Ask a Professor with Heather Moulton

English and Literature Instructor

Heather Moulton

Question: What study tools or quirky habits did you use during your educational journey to becoming a professor that may help your current college students? – Cameryn Fossell, SMC

Answer: Great question, Cameryn! There were two study tools I used to survive college (and this was at all levels: community college, university, and grad school): note-taking and collaboration. Note-taking never felt like a chore for me. I loved being in school; sure, I hoped it would lead me to a career (it did!), but I wanted to learn; I wanted to excel. Note-taking in all my classes (from math to history to earth science to literature) helped me understand what I was being taught and engage in the material. My notes were great study guides, and I genuinely understood the information. Things I teach in my composition and literature classes can be traced back to what I learned and retained in college (I know that because I still have all my notes!). Secondly, collaboration: I survived and succeeded through study groups. Study groups are wonderful because they ease the stress of a class (or at least help distribute the stress more evenly). I made amazing friends in my study groups; we laughed and cried together and cheered each other on during midterms and finals. It was also refreshing to meet and hang out with people who were just as nerdy as I and who loved taking Shakespeare’s tragedies along with Tudor period literature along with advanced composition. My only quirky habit during college was sleeping – I could never pull all-nighters, so I’d be in bed by 10:00 while other people were up until 5:00 am. They called me quirky for that.

Question: I know you are an animal lover, and as someone who has just acquired two guinea pigs (Lisa and Maggie), what would you recommend as a good way to bond with them? – Roman Wheeler, SPC

Answer: I am an animal lover, and it’s so great that you have two new family members (and named after Simpson’s characters no less). I have owned a rat, a dwarf hamster, ferrets, and dogs, but I’ve never owned a guinea pig! Generally, bonding with any animal takes time – time spent playing and cuddling and interacting. Pets aren’t pieces of art to be admired behind a cage; they are fuzzy beings that crave attention just like people. Since I’m not a personal piggy owner, I consulted the “Happy Cavy Blog” (guinea pigs are in the cavy family: short-tailed or tailless South American rodents), and HappyCavy had some great advice: “Schedule floor time.” Guinea pigs need exercise and stimulation. It’s important to sit with your guinea pigs while they explore a safe area outside of a cage, complete with “food and hideys.” Allow the pigs to explore and get to know you. He recommends that you “sing or speak softly to your pig, feed it a few pieces of its favorite vegetable.” Engaging with the pig during floor time is a sure way to create a strong bond. HappyCavy gives lots of other great advice at his website: You can also watch live streaming of three darling, spoiled pigs named Feebee, Winnie, and Rosie.