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Grading Criteria
General Biology II
(As taught by Dr. Jan A. Nilsson.)



To reduce the length of this page it contains "overlib links" for comments and additional information in boxes hidden until you move your mouse over the link. You open the link by moving your mouse over the link, and closing it by removing the mouse. It is possible to read the page without reading the "overlib links", but the links may clarify things. To separate the "overlib links" from regular links the text in an "overlib link" is colored blue, and has a small colorful arrow in front of it. Regular links, which takes you to another page, are NOT blue.

xx Here is the first "overlib link". Try it! x

Page Content

-- This is an online class.
-- Letter Grades
-- List of Assignments Overview
-- Detailed List of Assignments

This is an online class.

Khan Academy: The future of education? With the backing of Gates and Google, Khan Academy and its free online educational videos are moving into the classroom and across the world. Their goal: to revolutionize how we teach and learn. Sanjay Gupta reports. (URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kh60v5PxMk)


Source: http://www.dll.org/HBCUs/DistanceLearning_Feb2007/2_DefinitionsAndMethods.asp

x This document is the Grading Criteria, the standards used for how and what you will be graded for in this class. It is part of the Syllabus. Read this page with care. It is a rather long reading, but that is because care has been taken to attempt to help you understand the class requirements. Students who know and understand the grading criteria usually do better in college classes. Serve yourself a big cup of strong coffee and start reading! x

Look at the Grade Recorder before you look at this page?

x The Grade Recorder is a less detailed list of the class assignments. You might want to look at the Grade Recorder first, especially if you are a student who wish to have a "Big Picture" of the class first -- and then come back again here and continue to read. Another method that migh work after looking at the Grade Recorder -- experience the class layout first by navigating around, before you come back here (or not). In the Grade Recorder you find an easy overview of all assignments. If you print out the Grade Recorder you can fill in due dates (obtained from the Semester Calendar) and the assignment grades earned as you progress through the semester. I recommend that you print the Grade Recorder. (Click on the button below to navigate to the Grade Recorder.)


x A word of caution: When surfing the web you will leave the web pages for this class. You might end up on a web page for a college class in a different part of the world. Sometimes I have had students in this class asking to submit assignments they have found on web pages in Europe or Asia. One time I had a student asking how she could make a snowman without any snow in the Rio Grande Valley. The student had navigated to a web page in Alaska and thought making a snowman was and assignment project in this class. (This is a true story, apparently it was an art class -- this is a biology class...) Unless you see an assignment to make a snowman listed -- below -- on this page, it is not a required assignment for this class.

Go to this page when you are not sure what to do. This page lists ALL assignments, and if you want a 100 you must do them ALL, if you are satisfied with letter grade C you must EARN minimum 70...

Letter Grades:

You x EARN your grade in this class (the instructor does NOT give grades). You collect as many points as you feel is necessary to EARN the letter grade you desire (see below). As per the main document of the Syllabus, there are normally no make-ups. You miss an assignment -- you do not collect the points. If you wish to EARN the letter grade C you must collect a minimum of 70 points (70 percent). Highest possible point is 100 (100 percent) -- which is letter grade A.

A: 90 (90%) -- 100 points

B: 80 (80%) -- 89.9 points

C: 70 (70%) -- 79.9 points

D: 60 (60%) -- 69.9 points

F: 0 -- 59.9 points

List of Assignments Overview:

Category I: Syllabus / Class Introduction (7p)
Category II: Reading Quizzes (30p)
Category III: Lab / Virtual Classroom Activities (14p)
Category IV: Semester Project (10p)
Category V: Memorization Quizzes (15p)
Category VI: General Class Discussions (10p)
Category VII: Endterm Final Exam (10p)
Category VIII: Learning Self Assesment (5p)

Detailed List of Assignments (100p): xx NOTE

Since this is an online class, you do the assignments at your own speed and at your own time -- within certain calendar dates. Most assignments opens near the beginning of the semester and are due at the end of the semester. Some assignments must be done in a certain order -- the prerequisites are listed for each assignment below. The first assignment, after opening up the class with the Student Contract Quiz, is either the Introduction Post or the Start Quiz.

x Again, For a less detailed list of assignments see the list above or the Grade Recorder, which I recommend you print, so that you can fill in the assignment due dates using the Semester Calendar.

xSelective Release Criteria x What is Selective Release Criteria? (GREEN COLOR).

