Zoology 250: Survey of the Invertebrates
What students said in 2009

About the course in general . . .

  • This course was a mandatory pre-requisite for my degree and I didn't have much interest in the subject UNTIL Dr. Palmer started showing us the amazing things inverts do! I won't be pursuing a career in invert biology, but I am so glad now that I took it. Dr. Palmer was engaging, funny, and explained things with great clarity, knowledge and enthusiasm. My favorite parts of the lecture were the videos and animations. They helped a lot, especially for parts concerning water flow and feeding.

  • It's so hard to pick just one thing! For the lecture, I loved everything. It was the most interesting course I've ever taken, it's so obvious that this course is somebody's love child.
        The lab was hands-on, and we were not only provided with required info, but things that were just plain friggin' cool! That makes everything 10 times better.
        The text explained things well and was like a story rather than a text. And the animations and study images on the web were so helpful.
        Honestly, I can't think of anything I'd change. Wait ... that's a lie! I think the annotated bibliography should be about 3 separate topics.
    NOTE: An important part of this course is the "story" of invertebrate diversity and evolution. So, the annotated bibliography is an exercise where students are asked to tell their own SINGLE story, based on material from three papers, about any subject or any genus of invertebrate (or protist).

  • I think Dr. Palmer did an amazing job! His drawings and explanations were very clear and helpful! I didn't like learning about protista (but that's not your fault). I'm surprised, but I actually loved the annotated bibliography assignment!

  • The videos and powerpoint presentations really made the class! I loved the already-written notes and lab manual - very helpful and makes it a lot less stressful for note-taking.

  • The sheer volume of material in both the lab and the lecture was a little overwhelming. I would recommend down-sizing the level of detail.

  • I liked this class a lot. It was really interesting and fun, and I learned a lot. The powerpoints, both in lab and class, were very helpful, as was the website! I used the links and slide pictures and movies to study and they were all really good. The course and lab had good overlap but still distinctly different aspects. The dissections in labs were really good. I really liked all the drawing we did in class.

  • I liked best the annotated bibliography. Searching for a good topic caused me to learn about a lot of other interesting things.

  • The annotated bibliography was great! So helpful to start thinking of research I want to do at Bamfield and grad school.

  • Annotated bibliography is 100% useless. Don't make us read papers only to summarize them. Pointless exercise - I would say remove it.

  • I loved all the photos and videos ... it kept it interesting and they were amazing. [But,] it seemed like we went through something different every day so it was hard to get interested or excited about anything.
    NOTE: Ummm . . . so you would prefer to have something the same every day?

  • I really enjoyed the course materials! It was a great way to gain exposure to the weird and wonderful diversity of invertebrate life. In the lab, the dissections were very useful for learning about internal anatomy. The sea star was amazing!

  • I would change nothing about this course. The material was overwhelming at first, but got manageable over time.

  • I think Richard Palmer is an amazing prof and I hope I am in another of his classes. His enthusiasm and excitement towards invertebrates cause the entire class to become more interested and involved.

  • The thing I liked the least was the style of the lecture tests. Going in I felt like I really had a good grasp on everything I needed to know, but I then found the wording to be extremely tricky and it threw me off.
    NOTE: Because different students all have skills at different tasks, the exams are structured to be a mix of multiple choice (for those good at making choices), fill-in-the-blank (for those good at memorization), and labeled drawings (for visual learners). Yes, some students find the multiple choice questions hard, but they are consistent throughout and the 'tactic' for answering them is explained well in class.

  • Gold Star of awesomeness for Dr. Palmer! He is the best! So enthusiastic and passionate and knowledgeable about his subject. I couldn't help but get excited about invertebrates. Almost every day I would come home with some cool fact to tell my friend.

  • This class was amazing. It's opened my eyes to so much and clarified things about weird animals that had always confused me. I would recommend this class to everyone. I had a great time in lecture and, of course, the lab. Most likely the best lab I will have in my university experience.

About the lectures . . .

  • It would have been nice to know the powerpoints weren't being tested on when we saw the first one.
    NOTE: Good suggestion. I will repeat this more often.

  • Too much time drawing - why can't you print these in course outline, so we can learn in class instead of draw?
    NOTE: If the finished drawings were handed out in class, they would be no different from (well, actually, quite a bit worse than) the drawings in the textbook. The act of drawing, of piecing together the parts of a picture with your own hand, of wondering how the parts connect together as whole while you are drawing them as a great way to learn and to focus. Those who prefer finished, polished and more detailed drawings can always use the textbook.

  • I am a visual learner and found the drawings incredibly useful throughout the lecture.

About the labs . . .

  • As well as to the deuterostome lab and having to learn about spiders and creepy crawlers - presented a whole different realm of anxiety and it therefore wasn't a good learning experience.

  • Reduce the number of organisms need to look at/study for in lab.
    NOTE: Compared to the vastness of animal diversity, we have already greatly reduced the amount of diversity we cover in lab. We try to cover a at least one representative from each of the main animal groups; with 33 phyla, and a number of important subphyla and classes, though, this still makes for a lot of animals to know.

  • The lab allowed me to apply the theoretical knowledge from lecture to the actual organism. I've never been able to look in-depth at invertebrates like I have in lab.

  • [I liked best] the insect lab with the live bugs.

  • Shell diversity and insect displays makes it more enjoyable.

  • I found the displays in lab to not only be incredibly interesting, but a great tool for learning.

  • I liked how the lab content coincided with lecture material.

  • I really liked the diversity of animals, and being able to see them alive. It makes a HUGE difference to understanding concepts.

About the WWW material . . .

  • The web was by far the best tool of the course.

  • Absolutely awesome! Very well organized.

  • The website was good. I didn't buy the text, and I didn't feel like I needed it, because the notes and website covered everything.

About the text . . .

  • The text was awesome, even if it was old.

  • Wonderful to read - great figures.

  • Wish they'd make a newer edition.
    NOTE: Yep, me too.

  • As for the text, what was said in the very first class was true. One could sit and read it very comfortably.

  • The text was interesting and helpful - though it would have been nice to have a glossary!

  • Very easy to follow, please keep using it.

  • It was often hard to find the function of certain structures. I would have to look them up on the internet later.

  • Not necessary to buy text - never used.

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(revised Dec. 10, 2010)