hisbaan noorani
Dec 20, 2021

ANT193 - Stone Tools

Stone tools are the earliest and longest-lasting record of human technology, and ANT193 is a great way to experience them. The course covers research in the field of anthropology, focusing on early stone tool creation and use. The course also offers the opportunity to improve your academic writing skills through a project proposal. I took this course during the winter 2021 semester, so the information in this article is subject to change.

Dr. Hillary DukeWinter 2021

General Information

I loved taking this course. It was a good 'escape' from the world of computer science, and it allowed me to sit back and enjoy reading a paper or having a discussion with my peers. When I took this course, the university was closed to in-person learning, so my lectures occurred synchronously over Zoom. This was handled quite well, and I don't feel that online learning increased the course load for ANT193 as it does for many other courses. I was a bit sad that I couldn't take this course in person, as Dr. Duke had planned to teach us how to make our very own stone tools! I would have loved to do that, but the Pandemic prevented us from doing fun things like that...

I would classify the course load for this course to be very light. As long as you stay on top of the assignments and don't try and do them all last-minute, you will be fine. The professor is also very lenient with extensions, should you need such accommodations, as long as you come to her in advance of the deadline.

Teaching Staff

Dr. Hillary Duke is one of the nicest and most understanding professors I have had during my time at the University of Toronto. I distinctly remember Dr. Duke asking us to flex our empathy muscles during this unprecedented time (during the COVID-19 Pandemic).


The assignments for this course included some required readings, a "Coping with Technologies" media assignment, a group presentation on a paper about digital methods in stone tools research, three reading responses, and a research proposal which was split into an outline section, a peer feedback section and a final submission.

Required Readings

While these readings are interesting, you can get away with reading just the abstract or skimming, as these are mostly all research papers. However, if you choose this route, be prepared for awkward silences as Dr. Duke asks questions about the readings that few people can answer.

Reading responses

Remember those non-essential, required readings? Well, some of them are actually essential. You will have to sign up to submit a reading response for one of the papers in that week's readings for three different weeks. I recommend getting this done early in the semester when the work hasn't really picked up yet. Your goal with these responses is to answer some pre-determined questions that Dr. Duke will provide you with about that week's reading. Be prepared to discuss your reading in class, as Dr. Duke will likely call on you to summarize or discuss your chosen reading. Each response is worth 5% for a total of 15%.

Coping With Technologies

This assignment can be completed through various media. You can decide to make a video, a poster, a series of pictures, a diagram, a song, or whatever your heart desires. I decided to do a poster, as that seemed the easiest for me. The point of the assignment is to talk about non-electronic technologies (e.g. crafts, baking, exercise equipment, etc.) that we use to help cope with stress in our lives. If you put even a little bit of effort into it, this assignment amounts to little more than writing about your day. The assignment is worth 15%.

Digital Methods in Stone Tools Research

This presentation is an easy one as long as you follow the guidelines set by Dr. Duke. For me, the one downside of this assignment was working with a group. Most of my group members were good; however, one didn't do any work until 5 (five) minutes before our presentation. Thankfully, Dr. Duke understands that situations like this arise and told us to continue our presentation as usual, and if the offending member did not pull their weight, only their mark would be affected. The presentation is on a paper assigned to your group. Mine was about how researchers used three-dimensional scanning technology to analyze fracture patterns in stone tools. The assignment also consisted of answering some written questions (one per group member) about the paper. The presentation and write-up is worth 20%.

Research Proposal

The research proposal is the main assignment for this course, and it is weighted as such. It is broken up into three sections.

The first is an outline. This is a bullet-point-style where you outline your research proposal. The idea behind this is to force you to actually think about what you're going to write the proposal about before the deadline, so you can understand if something does not lack enough depth or is too ambitious to complete in time. I wrote my proposal about the sharing of stone-tool creation knowledge between Capuchin monkeys, which proved to be just the right amount of complexity for this proposal. This part of the assignment is worth 15%.

The second is a peer-review where you are anonymously assigned a fellow student's work to review conceptually but not grammatically. You are being marked for thoughtful contribution and kindness, so don't be mean... The peer feedback you receive will prove valuable for you in the final part of this assignment, but if you do not have someone 'nice' reviewing your work, or someone who did not put much effort into it, do not fret. Dr. Duke also reads all of the outlines and offers feedback of her own, which you should follow if you want a good mark. This part of the assignment is worth 10%.

The third and final part of the assignment is the final solution. All you are doing for this part is compiling your bullet-point outline into a more formal, APA formatted research proposal. Ensure that you at least take a look at the peer-review and incorporate suggestions from Dr. Duke. This part of the assignment is worth 25%.


Overall, I would rate this course on the easier side of all the courses I have taken so far. The course load was light, and the actual assignments were either very subjective or practically completion marks. As long as you put in a bit of effort, you will be rewarded with a good mark.

Parting Words

This is a course that I loved taking; it was an excellent course. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to take it in person, as I would have gotten to make basic stone tools!! But alas, t'was not to be. This is an excellent course if you are looking for an easy breadth requirement and are struggling to find something. Do keep in mind that you can only take this course in your first year as it is a seminar course, so make sure to prioritize it over other courses like HPS110!

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