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The taphonomy project is a semester-long experiment the students design and run themselves, using the decomposition studies area run by the Criminal Justice department on campus. Following a discussion of taphonomic processes during the first week, the students come up with original questions to test. Working in pairs, they design the experiment, including methods, materials, sampling interval, and taphonomic evaluation. The students set up the experiment in week 3 and monitor it over the course of the semester. They will be required to keep an experimental journal, data from which they will upload to a wiki page. The students will be required to periodically evaluate and comment on other student's projects. The professor will also periodically evaluate the groups' progress periodically through the wiki. The end result is a 20-minute presentation in the style of an oral paper at a conference given the week before finals. This project develops the students' skills in experimental design, data analysis and written, oral and visual communication.
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