Active Learning Resources

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In Spring 2014, the Anthropology Teaching Forum began developing a series of active learning resources for anthropology courses at UTSA. In conjunction with the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Archaeological Research Legacy Program, we are creating active learning and hands-on resources for any instructor or graduate student teaching assistant to utilize for undergraduate or graduate learning experiences. The resources currently under development focus on archaeological and cultural anthropology topics to complement the fossil cast collections the department already holds for biological anthropology. These resources will be made available by Spring 2015 for any instructor’s use. We will provide documentation about the collections and hopefully incorporate materials to guide instructors in creating assignments or longer-term activities using the collections. We hope that these resources will promote hands-on, experiential, and active learning in UTSA classrooms to bring the experience of doing anthropology right to the students.

Archaeological Artifacts Collection
This collection contains a range of artifact types with context information. The artifacts are particularly relevant to local San Antonio archaeological remains but also includes artifacts recovered from sites in Central America. We include information about each artifact, a bibliography of references for different types of artifact analysis, and ideas for activities to use these artifact in class. All artifacts included in this resource are legal discards curated by the CAR Legacy Program.

Dendrochronology Collection
We are working with Tree Amigos tree removal company in San Antonio to collect and create tree cross-cut specimens that can be used to discuss the methods of dendrochronology in class. We have collected approximately 10 specimens thus far and are working to collect more. Each specimen will be varnished to ensure longevity and the visibility of rings. We will include documentation about the procurement of the specimens and ideas for activities to engage your class in discussing this important archaeological dating method.

Faunal Collection
We are about to embark on a project to collect deer remains from areas around San Antonio to create a robust collection of faunal materials to simulate archaeological remains. After proper cleaning and treatment, the remains will be catalogued. We plan to differentially treat the remains in terms of burial to provide variation in preservation as well. We will provide information on possible activities involving anatomical identification activities, minimum number of individuals assessments, and subsistence scenarios.

Ethnoscience Collection
We are also excited to start working to develop a collection for students to get first-hand experience in the diversity of traditional ecological knowledge. We hope to develop a resource of items with cultural significance based in traditional knowledge that can be used to reveal to students the great variation in how people can categorize and conceptualize the world. If you have any thoughts about the type of items we could include in this resource, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Cultural Contact Collection
Our most recent ATF meeting has lead to our newest inspiration for hands-on learning resources! We will create a collection of objects to be used in a kula trading ring simulation as a way to demonstrate cultural contact, exchange, and communication. We will develop a range of follow-up activities or assignments that can be used for different class types and levels from in-class discussion questions, to homework assignments, to term papers. We hope this resource will be an experiential model for students learning about cultural systems.

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