List of assignments that will EARN you a grade in this class:

Category I x: Syllabus /Class Introduction (5p)

The purpose of the assignments in this category is to help the students familiarize themselves with the set-up of the class and of the instructor's educational philosophy behind it all. Other instructors might have something similar and often call it a "Syllabus Quiz"...

Student Contract Quiz (minimum grade 100 required for participation in the class.)

Before you will be able to start submitting class assignments you must acknowledge that you have read the syllabus information. You do so by answering the Blackboard "Student Contract Quiz" (also sometimes called the "Syllabus Acknowledgment Quiz") on or before the due date listed in the Semester Calendar. If you have not yet submitted the Student Contract Quiz you must log in to Blackboard and do so. The quiz is located on the Designated Homepage.

x Student Contract Note

The purpose of this quiz is to open up the class, and to inform the instructor that you intend to be a student in the class.

Prerequisite: Must be registered for the class.


Introduction Post (Post a message in the "Introduction" string (from Spring 2016, in the Class help desk) and introduce youself to the class. Minimum 50 words for points -- spell checked!) The purpose of this assignment is to learn to know each other, but also to make sure that students familiarize themselves with Blackboard Plaza where most assignments in class will be submitted.

Prerequisite: Student Contract Quiz -- minimum grade 100.


Start Quiz (multiple attempts quiz, minimum grade 90 required for points and participation in the class.)
The purpose of this quiz is to help the students to learn how the class is set up / organized, to help students familiarize themselves with the class and important locations in Dr. Nilsson's CyberClassroom. You will not have access to any other quizzes in class (and most other assignments) until you have submitted the Start Quiz with minimum 90... Notice the deadline in the Semester Calendar! If this assignment is not submitted (on time), the instructor will conclude that the student does not wish to continue to be a student in class. The instructor will remove the student from the class roster, but it is the student's responsibility to officially (with STC) drop the class... Because of Blackboard problems the quiz has been relocated to the Designated Home page.

Prerequisite: Student Contract Quiz -- minimum grade 100..


Class Discussion Key Quiz (multiple attempts quiz, minimum grade 100 required for points and participation in the General Class Discussion.) Blackboard Quiz located on Blackboard Plaza. Nothing to study, just start the quiz and follow the instructions. 100 required for points and participation for a grade in the General Class Discussion/Reflection. During the longer and fall and spring semesters there is another discussion assignment called Town Hall Meeting. During the shorter summer semester this assignm,ewnt is merged with the General Class Discussions. However, the reading assignment for the Town Hall meeting should still be read, and can be reached HERE. (Click on the link for suggested reading.) The purpose of this assignment is to make sure that the students understand the nature of the online class discussions. Again the link to the quiz is located on Blackboard Plaza.

Prerequisite: Start Quiz -- minimum grade 90.

Password required. x


There is no make-up for a missed introduction category assignment.

Category II x: 15 Reading Quizzes Blackboard Open Book repetition quizzes (multiple attempts), based on Textbook Reading, use of the Internet, and/or repeating the quizzes as a learning method. (30p).

Prerequisite: (For Reading Quiz 01) Start Quiz (for all other Reading Quizzes the previous Reading Quiz with minimum 90).


For points, and to access "the next quiz in sequence", the EARNED grade must be minimum 90 (unlimited 4-hour attempts allowed until the score 90 is EARNED). This will EARN you 17 percent of the total Biology grade. Note that if you attempt ALL 15 quizzes until you EARN 100, the earned grade for the assignment will be 20 percent. (Suggestion: First attempt all quizzes to EARN 90 [and 17 percent] -- to move on to the NEXT Reading Quiz, then later during the semester [if there is time] you can return to retake the quizzes and EARN 100 [and 20 percent].)

xxClarification Note

Selective release criteria reminder. xRead this note!

xI didn't get the required minimum grade 90. What do I do now?

