Final Review

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  1. Through this course, I feel like I gained a lot of skills in statistics and writing about results and conclusions. Looking at where we started with our paper and where we ended up I can see how editing your research paper works. Before this class I had written research papers for biology lab, but those didn’t take as much planning. I really worked hard to find sources that explicitly support our data. I knew a little about statistics before, but going over the different types of t-test and software systems that can compute your data for you. Designing the poster was a lot of fun, and a good way to show results. For our audience, I think a poster is a better way to show your research by having people come up and talk to you and read the poster. Presentations can be boring!  
  2. The teaching experience gained is what I’m most proud of. My presentation skills were shaky at the start of the semester. I think practicing in class really helped me, but also I had a lot of support from my roommate, she listened through the presentations more than anyone else and also pumped me up for teaching. I think I feel a lot more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, and that I can actually convey information to others. The lecture from the school of education helped me plan out my powerpoint and really think about how the information is organized. I learned how to take cues from the powerpoint. I was most comfortable with the first carbon module because I felt the students were excited to be out at the RIce center. I think I did better teaching that presentation than the excel one, it was easier to manage the students at the Rice center and I felt more comfortable with that module. What I did well was plan my powerpoint and make sure it’s easy to follow. 
  3. My technique for learning the material was going through the powerpoint, drawing out the carbon cycle, and making my own powerpoint. I had learned the carbon cycle before in earth systems science, and had to know it for ecology, so I felt comfortable with it coming in. I just needed some details, but I felt like I had the big picture. I felt more comfortable with the information once I was tested on it. Practicing in class was crucial to develop my modules and I think was most effective. I was more nervous for the class presentations than the actual teaching. If I said something wrong in class, Eric and Siobhan would definitely catch me. If I said something wrong or messed up in front of high schoolers, I wouldn’t feel as embarrassed. Also, I think meeting with Eric before teaching was really helpful. I definitely needed that time to talk about what questions are important before teaching. 
  4. Critiquing the class is hard to do! I liked how small the class was. Everything was valuable. I actually feel proud of myself! This is a big step for me. My confidence at the start of the semester was like “Hey, maybe I can do this,” and now I feel like this experience was not as painful as I worried it would be, and it was actually a lot of fun! Something I especially liked was the blog. Duh. As you guys can see, I enjoy blogging. I think maybe we didn’t blog enough. But that’s just me. I like seeing all the news articles. If high school teachers don’t already use blogging (and not the “blogging” on Blackboard) they should! 
  5. How will you apply what you gained either in experience or knowledge after this class? Um, well I can apply my new found confidence to every aspect of my life (I’m just trying to be funny here). But really! Maybe I won’t second guess myself or think, “No, that makes me nervous.” I really stepped out of my comfort zone teaching and I liked it. I feel like now I’m not so scared to take on responsibilities, I can handle it. So, with respect to future jobs and grad school, I feel…capable. I can do this.
  6. What material had you learned during your time at VCU that was touched on in the capstone? Well, I had already covered the carbon cycle before this class, though my knowledge on it was shaky. And I had already learned C3, C4 and CAM photosynthesis in bio. I think that a lot of the things I learned in ecology about inland waters, wetlands, and the RCC really tied in nicely with this class.
  7. Reflection on blog The blog started out really great, and I had a lot of time for blogging, and as we got deeper and deeper into the semester I kind of spent less time on the blog. I wasn’t making many posts outside of what was required for class. But, the blog was helpful and I liked reading everyone’s post. Definitely keep the blog in! I think maybe, my only edit to the class, would be to add more posts where students can pick what they want to talk about (like our carbon in the news one). 
  8. Did the course change your perspective on carbon? Kind of! I knew about carbon emissions, smog, gross stuff coming out of your car exhaust, that sort of thing. But now this class makes me want to keep studying carbon. I want to look at carbon in soils! Any now when I’m walking down the street and see the leaves falling I don’t just think about how pretty it is, but I now think about what those leaves are doing to the environment. When you learn about something so detailed, like we did with carbon this semester, you look at things with a different perspective. I can’t look at my dinner without thinking sugars, carbon, digestions and biosynthesis, respiration…. but that’s fine! 

I chose the above Santa party photo because it’s almost Christmas and I thought it was funny. Enjoy! 

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One response to “Final Review”

  1. mckennast says :

    You’ve made some really interesting points in this blog. (When you said “We didn’t blog enough!” I actually laughed out loud just so you know.) I agree that this class definitely gave me more confidence to be able to do things outside of my comfort zone. I also agree that we learned very valuable lessons in the process of research. I think it would be awesome to look at carbon in soils! Soils are such an important part of life on Earth so, knowing all of its components and how it interacts with all of Earth’s cycles is necessary. I can’t wait to see the research you do in the future with soils. I am looking forward to seeing your name at the top of more posters and more research papers. I had a blast this semester and I am going to miss this class very much. I wish it was a yearlong class. The end of the semester came way too fast! I didn’t have time for proper goodbyes. There was no closure. I will forever be in a state of limbo about this class.

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