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ANTHRO-101 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology - Laurie Rodriguez

Course:Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Professor:Laurie Rodriguez
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 5 Week
  • 8 Week


Anthropology is a broad field exploring all factors that help us understand this unusual bipedal, tool-creating, socially-complex primate we call "humans".

This course focuses specifically on the various physical and biological aspects of human evolution, including exploring our place in the primate continuum, the evolution of early humans, the review of physical, behavioral and cultural traits from an adaptive perspective, and understand the basis and significance of human variation across environments.

Upon completion of this course, a student should be capable of the following:

  1. Explain the process and forces of evolution.
  2. Describe the basic principles of Mendelian Genetics and understand its relationship with evolution.
  3. Understand the implications of the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis.
  4. Describe the key characteristics of Primates and understand how humans fit into that group.
  5. Understand the early evolution of humans, including key trait changes in our divergence from our modern primate relatives.
  6. Understand the physical changes in hominid evolution.
  7. Understand the cultural changes that occurred in hominid evolution.
  8. Explain the interrelationship between the changes in physical and cultural traits.
  9. Describe social systems as adaptive behaviors.
  10. Explain sexual and reproductive behaviors as evolutionary strategies.

Course Description

During the five/eight weeks of this course (depending upon which format you choose, we will cover a broad range of topics that encompasses today’s field of Physical Anthropology.  The intent and goal of this course is two-fold:  At the end of the course, you should have (1) a competent understanding of the foundational concepts of Physical Anthropology, including the forces and processes of evolution, genetics, cellular biology, and hominid evolution and (2) an exposure to many of the sub-fields that make up the field of Physical Anthropology.  This course is designed to offer you new perspectives into what it really means to be human and perhaps inspire you to pursue other classes in Anthropology.

What to Expect in this Course

There are many advantages to taking an online course for students with demanding schedules, but it is imperative that you understand before the class begins what will be required of you in order to do well in this class.  Please note the following:

  • This course will be conducted 100% online.  There will be no face-to-face component required or offered.
  • This is a short-term course, meaning that instead of the customary 16 week semester, the course length has been reduced to 5 weeks or 8 weeks (depending upon the format you choose).
  • The amount of material covered in this  course is IDENTICAL to the amount covered in a 16-week traditional course.  That means you will be covering two-to-three times as much material each week.
  • The amount of time you should expect to dedicate to this class/week will vary according to your individual abilities (such as reading comprehension skills and comfort with technology) but on average, you should expect to invest about 15-18 hours per week to successfully complete this course (depending upon whether you are taking a 5- or an 8-week course).  This time will be distributed across reading assignments, online activities, taking part in discussion groups, submitting homework, and taking quizzes and tests.  
  • In order to pass this course, you will need to complete all assignments (including exams) thoroughly and accurately and submit them to me before their deadline.

Students who stay organized and maintain communications with me throughout the course are more likely to be successful in this class.  Start asking questions!

If you are a student with special needs and require additional assistance for this course specific to your circumstances, please contact The Learning Center (TLC).   Click the link provided or call them at 661-362-3351.  They also have offices at both the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses.

Types of Assessments

This course uses a variety of assessments to help you process the concepts covered in this course. Students will create a personal course blog and submit about half of their assignments there. This allows for greater creativity and expression, as well as interaction and discussion between students and with their instructor. Other assessments include more traditional assignment submissions, a weekly quiz, and a final exam.

Textbook Information

Material Requirements (Non-negotiable)

You must have the following materials and equipment available to you no later than the first day of class.  You will not be able to take part in this class without them in your possession.  This is non-negotiable.  If you cannot meet these requirements, please do not register for this class.

  • Textbook:  Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Edition 15;  R. Jurmain, L. Kilgore, W. Trevathan, with R. Ciochon; Thomson Learning, Inc., Belmont, CA; 2017.  Student edition ISBN-13:  9781337099820.  Currently $166.72 for new, but also available used or for rent from the COC bookstore.  You have other options, so shop early and consider used, rental or e-versions.  This can be purchased in the COC bookstore or online.   You MUST have this book in your possession by the first day of class.
  •  HARDWARE:  You must have daily access to a PC or laptop (not just a phone) equipped with reliable online access.  Do not rely on the COC computer labs.   
  •  EMAIL:  You must have and use your Canyons email address.  This will be a key form of contact and you should get used to checking it daily, especially the week before class starts.
  • INTERNET BROWSERS:  I strongly encourage my students to use the browsers Firefox or Google Chrome (both available free online) which have had fewer complications with the websites you will be accessing in this class (I’m not familiar with Navigator).  I do not recommend using Internet Explorer.  If you do choose to use Internet Explorer and experience problems, please try the other browsers before contacting me for help.

Other Relevant Course Information

I strongly recommend that you practice logging onto Canvas the week prior to the start of class, to make sure all problems are addressed before the first day.  This is especially important if you have never taken an online class before.

To be successful with online learning, students need to be self-motivated and organized to stay on track with course assignments, readings and activities.

Understand that the instructor is always available for questions and support, but it is your responsibility to reach out for help.  You are *not expected* to be able to learn this this material on your own.  You are supposed to ask questions and contact the instructor to help you with the material. 

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 09/13/2022 Sub#: 798