Password required. x

x When you have completed this category you can fill in the points in the Grade Recorder: Bu_SyllGraRec_Blu300_yeltxt

Note: Reading Quiz 5 is a prerequisite for several class assignments (Reading Quiz 06, Memorization Quiz 01, Virtual Online Lab Review I, Town Hall Meeting, Semester Project Final project, Endterm (Final) Exam, Learning Self-Assessment.) If a student has not submitted Reading Quiz 5 with minimum 90 percent by the date noted in the Semester Calendar (secondary deadline), such student is not participating in class as can be expected, and such student will be removed from the class roster (near the last day to drop the course). (Since quizzes must be submitted in sequence this means that you also must have passed quizzes 1-4.)

Category III x: Virtual Labs ( 14p.)

Virtual Lab Lab Practicum I Reviews (Tissues/Bones i and ii), Lab Practicum I, Lab Practicum II Reviews (Organism Identification i, ii and iii), and Lab Practicum II)


Do NOT rush through the reviews -- you have unlimited attempts to earn the required grade. They will not earn you any grade points, but they will help you study/drill the material you will be tested on in the lab practicum, and they are both required to have access to the "real test", the lab practicum. You must pass both reviews with the required minimum grade. However, it is recommended that you do additional study/drilling before attempting the lab practicum. You have only one attempt for Lab Practicum I. If you attempt the lab practicum to quickly, before you really know the material -- and "bum" the test -- there is no second attempt.

Prerequisite for the first review I: Reading Quiz 05 -- minimum 90.

1. Lab Practicum I -- Tissues/Bones. Submitted as Blackboard assessment (quiz) . Only one (1) attempt allowed. (8 percent)

Prerequisite for Lab Practicum I: Lab Practicum I Review Tissues/Bones ii (100)

Prerequisite for the first review II: lab Practicum I.

2. Lab Practicum II -- Organism Identification. Submitted as Blackboard assessment (quiz) . Only one (1) attempt allowed. (8 percent)

Prerequisite for Lab Practicum II: Lab Practicum II Review Organism Identification iii (100)

Password required for the virtual lab quizzes. x This is not a link, see the Virtual Lab instructions on Blackboard for the password.

There is no make-up for a missed online lab.

Category IV x: Semester Project ( 10p.)

--- Project Selection (Topic) 2pPrerequisite: Start Quiz -- minimum grade 90.
Project Submission (Final Product) 8pPrerequisite: Reading Quiz 05 -- minimum grade 90.

The Semester Project is an independent project, which the students must do on their own without any help from the instructor. On purpose it has been set up with very few requirements, to allow students to use their own ideas. See below for the short instructions. While paying attention to deadlines in the Semester Calendar when SUBMITTING the project, there is nothing that prevents students from DOING the project as early as the first week of the semester.

The Semester Project Final Report is due near the end of the semester. However, you must earlier in the semester submit a "project selection" -- you must post which you intend to do, and a short description . You submit the "Project Selection" at the same location on Blackboard Plaza where you later will submit the final completed project -- in a folder conveniently called SEMESTER PROJECT. The Project selection is open from the first day of the semester -- provided the prerequisites have been submitted. The Project Final Product folder opens later during the semester -- provided the prerequisites have been submitted. (See the Semester Calendar for dates. )

NOTE: Student not submitting a Project Selection can still submit the Project Final Product. Student submitting a Project Selection, but then later change project, will not earn the Project Selection points. Students submitting a Project Selection, but later does not submit the Project Final Product will NOT earn the two Project Selection grade points.

x Select one (1) lab project from the two available for a grade this semester:

x Environmental Detective

For this project you must go out in the (hopefully) fresh air, use your eyes, nose and other senses, and look for things in your neighborhood that concerns you. You are supposed to spot things that are WRONG / BAD. If you spot things that are good for the environment that is fine too, but it does not qualify for the project. Your final project is a minimum 300 ESSAY, including a description of the problem, your experience how you feel about the problem, and minimum 8 photos (with a caption for each photo what it is and where you snapped each picture).

