Zoology 250: Survey of the Invertebrates
What students said in 2007

About the course in general . . .

  • I appreciate this course for - not only each fact, knowledge, marks, or anything else but - perspectives. The course opened up a great window into the lives of these endlessly wonderful creatures. As Dr. Palmer said in the first lecture, I now view the world in a different way.
       Honestly, I had many moments in this course, like Thomas Huxley on The Origin of Species, that I feel so ashamed of not even having tried to look at these amazing animals. How stupid I was not to pay attention to this!
       Thank you, Dr. Palmer, very much, for teaching me a new look at life - "This View of Life".

  • The course was excellent. Professor Palmer made invertebrates seem almost as cool as vertebrates. I will never forget how Oligochaetes copulate or that jellyfish originate from polyps. Furthermore, I really recommend this course to others.

  • Not to float Dr. Palmer's boat or anything, but he is the best prof/lecturer I have ever had. The course was so well designed (notes, website, etc.) that you didn't even really need to go to class, but you'd go anyway just to hear him lecture. OK, sometimes "Rich" can get a little boring, but who doesn't? He is so enthusiastic about his subject that you can just tell he loves teaching it - he really wants his students to get as much out of the course as possible.

  • This is the first class I've ever taken where I honestly was motivated to learn more about the subject area based on the instructor's enthusiasm and teaching style. The lectures were taught in such a way that the material actually seemed interesting. The drawings were explained thoroughly, which greatly aided in understanding the different organisms.

  • Was really not sure what was required of the course. Thought that it was going to be more about the anatomy not about the taxonomy and the connections between animals. Rich's notes are not very organized and do not have any consistency between the animal groups we need to know. Did not like that you had to draw the diagrams.

  • The annotated bibliography was an assignment I really enjoyed; as you got to learn something very interesting but didn't have to get too in-depth with the article in your answers.

  • The instructor should warn people that take this course as a science option at the beginning that this course is very hard.

  • You made me want to learn more about a subject I initially wasn't interested in. I never thought I would say this, but thanks for a fun and very interesting class.

  • Knowing all the taxonomy was not so awesome!!

About the lectures . . .

  • Lecture was great, notes package was excellent, and examples of phyla was good. Wanted to come to class every day to learn more. Extremely well done.

  • Dr. Palmer is an INCREDIBLE lecturer. He has such a contagious passion for the material. I loved the slideshows - what a fun way to show us what we're actually learning about.

  • The way every subject was approached was never boring. He was always enthusiastic no matter what organism was being discussed. The drawings were incredibly helpful in learning and understanding the material. I also enjoyed the slide presentations that were put together; they allowed us to view the organisms we were drawing in real life and observe some of the characteristics that make them special. I also found the lecture outlines very helpful in keeping track of where we were in lecture.

  • The extreme amount of drawings and diagrams - if you missed a lecture for some reason and didn't have a friend to get notes, you'd be out of luck. Although I guess they were good for that reason! Sometimes, the drawings went too quickly through.

About the labs . . .

  • Labs were amazing. Ron and the TA were excellent. Easily the best lab I've taken so far at this university. Wish they (all courses) had labs this good.

  • The mollusk scavenger hunt was most probably not necessary, even though it was interesting.

  • I liked least about the labs was the shell diversity section (took too long, not important for the course).
    NOTE: For some of the hyperdiverse groups (e.g., Mollusca, Crustacea), it's simply impossible to do justice to them in lecture or in lab. So, for both of these groups, rather than require students to try to cope with a massive amount of testable material (in addition to all the other material we cover!), we try to give students simple a flavor of the diversity, mostly for fun and for the pleasure of seeing in one place, and at one time, representatives from as many of the different groups as possible.

  • [I liked the] mollusc tasting; having Gerry come in and show us the insect diversity. Allowing us to handle the insects was very cool and it helped me get over my fear of spiders!

  • The best part of the labs is the pre-lab and the exit quiz at the end. Lots of demos and materials to look at. It's the 'funnest' lab I have ever been in. Keep up the great lab! It's informative and jam-packed with a lot of stuff. I learned a lot in the lab. A "great job" to Ron Koss for all his help and assistance. The lab wouldn't be the same without him.

  • This has been the most developed course I have taken. The labs and lectures are timed correctly and all the kinks have been worked out!

  • Labs had so many cool specimens and demos and were very straightforward. You could work at whatever pace you wanted and leave when you were done. The quizzes were very helpful to keep me up-to-date with studying.

About the WWW material . . .

  • Website was too good to be true, not enough good things can be said about it. Well done.

  • Web material EXTREMELY useful - yay for the animations!!!

  • I found the web material incredibly useful, especially for labs. I would not change anything about the online website.

  • Web material was so helpful! I used these slides religiously to study for lab quizzes, etc. Also, movies were very cool and helpful.

  • I love the lab section [of the web site]. Please get updated pics for lab. '96 photos were of low quality.
    NOTE: Yes, by today's standards, some of the images are rather small and low resolution. As you might imagine, they were a huge amount of work to do, but were done in the days when most people connected to the internet by dial-up modem (and a 200K image was huge!), and when digital imaging hardware didn't have anywhere near the current capacity. So, we are working to improve them as best we can.

About the text . . .
    [NOTE: opinions about the textbook continue to be strong and divided]

  • It's as old as me.

  • Text was a little out-of-date, however, doesn't matter because it was so well written. So good I'm reading it in my spare time for enjoyment. Excellent choice of material.

  • Text easy and interesting read - but disorganization of it made it a huge pain as a resource. Worst text I've had in 3 years!
       - no glossary
       - topics jumped all over the place
       - index poor - ended up using web/ Wikipedia a lot

  • The text was easy to read but extremely difficult to look something up, since it is kind of all over the place. Since the notes were so clear, I ended up not reading the text at all due to the frustration of not being able to briefly look something up!

  • I also really liked the text. I liked the diagrams and explanations of different parts of the animals, and I thought it was useful for class and for the lab.

  • Did not illustrate things well. OLD! And just not what I consider a good academic textbook. It was horrible as a reference text.
    NOTE: This textbook does a better job of telling "the story" of invertebrates than any other on the market. But, yes, it is not a very easy book to use as a reference. However, students are not tested on any material in the text that is not also covered in lecture, so any student who prefers to purchase a different textbook to use as a reference is welcome to do so.
       Also, compared to other textbooks that are 50% or more expensive than this one, the drawings are exceptional in their clarity and simplicity. That is a great strength of the book and one reason we continue to use it as a text. Don't forget, the basic parts of crayfish and hydrozoan medusae haven't changed all that much over the last century!

  • The text coverage was quite comprehensive considering when it was published.

  • The text helped in lab.

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(revised Dec. 10, 2010)