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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Teaching and Learning Anthropology publishes analytical, reflective, and review articles on the topic of teaching and learning anthropology. The journal also publishes original undergraduate and graduate anthropological research and writing. We hope to engage a broad audience of students and faculty through open-access publishing.

We are currently seeking submissions from anthropologists in all subfields. 

Issue cover


Perceptions of Risk, Lives in Sacrifice: Service, Learning, and Liberation Pedagogy in Appalachia

In the Appalachian mountains, residents experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, exorbitant rates of incarceration, above-average mortality rates across the lifespan, and epidemically low educational attainment rates. The complexities of this region prompt consideration of the possibilities for an anthropology-inspired, liberation-focused pedagogy to redress structural inequalities. Experiential pedagogical approaches to learning mobilize students and communities toward common goals, though barriers exist to implementing these methods, including resource constraints and concerns about effectiveness. Amidst internal and external pressures on the teaching and learning of anthropology at the postsecondary level, this paper explores a case study in which students in a medical anthropology service-learning course partnered with the community to understand two broad areas: 1) perceptions of risk and control related to environmental hazards, and 2) motivation for participating in civic action. Student field notes and field work reflections provide data illustrating the way the project supported student learning of anthropology content as well as identity transformation. Using this case study, this paper first addresses the possibility of meaningfully engaging in community-based research while meeting course-based student learning outcomes. Second, this paper examines the operationalizing of anthropology methods to develop a process for measuring the impact of service-learning in anthropology courses, specifically related to anthropology content. Lastly, this paper considers the extent to which we can measure transformations of identity that result from immersive anthropology experiences. The results of this case study show that service-learning is a mechanism for both community-based research collaboration and measurable, positive impacts on student learning.

Integrating Anthropology and Biology: Comparing Success Rates and Learning Outcomes for University-Level Human Evolution Courses

Curriculum development in biological anthropology requires instructors to generate learning outcomes for both anthropology and biology majors. However, these students have substantially different backgrounds. Anthropology curricula do not always require biology prerequisites, and many instructors are concerned that anthropology majors may not be as prepared to learn biology content. As bioanthropological research increasingly relies on genetics and phylogenomics, a strong emphasis needs to be put on integrating biological content into anthropology courses. The core-level “Human Evolution” course at Virginia Commonwealth University is taught under an anthropology rubric. The course is divided into four primary units: two units cover topics that are also explored in lower-level biology courses (e.g., DNA inheritance) and two units focus on paleoanthropological topics (e.g., hominin taxonomy). Here, we compare results of course assessments between anthropology and biology majors across four semesters to determine whether students in the two majors performed differently on units with “biology” content versus “anthropology” content. A series of statistical tests reveal that overall, anthropology and biology majors are earning comparable final grades in the course. Additionally, when assessment results for units with differing content are contrasted, anthropology and biology majors scored comparably on “anthropology” content units. However, in some semesters, biology majors scored statistically significantly better in the “biology” units than in “anthropology” units, and in one semester, anthropology majors scored statistically significantly better than biology majors in “biology” content. These results suggest that it is biology majors, rather than anthropology majors, who are deficient in an integrated bioanthropological perspective. We recommend that anthropology and biology departments consider introducing an integrated curriculum that is interdisciplinary rather than multidisciplinary by design.



Helping Students Synthesize Academic Literature: Development of an Excel Research Grid

One of the key challenges for undergraduate students is learning to read, understand, and synthesize academic literature. To help students develop these skills, a research grid assignment using Microsoft Excel was developed. This assignment breaks down the key steps to data synthesis, including identifying and summarizing key parts of academic literature and comparing these parts across academic articles. The ability to sort and highlight data in Excel allows students to easily identify patterns in the literature related to their specific research topics. Student feedback following two semesters of use in a core physical anthropology course suggests that the process of creating and using the research grid improved student satisfaction with the research process.

Student Showcase

Fake News, Fake Science?: Reflections of Teaching Introduction to Biological Anthropology in the Era of Trump

Combating fake news and fradualent science can be incredibly taxing. In this paper, I reflect on teaching introduction to biological anthropology at a large university and incorporating old academic literature as a teaching document. By utilizing old biological anthropology literautre and encouraing students to post related articles allowed for class discussion to critically analyze the material. By fostering a dialogue between the student and the professor in this setting, it brought upon a more nuanced and meaningful way to tackle fake news in the era of fake news.