The project must be posted DIRECTLY into the Blackboard bulletin board NOT a PowerPoint or Keynote or whatever presentation attachment. If you don't know how to post pictures and text into a Blackboard bulletin board -- it will also be part of the project to learn how to do that. Help may be found in the class help desk. You do exactly the same thing as you would do if you post figures into your created class discussion posts -- NO PRESENTATION TOOL/SOFTWARE IS NEEDED. There may be incompatibility and/or virus problems with attachmements, so attached projects will NOT be opened by the instructor -- thereby not earning you any grade points.

x Wildlife Refuge Visit

For this project you must go out in the (hopefully) fresh air, use your eyes, nose and other senses, and look and enjoy the nature in a wildlife refuge. Maybe a picnic for your family or friends with nature and educational values? Your final project is a minimum 300 words slide ESSAY , including a description of the wildlife refuge, your experience, and minimum 8 photos (with a caption for each photo what it is and where you snapped each picture).

The project must be posted DIRECTLY into the Blackboard bulletin board NOT a PowerPoint or Keynote or whatever presentation attachment. If you don't know how to post pictures and text into a Blackboard bulletin board -- it will also be part of the project to learn how to do that. Help may be found in the class help desk. You do exactly the same thing as you would do if you post figures into your created class discussion posts -- NO PRESENTATION TOOL/SOFTWARE IS NEEDED. There may be incompatibility and/or virus problems with attachmements, so attached projects will NOT be opened by the instructor -- thereby not earning you any grade points.

Clarification for students working in groups (the instructions were modified for this semester and became perhaps a bit too short): You may work in small groups, 2-4 students maximum, but all group members must submit their own Project Selection and Project Final Submission. If your name is not in the submission bulletin board when the grades are tallied (and it will not be there if you don't submit your own), your grade will be zero. Your submission may be the same -- since you cooperated -- but to avoid plagiarism you must name all group members (max 4 including yourself), first in the Project Selection, and then in the introduction part of the Final Submission.

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SUGGESTION: The instructor has done his best (in between semesters) to remove any text about a third project no longer available called the "dog walk". If you find anything giving the impression that the "dog walk" is still an assignment, the instructor would appreciate a note about it in the class help desk, so it can be removed. However, if you are concerned about Animal Mistreatment, you could do the "Environmental Detective" Project on that topic. However, be careful so you don't end up in a conflict with the animal "owner"...

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Puppy found on street
11 July, 2004
Hungry, full of Mange
Friendly, liked to talk
Run-away or abandoned?

There is no make-up for a missed Project.

Category V x: Memorization Quizzes ( 14p.)

Prerequisite: (For the first Memorization Quiz) Reading Quiz 05.

Memorization Quizzes -- brain exercise quizzes -- are multiple attempt quizzes submitted on and graded by Blackboard, see "My Grades". For points to be EARNED, and to progress to the next memorization quiz, the grade must be 100 (all answers must be correct). There is only ONE attempt for the Memorization Quiz Final.

Variable number of Blackboard repetition quizzes, which in the "face-to-face class" is taken in the classroom to demonstrate successful memorization of terms and names to assist the student understanding of certain biological concepts. In the online class, since this is done on blackboard the regular handouts may not be useful to you (it depends perhaps on your study technique?) -- but are provided on the same page where the quiz information and the answer keys are located. The Blackboard quizzes for the online students are in the Memorization Quizzes folder for the online class. For online students the quizzes can be taken anytime throughout the semester, at your convenience, before the due date. Memorization Quiz 1 must be submitted with a passing grade before Memorization Quiz 2 will be available. All Memorization Quizzes (except Memorization Quiz Final) must be passed with 100.

