Author: Katie Nelson

Placing Stickers on Student Papers for Positive Reinforcement

John M. Coggeshall Clemson University March 2, 2015 As a senior male professor with grey hair and a beard, I have no trouble presenting an image of gravitas in the classroom; I also have a relatively low percentage of A’s in my classes. Thus, I need to find ways to appear “friendlier” to my undergrads without compromising academic rigor or modifying my own personality. I have discovered a simple but effective way to inject a little brevity into grading. My wife and I donate to several charities (e.g., Nature Conservancy), and we get an overwhelming amount of “free” mailing labels and stickers from these groups, piling up in a desk drawer at home. Several years ago, I decided to peel off one of these stickers and place it on each A paper I return, for all classes. I’ve also found some old Hallmark “gold crown” stickers that I place on the best paper or test in each batch. One may also purchase “smiley faces” or similar stickers in craft stores. By the way, students who admit they did not do the reading that day get a boring mailing label rather than a colorful sticker (I’m in the telephone book anyway, so I thought it wouldn’t matter). I also explain the “sticker system” on the first day of class, and then remind them periodically. The impact has been overwhelmingly positive....

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Managing Short-Term Leaves of Absence

Lauren Miller Griffith February 7, 2015 Let me start by saying that coffee is a godsend and I have no idea how I made it through my first semester on the tenure track without it. Why would I give up such an essential part of my morning (and afternoon…) routine you might ask? The answer is the cooing, squirming, and occasionally screaming, bundle of joy that is currently blissfully asleep in his crib. Our son made his big debut exactly 4 weeks into the semester. I had plenty of time to work on a plan for dealing with my maternity leave, but he still decided to throw a wrench in my plans by showing up a week early. I have been very lucky to have the support of wonderful colleagues who have encouraged me to take all of the time off that I need. I know that others aren’t so lucky. I am voluntarily making the decision to start teaching again after only 3 weeks of leave, which I know some people will disagree with, but for our family and our circumstances it works. This means that we didn’t have to hire a replacement for me, but it also raised the question of how I would handle my classes during this 3-week stretch. This experience has prompted me to think about what any faculty member can do to manage...

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Why Students Take Anthropology (at a School with No Department)

Anthony Kwame Harrison January 28, 2015 Teaching introductory anthropology gives us the opportunity to introduce a broad range of students, with vastly different interests and anticipated career trajectories, to the distinct perspectives and approaches in our field. A handful of these student will go on to take more anthropology courses or, possibly, pursue it as a career. Yet even those students who don’t, can come out of an Introduction to Anthropology class with their worldviews expanded and/or with the critical firepower to support the just causes they’ll encounter in their lives. As instructors a key aspect of this involves reaching our students in meaningful ways—making the class more than just a way of earning three credits, meeting a requirement, or filling a schedule. On the first day of the first anthropology course I ever took at the University of Massachusetts, I was delighted to see a familiar face in the front of the lecture hall. Richard Holmes was a doctoral student who, five years earlier, had taught social studies at a small independent school I attended in Historic Deerfield. Seeing “Mr. Holmes” again, I was immediately on board with the class—personally invested in making it a great experience. The rest is history. Having taught anthropology now, off-and-on, for eighteen years, this emphasis on getting and keeping students on board has become central to how I approach introductory courses. The...

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Processing Anthropology from an Undergraduate Student’s Perspective

Processing Anthropology from an Undergraduate Student’s Perspective Caitlin Homrich May, 18, 2014 Anthropology courses and curricula are experienced by students uniquely, as each student brings a unique perspective to the classroom, fieldwork, readings, and assignments. Among the various factors that contribute to this perspective, such as reasons for taking the course or previous education within and outside of the department, is the student’s identity—race, ethnicity, class background, language, gender, etc. My own time in anthropology courses has shown that students can hear and understand the same anthropological concepts from the same lecture or activity in very different, sometimes even contradicting, ways. Usually, this is due to the background knowledge with which they associate, process, and understand the new concepts. This idea is supported by what I’ve learned from various faculty and student groups concerned with teaching and learning. To illustrate, I’ve written a brief poem that depicts how the complex abstractions of anthropological theories and dispositions can be experienced by someone of my own identity, of which the most salient roles and cultures are: working class, rural, white, woman, first-generation college student, soon-to-be graduate student, and social justice advocate. These poems describe some experiences I’ve had in which my anthropological self has battled with the rest of my identity, particularly the part of me that belongs to a rural, working class community where I internalized the values of progress,...

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What Anthropologists Should Know

What Anthropologists Should Know Lauren Miller Griffith, Ph.D. University of Arkansas April 1, 2014 Keywords: learning objectives, cognitive domain, affective domain “Now I laugh when I go to the store and see The Jungle Book next to a display of bananas.”  This is what one of my students told me when I asked what he was getting out of being an anthropology major.  While this may just seem charmingly irreverent, what it captures is a deeper realization that his was of seeing and relating to the world is changing.  His comment reflects recent lessons on Latin America, the romantic notions Europeans often held of the tropics during colonialism, and the ways in which Western demand for certain commodities shapes the lives of those who produce them.  Not to put words in his mouth, but it might be fair to say that anthropology makes students more aware of their role in a global society. I asked my student this question after being asked by my own mentor what I thought anthropology students should know.  This was not as easy of a task as one might assume.  After unproductively stewing over my email for a while, I asked my colleagues.  Collectively we rehashed the learning objectives that appear on our introductory syllabuses.  Then I asked myself what I am most frustrated with students not knowing by the time they get to...

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