Bio Anthro Lab

Anthropology 1L:  Biological Anthropology Lab

Overview | Objectives & SLOs | Requirements | Expectations | Grading | Make-Up Work and Extra Credit | Schedule & Labsheets to PrintSustainability in this Class

In 2014, I will be at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (, for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship on Sustainability and Pedagogy.

ANTHR1L Fall 2013, Room 431
Anthr1L MW 12:40pm-2:00pm Section #80338
Anthr1L Th  2:20pm-5:25pm Section #80344

Instructor: Michelle Y. Merrill    Office: Room 429C

Office Hours & Contact Info

Fall 2013 Anthr1 Lab Syllabus (PDF)


Biological Anthropology is the scientific study of humans as biological organisms: our biological diversity, our evolutionary relationships to other organisms, and our origins, including the study of living primates, human variation, and the fossils of human ancestors and related species.

The lab course will give you opportunities to explore this science in greater detail, giving you a better understanding of the material you are learning (or you have learned) in your lecture course.  You will have opportunities to participate in discussions and simulation activities (games) with your classmates, and may even perform some measurements and tests on one another.  You will get to carefully observe andvery carefully handle skeletal material and casts of fossils.

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Course Requirements

  • You must be currently enrolled in, or have already passed ANTHR 1 (lecture).
  • Bring your printed labsheet for the week to each session; check the Lab Schedule to see what you should print for the week. The labsheets are on the password protected portion of the Cabrillo website (the instructor will give students the login and password on the first day of class). It is always a good idea to bring a calculator, and any lecture materials (e.g. textbook and notes) to lab.
  • Work with your lab team, but do not copy answers without understanding the process through which they were determined.
  • Arrive on time to lab and do not leave until you check out with the instructor or the instructor dismisses the class. Students are expected to participate in setting up and cleaning up lab materials.

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Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

By completing this course, students should be able to apply the scientific method and lab techniques to the comparison of living and fossil human and non human primate specimens.  Specifically, students will be expected to:

  1. apply the scientific method to the analysis of lab activity results or materials
  2. demonstrate the principles of natural selection, inheritance and basic genetics
  3. identify bones and bone elements of the skeleton in humans and other species
  4. compare and evaluate non-human primate and human skeletal and dental features
  5. classify primates according to diagnostic features of taxonomic groups
  6. observe and evaluate primate behavior using anthropological practices
  7. demonstrate and apply anthropometric techniques
  8. identify key anatomical features of the hominids and other taxonomic groups
  9. analyze and compare skeletal materials to determine or infer species, age, sex, stature and behavior of the living organism

This class provides opportunities to develop skills in all of Cabrillo’s “Core Four” competencies:

I. Communication: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and/or Conversing
    • comprehending written and spoken laboratory instructions
    • noting observations, results or measurements
    • writing out responses to thought questions

II. Critical Thinking and Information Competency: Analysis, Computation, Research, Problem Solving

  • careful observation and measurement
  • analyzing simulation results or observations of materials
  •   solving problems by applying basic mathematics and careful reasoning
III. Global Awareness: An Appreciation of Scientific Complexities, Social Diversity and Civics, and Artistic Variety
  •  using the methods and practices of biological anthropology
  • learning biogeography of human ancestors and other primates
IV. Personal Responsibility and Professional Development: Self-Management and Self-Awareness, Social and Physical Wellness, Workplace Skills
  • arriving on-time and prepared to do the assigned work
  • taking personal responsibility for completeness and accuracy of labsheets
  • working productively with peers to complete assignments
  • asking for clarification and assistance from the instructor

Common Courtesy and Common Sense

Students frequently discover that not everyone shares their personal beliefs, experiences, and convictions.  Respect for many points of view is required in this class.  Disagreements are healthy and help us to learn, but students must maintain a respectful attitude and courteous conversation at all times.  My goal as an instructor is not to convince you to hold a particular opinion on controversial issues, but to encourage you to think critically and with an open mind about the facts, evidence, ideas and theories presented in class.

Phones and pagers should be SILENCED at all times and any calls or messages must be ignored during class (an exception may be made for caretakers who can keep their phones/pagers on vibrate for emergency situations, provided the instructor is notified ahead of time). You should have nothing in your ears other than hearing aid devices if needed.  Texting during class is not acceptable.

Calculators, tablets, and laptop computers are permitted during class provided they are quiet and they are being used to improve your learning in class.  Even smart phones are permitted for taking notes or doing research when appropriate. Classroom etiquette regarding other portable electronic devices is not unlike takeoff and landing on an airplane – they should be turned off and stowed away.

These and other behavioral norms are expected to minimize classroom disruptions and avoid disturbing your fellow students. Arrive on time for class. Do not interrupt the instructor or your classmates while they are speaking, but by all means DO raise your hand when you have a question or comment. Basically, use a little common sense, try to imagine what is likely to annoy your instructor or your classmates, and then avoid doing those things if you wish to remain in class.