Before you can attempt Memorization Quiz 1 (Biological Organization) you must have earned a minimum 90 on Chapter Quiz 5. You should also note that each memorization quiz has a "strongly recommended" Reading Quiz.  You must first master the material in your textbook which corresponds to the chapter where you also will learn about the figures you are to memorize.  Make sense, I am sure!   Also, a successful memorization is when everything has been committed to memory -- 100 percent memorized -- all or nothing -- including correct spelling. (If less it is not really "memorized", is it?).      


One or more memorization quizzes may be included on the final exam. (Both online class and face-to-face class.)

xPassword required for the Memorization Quizzes x



There is no make-up for a missed Memorization Quiz.

Category VI x: Genaral Class Discussions Intellectual discussion/debate with Blackboard Bulletin Board (BB) postings ( 10p ).

Prerequisite: Class Discussion "Key" Quiz (min. 100).

One discussion topics deal with evolution. For some students the topic of "evolution" is a sensitive one. However, you are welcome to defend your opinion about evolution in these class discussions, and you are welcome to have any opinion you like. But this is a BIOLOGY class, and you must therefore learn about evolution - whether you like it or not -- and that is what these discussions are about.

"Also, the dedicated pursuit of scientific knowledge deserves our respect, and we should never be close-minded or dismissive of scientific claims if ever they seem to threaten our understanding of God's revelation to us." (Bishop Raymundo Pena)

If you don't understand the explanation of the grading criteria given below for this assignment (which is rather long), just participate with a post in each bulletin board every other day or so, until the last day of the discussions -- and you will have participated with more than the minimum required... The instructor hopes that you will enjoy these discussions and not limit your participation to just four "I want to get this over with" visits... Participate, participate participate ...

In this class there is no requirement that you must do all assignments, but if you don't the grade EARNED will obviously be lower. To be fair to hard working students, and not allow "less than hard working" students to get an undeserved grade, there are certain minimum requirements that must be met in order to EARN a grade in a class discussion. When you read the instructions you will notice that the instructions for the General Class Discussions and the Town Hall Meeting are almost the same with only a few differences.

GENERAL. There will be four (4) discussion bulletin boards -- and two sessions. Bulletin board topics 1-3 are part of the 1st session. Bulletin board topic 4 is part of the 2nd session. (For topics, scroll down, and see the semester calendar for dates.) Each bulletin board topic is worth 2 grade points.

PREREQUISITE. The CLASS DISCUSSION KEY QUIZ is required for participation in the discussions. If you miss the deadline for the Class Discussion "Key" Quiz, then you cannot participate during the first session. Don't miss the deadline. A second window of opportunity will open up just before the second discussion sessions starts (see the semester calendar). If you submit the quiz by the date for the second window of opportunity, you may participate in the second session only, and you will NOT earn grade points for the quiz, since it is overdue.

MINIMUM PARTICIPATION. You must participate, with MINIMUM 4 postings in each topic to receive credit. Many students who are interested in the topics do much more than 4 posts in each topic, but the line must be drawn somewhere -- and the line is drawn at minimum 4 posts in each topic to EARN credit. (If you do not post a minimum 4 messages in the bulletin board -- your EARNED grade for that bulletin board topic will be a ZERO.)

CREATED MESSAGE. At least ONE message in each topic (bulletin board) must be a CREATED message minimum 100 words (i.e., a string YOU have started and named so participants will recognize it -- and please show some fantasy [creativity] when you name it). This created post MUST be posted during the FIRST week of that session (to give other participants time to reply to your created post). (If you do not post a minimum 100 word in your own created string -- your EARNED grade for that bulletin board topic will be a ZERO.)

REPLIES. At least TWO messages in each topic must be a REPLY to other students' messages. Furthermore, when a topic is graded AT LEAST one reply must be in the string created by YOU -- the person that started the string, and that reply must be done during the SECOND half of that session. In other words, you must INTERACT -- "talk" -- with other students in the discussion bulletin board about the topic, just as you would if the discussion was in a classroom, or if you were discussing something with family and friends at home. A DISCUSSION is COMMUNICATING something back and forth -- replying -- which means NOT ignoring what other people say... There is no minimum number of words required for a reply, but you must reply -- you cannot just "talk to yourself" and ignore what other students are saying....

