholars draw on zombies as part of an engaged pedagogy to spark student interest. This includes Drezner’s Theories of International Politics and Zombies and Harman’s Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx. I have also joined the horde by using the zombie apocalypse to teach geospatial analysis. Anthropologists have studied zombies for decades and I draw on this rich tradition as part of my freshman seminar to introduce students to anthropology with an exploration of zombies past, present, and future.

Zora Neale Hurston’s immortal photo of Felicia Felix-Mentor, a zombie from Haiti.

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