Exploring Introductions to Biological Anthropology Before College Using Textbook Content Analysis

Abby Hill

            I wanted to do this project for my Directed Applied Research because I had never even heard of anthropology before coming to college. I chose to do Anthropology 1101 to satisfy a core requirement and immediately fell in love with the discipline. I changed my major to anthropology in the same semester.

            Starting this project, I identified key concepts of biological anthropology and created three main categories: primatology, paleoanthropology, and microevolution. I created more subcategories for each larger category by further identifying specific themes and topics like primate adaptations, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and misconceptions. By using these, it allowed me to “code” and to analyze qualitative data. I gathered high school biology textbooks from the Teacher Resource and Activity Center in the education building. I only ended up getting five, but I transcribed each section (microevolution, primates, and human evolution) into an Excel spreadsheet. I also took pictures of each figure or diagram in the sections to compare information. Then I used NVivo software to code all of the text and to analyze the themes and concepts that were most commonly used.

Bar graph representing some of the primate species included in the textbooks.

            After doing this project, I found that neither Cobb County nor the Georgia Department of Education require schools to teach biological anthropology in high school. The concepts of microevolution, primatology, and paleoanthropology were available in the high school textbooks, but the primate and human evolution sections were not required to be taught. Four out of the five textbooks were co-authored by the same person which made the content and pictures similar, if not identical. Finding out that anthropology in general wasn’t taught at any level before collegiate, but psychology and sociology are, was a little frustrating because anthropology seems to not get enough attention as a social science. But I’m hopeful that as more disciplines emerge and gain popularity, it will raise more awareness for younger students looking for paths in life that may not be introduced in the public-school system.

Bones on the Road

Marcus Pettiford

For my practicum, I was given the opportunity to work with Dr. Gooding on public outreach and the expansion of Forensic Anthropology within community schools. My overall goal was to create a Forensic Anthropology Traveling Trunk designed to teach grades K-5. While the thought of this creation may have sounded it easy, it was rather challenging creating each activity based on the State of Georgia’s standards.  My goals were easily accomplished by working with teachers from different schools when it came to designing my Traveling Trunk. With the help of public educators, I wanted to create activities that would promote forensic anthropology but also in a fun way that students would be interested in participating.

Throughout the semester, I was also taking Lab in Forensic Anthropology which helped guided me when it came to preparing my activities.  My finished product was a mobile traveling case that public educators can use to teach students about Forensic Anthropology. The trunk consisted of four different activities, Sex estimation, Human vs. Animal Identification, Trauma Analysis, and Long Bones Identification. Lastly, if given the opportunity I would like to expand more on my research and see how other public educators and students across America enjoy the use of Traveling Trunks.