This tweet from the Chronicle of Higher Education hit me at just the right moment yesterday – I happened to be in the throes of revising the syllabus for my Insect Systematics and Evolution class. Wow, a peer-reviewed journal for syllabi! I revise my syllabus annually, based on feedback from my TA, the students, and whatever pedagogical tidbits I get from colleagues and the Web (blogs, journals, emails, whatever), but I have never actually had it properly peer-reviewed. Sounds like I have a new mission for 2013 – submit manuscript to Syllabus. In the meantime here is my list of tasks for this fall’s iteration of ENT 497B:
- check that I am in compliance with Penn State’s syllabus guidelines
- rethink the student insect collection (might scale it back a bit but require more data for each specimen – a quality over quantity approach)
- re-require multiple kinds of specimens preps
- add a peer review exercise (likely involving the collection)
- add time for cool stories (i.e., relevant references), provided by students; this was a fairly successful exercise in my insect morphology seminar at NC State
- migrate most of the discussion of taxa and diagnostic characters to the lab, so that students don’t get it 2x
- actually add a lecture or two about what “biodiversity” research is, so I can justify adding the word to the title(!)
What do you think makes for the perfect insect systematics class? Here’s the current version of my class and the version I taught last year (<= this link likely will be busted soon). What novel technology should be included? It’d be great to get some peer review before the peer review!
An 8th task, unrelated to the syllabus perhaps, is to make sure that I also do a lot of collecting, instead of bogging myself down with administrative duties. I thought of actually challenging the students to a duel – whose will be more accurate, larger, more diverse, neater, etc., mine or any of yours? Maybe this will be the year … There’d be a lot of trash-talking, I can assure you.