Teaching methodology


The combination of academic research and empirical practice forms a versatile professional who can better comprehend complex exploration concepts and understand various student needs. My pedagogical training is diverse and has been developed within and outside of the university system. I have more than 20 years of experience in fieldwork projects working with and teaching students of different levels. In addition, the background of different universities provides me with a rich set of methodologies to use, while referring to personal experience as a student. My research and teaching are inspired by a solid theoretic framework and interdisciplinary approach, both in terms of subjects and analysis, with a special focus on the archaeological perspectives and methods.

  • Teaching philosophy and characteristics

    My teaching philosophy is guided by experiential and multidisciplinary approaches and learning through the analysis of the best practices, within a solid theoretic framework. Anthropology and Archaeology courses foster students' critical consciousness, achieved through creative and interactive activities in and out of the classroom. Within the course structure, I want students to approach with critical thinking all the intellectual work distinctive of the profession (research, evaluation, reasoning, interpretation and dissemination).

    I believe that students represent the real quality of a modern university and the future of our discipline, and I want them to become well acquainted with the best practices since their early years at university. Ability to manage different types of evidence, attention for details, understanding general trends and significant variances, are some of the skills and attitudes I consider important for student success in my discipline.

    I emphasize the importance of learning through active interaction. In addition to the classic memorization and repetition, students develop their skills best by practicing what they have learned: as Einstein once said, “learning is experiencing, everything else is just information.” My students are required to work with the ideas provided by the course, by reasoning about them, making connections and integrating them into broader fields of knowledge. This can be achieved, at least at MA and doctoral level, by inviting students to bring their previous experience into the course discussion and integrating of their research projects within the course activities.

    I give great importance to open discussion during each class time, in order to enable students on active involvement and interaction. These and other strategies guarantee the engagement of the students at any level and facilitate the development of critical thinking while enforcing the affinity with the discipline and the students' habit to deal with the sources and data - the typical activity of professional practice in the Humanities.

    I consider the opportunity to mentor students and young scholars at any level as a crucial part for improvement. Giving the opportunity to talk with the teacher in a safe environment, makes easier for students to clarify their muddiest-points in the course, but also to support them with their researches and projects. I supervised theses at the undergraduate and graduate level at the Universities of Rome, Turin and Naples; and I was the opponent for a PhD dissertation at the University of Uppsala. At the same time, I continue to mentor my past students from Italy and the US.

  • Practical teaching experience and development of teaching

    My pedagogical training is varied and has been developed within and outside the University system. My teaching experience at different universities gives me a rich set of methodologies to use, but I also refer to my personal experience as a student. Besides, during the past years I had two major teaching experiences: 

    • as a project manager for the outreach and public engagement activities for a national volunteering association (the Gruppo Archeologico Romano), including an International Summer School, and
    • as the director of a Civic Virtual Archaeological Museum in Mazzano Romano (RM, Italy), with school programs and activities offered to the citizens.
      In Mazzano I also had the chance to cooperate with the Väinö Tanner Foundation and the Finnish artists it hosts. In the last shared project (October 2017), with visual artists, Eija Hirvonen and Jari Haavikko, 3D printed copies of archaeological artifacts were put together with photographs and contemporary artworks.

    Study Abroad Program of Architecture in Italy

    In addition to the pedagogical training, I have taught in academia since 2013 and have been able to acquire versatile experience in university-level teaching. In the past years I lectured at undergraduate and graduate level on several different topics related to ancient Europe and the Mediterranean at the Universities of Rome, Siena and Turin, and at the Italian School of Archaeology at Athens (thanks to a Fellowship of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei). In 2013-2014, I was appointed Post-doctoral Teaching Fellow at the Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology (University at Buffalo - SUNY), an institution shared by Classics, Anthropology and Visual Studies departments. There I taught advanced topics related to anthropology and archaeology, having a course and workshops for undergraduate and graduate level. In this environment, I became familiar with new teaching strategies and a system that encourages students to develop their own perspectives.
    Since 2014 I have been a Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo - SUNY and since 2016 I teach Etruscan and Pre-Roman archaeology at the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, as an adjunct professor.

    I have experience in teaching students from different linguistic, cultural and academic backgrounds with diverse learning styles and skills. I have taught basic, intermediate, advanced and graduate-level courses in English and Italian, in my country (Italy), Greece and the US. I have experiences with classes of different sizes, ranging from a few to 60 students, and using versatile teaching methods (e.g. lectures, workshops, seminars, virtual learning environments, site adoption and dissemination) and by optimizing the didactic exchange and personal enhancement. Furthermore, I have experience in diverse teaching activities and responsibilities: I have designed courses and exams of different types; I am able to manage conferences, lectures and events; and I have organizational and interpersonal skills, ability to multitask, effective training and to manage human resources.

    I would like to continue developing my teaching skills, with practice and updated refresher courses. I am constantly working on improving certain aspects of my teaching such as paying more attention to an in-depth focus on topics and further discussion rather than providing students with a large quantity of information.

    Since computer technology and digital humanities play a congruous part in my teaching activities, I would also like to implement e-learning methodologies more widely. I have participated in workshops organized by the Teaching and Learning Services of the University at Buffalo and by the Tools of Engagement Project by SUNY to expand my knowledge and find new ways of teaching.

