Anthropology students of Dr. H. Lyn Miles participated in an exciting active learning exercise when they smashed a five-foot clay pot with a sledgehammer on Vine Street across from the UTC University Center. Students then used the anthropology methods they are learning to reconstruct the pots on the site, and they explored more about material culture—tools, vessels, baskets, and other artifacts developed by human societies.
Southeastern Salvage of Chattanooga donated two pots, valued at approximately $400, according to Miles.
“Students also demonstrated social bonding and identity, cave painting techniques used by both prehistoric Europeans and Australian aborigines today, face painting with tribal designs of red and yellow ochre, as well as chanting and drumming,” Miles said. “Students traced what anthropologists call ‘mimetic culture’ of ritual and imitation as it becomes ‘representational culture,’ based on language and symbols. This experience demonstrated for students how cultural rituals involving art, music and dance create the social clue of communities by establishing the identity and shared symbolic meanings of a society.”
Studies have shown that students may forget 90% of a lecture just a few days later, but retain more than 50% of learning when it occurs through their own experience. Active learning exercises are also effective in developing innovative insight and critical thinking—two traits the business community has been asking higher education to develop in college graduates, Miles said.
Anthropology active learning exercises are promoted by the UTC Walker Teaching Resource Center and help to create a “pedagogy of engagement.”
UTC is now officially recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as an “engaged metropolitan university,” and, in partnership with Southeastern Salvage, brought this active learning experience to the UTC campus, Miles said.