… AND I LECTURED ABOUT AQUATIC APES Faculty share memorable moments — some funny, others touching — from their years in the classroom.
n our second year teaching here, the dean of our college typically comes into the classroom for a day. Now the dean is technically our supervisor, our boss, so for some it can be a little nerve-wracking. I was doing my evolution of bipedalism day, the day where we talk about the Aquatic Ape, among other things. And the then-dean, Ben Ogles, he had intense curiosity about tons of things, but I was still kind of nervous because that lecture gets a little crazy and a little fun, and the students were loving what I was talking about: aliens and the aquatic apes and everything else. I couldn’t really gauge the whole lecture what his response was, but I noticed that he kept — when I was lecturing — putting little tick marks at the top of the page that he was writing notes on. At the end of the lecture he came up, shook my hand, and said, “Thanks very much. I learned 27 new things today that I never knew anything about.” Here’s this guy that’s got his Ph.D. in psychology, who has been around for years and knows a lot. To have him say he learned 27 new things was great, because I realized students were having the same experience going through the lecture. —Hogan Sherrow, assistant professor of anthropology; at Ohio University for six years
HY FIELD WORK ROCKS When she teaches, associate professor of geological sciences Alycia Stigall waits for that “aha!” moment when her students begin to connect the lectures with their work in the field. “In geology, there is no substitute for field experience,” Stigall says. “Concepts that seem esoteric to students in the classroom often become crystal clear the instant they are presented with real-world rocks.” This experience is best exemplified in the carbonate geology course she teaches on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. “It is not a simple course, and it is definitely not the vacation that our friends at home joke about!” The group studies how limestone rocks formed during the Pleistocene and visit environments in which these sediments accumulate today. Because these sediments comprise the skeletal remains of organisms, students learn to identify both living creatures and rock fragments as they work. Her first group of students astounded her: They were not only up to the task, but they were always the first to leave and last to return to the field station each day. “One night in the social area, I found some of my students engaged in a heated discussion with members of a biology class from another university. When I walked over, my students explained that these biologists simply were refusing to accept that they had been misidentifying Halimeda, a type of green algae,” she says. “My students were correct, of course.” So dedicated were her students, they were more successful at biological identification than students whose sole purpose it was to study biology that week: “I was completely blown away by the knowledge they accumulated and the burning desire to learn more.”
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