Florida: Teaching Animal Behavior

By | 2014/03/06

I was notified today that a course proposal I put in with the Lifelong Learning Academy is approved for the summer term. Course topic: animal behavior. I’ll be doing this as a seven-session course, taking an early morning slot. Hopefully the course will make.

I will be bringing in some bits of the behavior and psychophysics work I’ve had a hand in, and see about making the links between how behavior research relates to what you see in common Florida wildlife species and even domesticated pets. A major conceptual idea to go throughout is the difference between the “folk psychology” that gets served up in many media presentations of animal behavior and what actually counts as science, following that thread in the ethology coursework I took from Prof. Jane Packard at Texas A&M University. Dr. Packard has been very helpful; I contacted her last year about the course proposal here, and she made some outstanding suggestions.

The Lifelong Learning Academy’s demographic is an older population segment, mostly retirees. I was asked whether I had teaching experience with a class comprised mostly of people older than myself, and I had to say no. But the curriculum committee seems pretty enthusiastic about having this course to offer, and wanted to reassure me that even if it doesn’t make for summer session (when a lot of the students are up north), they would like to offer it for fall and winter terms.

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