Student delves deeper into science through Independent Study

Poisonous snakes are capable of delivering some of the deadliest bites in the animal kingdom, but what exactly happens to a human's systems when different types of venom enter the body?

Junior Eloise Augustine of explored these changes as part of her Anatomy and Physiology Directed Independent Study (DIS) this spring, an experience she recommends to other students.

"I enjoyed biology last year and wanted a more in-depth study," she explained. "I'm considering a pre-med major and wanted to explore that interest more in anatomy and physiology."

In fact, this is the very reason DIS was started — to encourage students like Eloise to pursue an area of study in greater depth or breadth than the MHA required courses without the demands of a graded class.

"Think of classroom instruction like riding a bicycle with training wheels; or cooking under the close eye of an experienced chef; or learning to work with wood under a master craftsman. All these experiences are good and necessary, but they are not the goal," said Academic Dean Mr. Matt Beatty. "The goal is for our students to ride a bike, bake a cake, or make a table all on their own. DIS allows students to apply the tools of learning to a specific area of interest — this is the goal of their time at MHA."

During the semester-long program, students partner with a supervising teacher or MHA community member, who serves as a mentor to help the students formulate initial thoughts and guiding questions pertaining to their area of interest, build a body of resources, and develop the syllabus. They meet throughout the semester to discuss progress, and the student gives a final written and oral presentation.

"Undertaking and completing a DIS is a tremendous opportunity for MHA students to exercise their love of learning by exploring a topic that is not covered in the MHA curriculum. It's exciting to see their intellectual curiosity and academic maturity," Mr. Beatty said. "This experience often is a blessing not only to the student but also the supervising teacher and the Rhetoric School as a whole."