  • Maintenance of teaching competence

    I cultivate and renew my teaching methods in several ways, for example by taking refresher or pedagogical courses, or with fruitful exchanges of personal experience with my colleagues. Furthermore, I take in great consideration the students’ evaluations and feedback in order to change my approaches to teaching and make it more effective. I keep myself updated about current methodologies and tools for the teachers taking advantage of university services and using online resources, such as specialised websites, magazines and blogs (e.g edutopia.org, TeachingChannel.org and ISTE.org).

  • Vision for the development of teaching

    At the current stage of my career, my research and teaching interests include several fields within anthropology and archaeology: European and Mediterranean Prehistory (Bronze Age, Iron Age, Proto-Archaic/Orientalising), cultural interactions and commercial networks, social boundaries, cultural conceptions of personhood, burial customs and gender studies, the interaction between humans and their environment, the urbanization process, material culture. 

    Few of potential course/seminars topics that I would like to offer:

    • "The Archaeology of Inequalities", a course devoted to the survey of the different sociological approaches and methods to address inequality and their specific application in the archaeological past, showing how pervasive and various were the boundaries in ancient communities.
    • "The (In)Visibility of the Ancient Demography", a seminar to outline a model of demographic trends in Antiquity, that for me has a special interest in the identification and quantification of subordinate social classes. 
    • "The Image and the City", about the possible relationship between the appearance of human representation in painted pottery and the definition of the city as a particular social institution and policy. 
    • “Island Religiosity and Cultural Connectivity”, a comparative study between the sanctuaries of Cyprus and Rhodes, as these islands show a peculiar mix of different cultural and ethnic components, with intense exchange and ‘ethnic polytheisms’ (G. Fowden). 
    • “The ‘Ownership’ of the Past”, a discourse of the different uses made of the concept of “past”, and their socio-historical justifications, in ancient and modern societies, from Herodotus to the Fascism.
    • "The Mediterranean, a Sea of People and Networks”, a course about the Mediterranean environment and its consequences on human interactions, but also the different types of connectivity and cultural contact acting in Mediterranean history, with a particular focus on moving and mixing of ethnic groups. 

    My contribution as a teacher could add a historical perspective and give practical examples about how education had contributed to human development in different places and periods of history, in moments of "relative" globalisation, or with the discovery of new technologies and the development in their use.

  • Feedback on teaching

    I regularly interact with students and collect their feedback at the end of my courses. I usually ask which parts of the program they have considered most interesting and formative, but also I try to get fresh comments about the used methods and what could be improved in the course. Usually, my students acknowledge the benefits of the inclusive and interactional environment I set during the lessons, and they appreciate the interdisciplinary of the topic I choose as well as the side activities. Before designing a new course I review past feedback and make adjustments and developments to gain better results. 

    To give an idea of the reactions to my teaching I attach at the end of the document the statistical analysis of the grades I received in Buffalo for my course (mean grade 4.55 out of 5) and for me as a teacher (4.62 out of 5), that are very good when compared to the rest of the Department and University. I also report here a selection of student feedback:

    “Orlando is an amazing professor. He is clear and explains concepts well, and throws a little humor in there! His knowledge of inequality in archaeology is top-notch.”

    “Instructor introduced new lines of evidence for discussing inequality in archaeology, and did an excellent job of building a firm theoretical foundation from the ground up.”

    “The group projects helped to reaffirm what was being taught, as well as opening up multiple avenues of discourse and analysis.”

    “The group presentations were helpful and Professor Cerasuolo's power points were very well organized. He did a tremendous job of distilling the information in a coherent manner on the slides, which he organized well on UBLearns.”

    “Instructor did very well, lots of preparation went into the presentation and preparation of materials to be made available to students.”

    “Very strong reading selections, well-organized coursework, and diligent discussion sparked through student presentations.”

    “Orlando was extremely helpful in providing feedback on paper and presentation materials and was always available when needed.”

    “The material taught in this course has aided me greatly in conceptual archaeology, and has provided a great basis to move onto more advanced courses.”

    “Orlando was an incredible professor, and he provided an enormous amount of insight into understanding and researching inequality in a past context. He is an exceptional teacher.”

    “I wish he could stay as a permanent faculty member. His advice both in the seminar, paper, and with outside research has been incredibly helpful to me. I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Archaeological Fieldwork Planning Game

I designed this table game that is intended to help archaeologists to define: scope, partners, organization, activities and schedule for designing and carrying on field projects, from planning to dissemination.

It can be printed and used freely, in a professional context and in university classes. 

Please let me know your experience with it and make suggestions on how to improve it. Thanks!

I got the inspiration for this table game from the famous urban planning “Participation Game” (link) developed by the City of Helsinki.

"Orlando was extremely helpful in providing feedback on paper and presentation materials and was always available when needed."

Student (University at Buffalo SUNY)

“Orlando is an amazing professor. He is clear and explains concepts well, and throws a little humor in there! His knowledge of inequality in archaeology is top-notch.”

Student (University at Buffalo SUNY)

“Orlando was an incredible professor, and he provided an enormous amount of insight into understanding and researching inequality in a past context. He is an exceptional teacher.”

Student (University at Buffalo SUNY)

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