Dr. John Williams, of WCU’s Forensic Anthropology programs, will be presenting two Science of Teaching and Learning sessions at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences based on his bone trauma class, Anthropology 401. The first will be a presentation workshop on “Innovative Teaching with Active Learning Methods – Implementation in Forensic Science Education,” and the second will be an oral presentation in a section entitled “Forensic Education Matters.”

Dr. Williams has earned this great opportunity from the research he has gathered in his team-based directed classroom experiments in his bone trauma classes. Several years ago he became interested in active learning through bone trauma, specifically with bone fractures. Originally, these classes followed a straight lecture format, but Dr. Williams then developed an experiment involving deer bones that were used to demonstrate how various events, like fractures, could occur. With this came the want for specialized classes on bone trauma that other universities didn’t offer. From there, he decided to participate in the Coulter Faculty Commons annual Summer Institute of Teaching and Learning to further develop his practices.
Dr. Williams evolved the course from simple activity-based to project-based learning, and refined his experiments, giving the students structure, but also enough flexibility to work on their own. He discussed the great “Ah Ha” moments that students would achieve through the project, and how he wanted all the students to have that moment.  Several of the students went on to develop their own projects and attend NCUR as a result of the class.

Dr. John Williams is a board-certified forensic anthropologist and Professor of Anthropology at Western Carolina University. He is in his 38th year as a university professor and has taught a variety of courses in physical and forensic anthropology. This past year Dr. Williams joined the Council of Forensic Science Educators. His forensic research interest is in the interpretation of bone trauma. This led him to explore engaged learning as a method of improving student comprehension and involvement in the learning process. He is also a Diplomate-American Board of Forensic Anthropology, a Fellow of American Academy of Forensic Sciences.