Zoology 250: Survey of the Invertebrates
What students said in 2011
NOTES in bold font are responses from the instructor
About the course in general . . .
- Dr. Palmer had all the resources and material available to set students up for success (e.g., practice questions, study images, animations, etc.). Not something that is very common among university profs. This was BY FAR my favorite class, lab and prof in four years of my undergrad degree. I am definitely considering going to Bamfield.
- Professor Palmer was fantastic! I could tell he loved what he does and was very knowledgeable. The notes were very useful and I loved the PowerPoints! He really encouraged me to learn more on the subject and was always more than willing to answer any questions I had. There was nothing I didn't like about this class.
- The instructor is burning with passion and takes a personal interest in encouraging our curiosity. It's obvious the instructor loves what he's doing -- the lecture are well-crafted and the PowerPoints are beautiful. In short, the instructor is simply brilliant. Having said this, the shear amount of material is extremely difficult to master.
- Something I found challenging about the lecture was to try and copy the pictures the instructor drew and write down what he was saying at the same time.
- I liked having all the notes in the course pack and not having to print them out each day. I also really liked how clearly the instructor explained things with the drawings. I did not like the multiple choice format on the exams: The multiple T/F form drives me nuts and has me second guessing myself and I felt it doesn't show what I actually know.
NOTE: I review the multiple choice questions each year to make sure that they are effective at distinguishing the better from the poorer students. But these make up only 50% of the exam, the rest is fill-in-the-blank or labeled drawings, to try to be fair to students who like other question formats.
- I hated the fill-in-the-blank questions on the exams.
NOTE: See preceding comment. I guess the punch line is that different students hate different parts of the exam, so it's not possible to please everyone.
- I liked Dr. Palmer. After my introductory biology course, I was scared that Zoology courses were terrible. Dr. Palmer is the reason I'm back into loving Zoolgy and I will continue taking more courses only thanks to this amazing professor.
- The best part of the lectures was how structured they were. The PowerPoint presentations were intriguing and captivating. The worst part of the lectures was how much time we spent on worms. SO MANY WORMS!
NOTE: Yep, there are lots of "worms". However, they make up nearly 1/3 of all animal phyla, so it's best to make peace with them.
About the lectures . . .
- Diagrams were well explained and helpful. Thanks you for not simply reading off PowerPoint slides!
- Too many drawings.
NOTE: Many students don't realize how incredibly useful it is to do drawings. They are an aid to grasping the essential structure and arrangement of parts of organisms and much more effective than PowerPoint drawings or handouts.
- There were lots of diagrams and if you missed a class it was hard to catch up.
About the labs . . .
- The lab was so much fun and the introductory presentation at the beginning of every lab provided a clear idea about what I needed to learn and remember.
- The labs were very interesting and I enjoyed the dissections. I would have liked to see a little more instruction in the lab like maybe going around the room as a class and talking about the different specimens instead of just a PowerPoint at the beginning.
- One word . . . fantastic! Great TAs, and I enjoyed the dissections the best.
- I liked the atmosphere of the lab. We got to go at it at our own pace and explore the diversity and functions of different organisms.
- Bring back the buffet!
NOTE: We would love to continue the invertebrate buffet we used to offer, but we were advised to stop due to budget cuts and to increased concerns about liability (e.g., food hazards).
- I felt like the labs were a waste of time. All we did was look at things we could have just as easily seen on Google pictures without getting up at 8 AM and sitting there for three hours. Nothing was for marks, even. A lab is not necessary for this course.
NOTE: Ummm . . . sounds like you should have taken some other course.
About the WWW material . . .
- The website material was very useful. The flash animations on the laboratory portion of the website were particularly helpful.
- I found the study images especially useful for quizzes.
- Very easy to use and really helpful. Better quality study images would be nice though.
NOTE: We are in the process of upgrading all of the study images to higher resolution and hope to finish this upgrade during the 2012 class.
- The web site was amazing! It had many excellent study tools. Thank you for putting it together. If I was to add anything it would be the "cool inverts papers" (this link was broken).
NOTE: Sadly, Canadian copyright laws are changing so drastically that the posting of pdfs, even on password-protected course sites accessible only to students, is increasingly discouraged. Write your MP if you don't like this limitation.
- The WWW material was helpful. Better organization of the web page would be extremely helpful.
NOTE: I am happy to try to make the web site better organized, but without specific comments on what aspects needed work it's hard to know what changes would be most helpful.
About the text . . .
- The text was interesting to read. However, I found it almost useless when needing to look something up, very hard to find structure functions & definitions. I ended using a lot of Wikipedia.
NOTE: This is a fair criticism, but the other available textbooks that are much better organized for finding information are either too detailed for this introductory course or not as well-written, so it is a tradeoff. I prefer a text that is truly fun to read and motivates students to read beyond what is assigned.
- The text was AWESOME. Great diagrams and writing style. This was one text whose main purpose was not holding up my desk lamp. Unfortunately, the text didn't have a glossary, which made some terms difficult to understand.
- It was exactly what you had to know well laid out.
- I liked the textbook's story-like writing.
- The text was very interesting. When I first purchased it I started reading it for fun because it was so engaging.
About the annotated bibliography assignment . . .
- I liked the annotated bibliography project the best.
- For the annotated bibliography assignment it was useful to see the example and past submissions, however it would have been helpful to see an entire submission, with all three annotated bibs and summary. This would be useful in demonstrating the relatedness of the articles and how closely they all need to fit together. For me, the most difficult part of the assignment was finding three papers that "worked" together and I'm still unsure whether they "told a story" through the three papers.
NOTE: Probably the best advice I can give is: follow your curiosity. Let your curiosity guide you to three papers that address different aspects of some organism or phenomenon you found interesting.
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(revised Dec. 29, 2011)