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As with so many things, the essence of success in lab is showing up – not only being physically present, but being prepared, paying attention and actively engaging with the work at hand.  Your grade will be based on:

  1. your participation (25%) note that you will loose partial credit for the day if you are more than a few minutes late, if you are unprepared (don’t have your printed labsheet), if you are disruptive or if you are not productively engaged with the work,
  2. your completion of lab assignment sheets (50%),
  3. your performance on the mid-term lab exam (10%), and
  4. your performance on the final lab exam (15%)

100-90% = A
89-80% = B
79-70% = C
69-60% = D
59-0% = F

Participation: This course requires active participation each day of class so it is important for you to attend every class session, arrive on time, and come prepared. Your participation not only enhances your own learning, it benefits other students in the class, especially when working in teams (most of the time in this class). Your level of participation is reflected in your grade and since you can’t participate if you are not in class, absences and tardiness will also be reflected in your grade.

Labsheets will be accepted for review upon completion each week.  If you need more time to finish answering thought questions, the labsheet will still count as on-time if submitted at the beginning of class the session after completion of the lab assignment.  Please staple or clip sheets together to hand in for review.  Labsheets are graded for completeness, not for accuracy.  Confirming the accuracy of your lab notes is your responsibility; if you are in doubt about your answers on a labsheet, check with the instructor during the lab activity.

Each labsheet will be graded on a 10-point scale:

10: very thorough and complete, nothing missed
9 : left one or two small questions/blanks, or a response to a thought question was not very thorough
8 : left 3 or 4 blanks, multiple thought questions with weak responses, or a major thought question unanswered
7 : many blanks, multiple questions or page left incomplete
6 : 1/3 of the assignment undone
5 : 1/2 of the assignment undone
… etc.

Exams are open-note, so you are well advised to carefully and thoroughly complete all lab sheets, and keep them neat and in order.  While your work in regular lab sessions will most often be in teams, you may need to work independently during the lab exams. Cheating on exams is grounds for an immediate failing grade in the class.

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Make-Up Work and Extra Credit

Setting up for labs and exams takes a lot of time and effort, and many lab activities require the presence and participation of your classmates.  Therefore there are no make-ups for exams without a verifiable excuse (e.g. note from doctor’s office).  See schedule for exam dates and times.

Only one make-up lab is allowed per student. Make-up labs will consist of completing related work in the Human Evolution Coloring Book as described here (or other work to be determined by the instructor) and must be completed within two weeks of your absence.  You will still be responsible for knowing what went on in lab and how to recognize materials for lab exams, so I strongly recommend contacting a classmate and discussing the lab activity with them, and making notes on a copy of the lab sheet (available on website).

If you know you are going to miss a lab or exam, contact me to see if you can attend another one of my sections. If you make these arrangements, it will not count as your one make-up.

Extra-credit work may be available provided you request it by the 12th week of class.  The assignment, its value, and its due date are entirely up to the discretion of the instructor (whiners will receive less credit).

Accommodations: ADA Compliance

All students needing accommodations should inform the instructor ASAP. Veterans may qualify for accommodations. Wounded Warriors may have acquired injuries which through the American with Disabilities Act(ADA) entitles the use of accommodations to ensure equal opportunity for students with verified disabilities. To determine if you qualify or need assistance with an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student Services, Room 1073, 479-6379, or the Learning Skills Program, Room 1073, 479-6220.

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Sustainability Considerations in this Class

I am personally very concerned about sustainability, and Cabrillo College is increasing its efforts to operate sustainably (particularly in those ways that also save the college money for operations, thereby making more money available for offering classes). I have instituted several policies and practices to make this class more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective:

  • minimal handouts: most informational materials are available online and/or will be displayed onscreen during class, to reduce paper use/waste and copying costs; I will double-side any materials I do need to distribute.
  • low-waste lab activities: I tend to select and design lab activities in which most of the supplies are reusable. Please handle them appropriately, and offer any suggestions you have for further savings or reuse of supplies.

Please do the following to help Cabrillo College meet our sustainability goals (and save the college money so that we can direct it to classes and student services!):

  • responsible printing: If you can, please double-side your lab sheet printouts. If not, consider printing on the blank backs of paper that has already been used once (e.g. drafts of homework or used handouts from other classes – avoid anything with personal information you do not want seen by your classmates). I don’t mind funky colors or newsprint texture, as long as your printout is clear enough for you to work with.
  • recycle properly: Almost all Cabrillo classrooms have three waste bins:
    • bottle/can recycling – most glass, plastic and juice boxes can go in here
    • paper recycling – any clean/dry paper or cardboard (NOT coffee cups or food plates) – but remember to keep all your labsheets for the exam
    • waste – this is the stuff that actually goes to the landfill (remember that Cabrillo has to pay for this, but not for the recycling, so only put it in here if you have to)
  • save energy: If you notice that the door is open and the heat is running, please close the door (let the instructor know if it gets too warm – we can contact M&O if the classroom is consistantly too warm). If you are the last person to leave the room, please turn off all lights and close the door.
  • reduce your commute impact: Bike, bus, or see if you can find classmates for carpooling. (I bike or bus nearly every day, and if I can do it, almost anyone can.) Over half of Cabrillo College’s carbon footprint is due to commuting, mostly solo trips in cars. Plus, the fewer cars coming to campus, the less we need to build, maintain and monitor parking. Learn more at!

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2 responses to “Bio Anthro Lab

  1. Pingback: Biological Anthropology Labs and Education Plans | Michelle Merrill's Cabrillo Anthropology Classes

  2. Really like the wordpress setup for classes hope this becomes standard

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