Thursday, 23 February 2017

Teaching geoarchaeology and sediment micromorphology

Today I am doing three hours of teaching for PG students on soil. This follows two hours yesterday of teaching 3rd year students sediment micromorphology. My 3rd year Geoarchaeology module is challenging this year, as the class is 75% geography students, so I have had to modify the content a bit to make sure we go over the archaeological concepts. Having non archaeologists in the audience makes you really just how jargon filled the subject is! At the moment the module is set up so that the practical classes are about 25% bulk soil analysis and 75% thin section analysis, but I am tempted to switch this next year and focus on the bulk sediments. As much as I love micromorphology, it is a very challenging subject to teach as it is so time intensive, and I think it would work better as a stand alone module. This will give the students more time to work on materials, and to focus the seminars specifically on micromorphology. At the moment the Geoarchaeology module seminars are focused on broader theoretical topics. This way I can also expand the content and look at different geographic environments rather than just the basic descriptive criteria, and include more detail on complementary methods such as FTIR. If I get the time I would really like to turn this into a 'flipped classroom' approach, and record short videos for students to watch prior to the practical classes. The more time we get to spend actually looking at stuff down the microscope, the better! As a longer term plan it would be great to develop a module like this as a CPD training course, and spread the micromorphology love. I might put together a survey and see how much interest there would be in something like this?


  1. Interesting! I am preparing a week-long introductionary hands-on course on archaeological soil micromorphology. I will give this course for the first time (first week of april; already fully booked). I find the biggest challenge to provide to the participants a basis to work from without drowning them in information and terminology. I can't teach everything I know...

    1. yes, there is definitely the terminology problem! And how to get people to focus on the one thing you are working on, without getting overwhelmed by all the other things going on in the same slide.