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Since CU is a fairly large research university, many introductory classes are offered in lectures of 200 or more students. This semester, I am taking Intro to Archaeology with about 250 other kids... so the lecture is pretty intense! To compensate, the class is broken down into several recitations, which are once-a-week classes led by a Teaching Assistant (usually a graduate student) that are capped at 25 kids. This gives each student an opportunity to review material covered in lecture.
This week, my recitation got to learn about ancient hominins and their tool using habits by creating stone tools of our own! It's a process called flintknapping that requires hitting rocks with other rocks at certain angles in order to create crude tools, like hand axes or knives. Sounds pretty archaic, right? Well, you'd actually be suprised at how difficult flintknapping can be!
It was a pretty awesome recitation session. We set up a blanket outside on a beautiful Colorado afternoon and listened to our TA review what we'd been going over in lecture. He demonstrated different flintknapping techniques, which were all really helpful in better understanding the material. We went through each type of tool and its characteristic markings, which tool was made by which hominin, and then got to practice making the tools ourselves. It definitely reinforced some of the things we learned in class, providing a hands-on opoprtunity to learn the material instead of just taking notes and studying them.
Being in giant lecture hall with a few hundred other kids can be daunting-- and talking to the professor in these situations can be intimidating! Fortunately, the recitation component of many of CU's large lectures really aids in understanding the material and is an easy way to ensure your success in the class! It makes a big community feel a little bit smaller, and getting to know your TA can become a great resource for letters of reccomendation for future internships or grad school. So, remember, if you're in a big lecture your first year at CU, don't be intimidated! You'll have plenty of resources to help you succeed, and the classes will offer different learning styles to make certain that you are understanding the material!