University Subjects

ZOOL30006: Animal Behaviour

ZOOL30006: Animal Behaviour

University of Melbourne
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Subject Reviews


8 years ago

Unless you're extremely enthusiastic about zoology, do NOT do this subject. The content seems well-suited to a person who wants to take a casual elective on the side and learn a bit about why animals do the everyday things that make them so cute, but it's deceptively dry. Raoul, Theresa and Devi are all good lecturers, and the content itself is quite insightful and thought-provoking, and makes a reasonable amount of sense (though remembering and applying it under exam pressure is another question entirely). Mark and Theresa respond rapidly to student queries, and do attempt to communicate with the class. However, this is where the positives end. Mark is not a switched-on educator - this is not only my opinion, but that of literally everyone I've ever talked to during this subject, as well as people from the previous two cohorts. His expectations are unrealistic, his and Raoul's assessment design has lofty goals to assess students' in-depth understanding but falls critically short and connects badly with the course, Mark's responses to students imply that as a tenured researcher his ideas and decisions are better than that of students, who are simply lazy or don't appreciate the nature of how science works, and even Mark's own lectures leave something to be desired - he waxes lyrical about his own research and talks at the speed of peak hour Hoddle Street traffic. What makes it worse is that the staff are all clearly
Final" Exam"-60%
Lectopia Enabled
Yes, without screen capture. Previous years have used screen capture, but Mark Elgar dislikes it. To quote:
"I’m not a big fan of providing audio and visual notes of lectures to students, especially because it removes an important generic/life skill from attending lectures – the capacity to hear something, take notes and then be able to broadly understand and recall what was said. You don’t get these skills if we provide all of those resources." The fact that all I ever achieved attending his lectures was a 50-minute nap probably suggests that the 20 or so people who emailed him asking for recordings had a point. But audio is fine - you'll have access to the slides.
Mark Elgar, Raoul Mulder, Devi Stuart-Fox and Theresa Jones. Tim Jessop took one non-examinable lecture on hormones, but is leaving for Deakin after this semester.

Lecture Topics - they sound like more fun than they are
News & Views Article-25%

Past Exams Available
Yes, one. Answers are provided. This exam will terrify you. I recommend doing it just so you realise how appalling the final exam's format is.
Peer Reviews Of Draft N & V Article-3 X5=15%
2.5 out of 5. Points for legitimately interesting lecture content, good coordinator communication and real-world relevance. No points whatsoever for assessment or the ability of the coordinator to understand how to appropriately formulate a subject aimed at undergraduate students and not 50 year-old tenured professors. Seriously, Mark.
Textbook Recommendation
There's a recommended textbook, but nobody ever mentioned it. I think it'd be helpful in understanding the content, but since that's mostly irrelevant to the final exam anyway, you're crazy if you buy this for ZOOL30006.
3 x lectures/week (but only 30 total), 3 x review tutorials, 3 x N&V tutorials, 5 x multimedia presentations (these were documentaries simply played in the lecture theatre - they were absolutely useless in terms of the course, and the first one in particular was an outdated video pushing human superiority by repeatedly reminding us all animals do is respond complexly to environmental cues (which is literally the same for humans), though subsequent documentaries were quite interesting, if you really want to stay).
Your Mark / Grade
H1 (83) - I think there was gratuitous scaling involved here.

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9 years ago


  • Written work of up to 2000 words due during the semester (40%);

    So this was my favorite part of the subject. We got to choose a study and write a "News and Views" style write up. Which is like writing a magazine article aimed at scientists. The most interesting thing was that we had to first write a draft that would be submitted to a program named PRAZE so that our drafts could redistributed among the other students for review. Everyone had to review 3 other drafts and part of the mark we got for the assignment would come from other students rating how helpful our reviews were. Sounds complicated but the coordinators explain it quite well.

    We would submit a final draft sometime before the end of semester.

  • a 2-hour written examination in the examination period (60%).

    Was in a unique format. We were a paragraph or two and some figures that explain a study that was done, and we would get 2 - 3 questions related to the study. Eg. "What was the underlying mechanism that the researchers were tryng to study?" Or
    Please explain what is being shown in this figure". You were given 4 "questions", and in each question you could do one of two questions. So a better way to phrase it would be 4 sections with 2 questions and you only had to do 1 question from each section.

Animal behavior is a subject you can take as part of a number of majors. I took it so I could take Experimental Animal Behavior (ZOOL30006 was a pre-req for this), which is a prerequisite for the Zoology major. Hopefully I'll write a review about that if I remember.

Overall.. if you enjoy zoology and have paid attention in all of the animal related subjects you have taken, you might realise that a lot of the stuff they teach in this subject you have been taught before. Many of the lecturers in this subject have also been present in first and second year zoology related lectures and I felt like there was a lot of repetition. I didn't feel particularly challenged in this subject.

Lectopia Enabled
Raoul Mulder, Tim Jessop (maybe 1 lecture), Mark Elgar, Devi Stuart-Fox, Theresa Jones
Hope I didn't forget someone :')
Past Exams Available
One sample exam provided (with answers). Tutorials leading up to the end of semester going through exam style questions (with answers).
3.5 of 5

Wasn't a difficult subject.. would say that this subject would benefit from more indepth topics.
Textbook Recommendation
What's a textbook??

30 lectures during the semester; and 1 x one hour multimedia presentation per week

"Multimedia Presentation" - a video (David Attenborough Style). I never went to a single one of these tutes, attendance wasn't taken. Occasionally an actual tute (for instance covering the written assignment or the exam) was held in this timeslot, which I would go to.
Year & Semester Of Completion
Semester 1, 2014

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