TIMING. A problem with these Blackboard discussions is that students don't participate throughout the assignment period. Besides posting the minimum numbers of posts required, the postings must be done in a timely manner. It is very important that as many students as possible participate from the beginning of the discussions -- otherwise it will be hard for the hard working students participating as intended to complete the assignment. At least ONE posting must be done in ALL bulletin board topics during the FIRST week of the discussion period. (In the Face-to-Face class a day during the first week will be assigned for the mandatorey posts, but in the online class minimum 1 post in each and all bulletin boards must be done during thge first week). (See the semester calendar for the exact dates.) As explained above (see REPLY) if you only post one message during the first week, it must be the minimum 100 word requirement, to give other participants time to read it and reply before the end of the session. The minimum required reply you must do in your own string must be posted during the second week of that session -- to give other students time to read your created message. If no one has replied to your string -- it happens, so don't worry about that (it may or may not indicate that what you said did not interest anyone) -- then you may "talk to yourself" and post a message the last day of the session...

ANTI-CRAMMING RULE. At least ONE posting must be done in EACH and ALL bulletin board topics during the FIRST part of the discussion as explained above, and at least ONE posting must be done in EACH and ALL bulletin board topics during the SECOND part of the discussion. (You cannot post early and then disappear from the discussion, and you cannot wait until the last day -- if you do your EARNED grade for that bulletin board topic will be a ZERO even if you have fulfilled the other minimum requirements. For example, if you post all required messages -- 4 messages, one 100 words, the first day -- and then disappear, your grade for that bulletin board will be a ZERO.) (This rule does NOT apply to the second session, since the second session is a bit different than the first session...)

SPELLING. Lastly, ALL messages must be spell checked. PAY ATTENTION TO LANGUAGE QUALITY WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR MESSAGES. We all do spelling mistakes, but if it is clear -- as subjectively determined by the instructor -- that you have not used a spell-checker before you posted a message, then your EARNED grade for that message will be a ZERO. For grading purposes it is NOT possible to EDIT a posted message, but if you discover after posting that you rushed (did NOT pay attention) and forgot to spell check, if no one has replied to the message you may post a new message INCLUDING the words SPELLING CORRECTED in the subject. You can only do so with ONE message, and if someone has already replied to your message that clearly has not been spell-checked -- then it is too late for a spelling correction. Also, if you keep posting messages that has not been spell-checked, corrections will not help your grade. Repeated posting of messages that has not been spell-checked is SLOPPY and will EARN you the grade ZERO in that bulletin board. Again, "minor slips" (typos?) will be overlooked -- unless you keep making these sloppy "minor slips" in all your messages. At some point even "minor slips" will indicate sloppiness and may cost you the grade points for that bulletin board topic...

GRADES WILL NOT BE POSTED. The assignment is an "all or nothing" assignment, and all participants know how to count to 4... If you post the minimum according to the instructions above in each and all bulletin board, you will EARN 2p for each bulletin board and the grade 100. If you don't post the required minimum number of posts -- including sloppy spelling, your grade will be a ZERO.

No need for posting of grades since every student know (or at least SHOULD know) what he/she has posted, when he/she posted, and if he/she spell-checked.

For those who are new to Blackboard -- the instructor does NOT count your posts, BLACKBOARD does. If BLACKBOARD statistics show that you did NOT post 4 messages, then you did NOT post 4 messages. Both the instructor and the student can check how many post have been done by using Blackboard tools. Do this if you are not sure how much you have posted, or post 5 or 6 or more, to be on the safe side... If there is not 4 messages in a bulletin board when it has closed, then you did NOT post 4 and the grade earned in that bulletin board is a ZERO...

There will be NO PARTIAL CREDIT . If you don't intend to post minimum 4 messages in EACH topic, then don't participate at all. Spend your time doing other class assignments. However, remember that the General Class Discussions are 8 percent of your grade. It is an EASY assignment to earn 100 -- don't throw it away...

Go HERE for the reading assignments.


Topic 1: Animal Mistreatment Discussion

Topic 2: Climate Change Discussion

Topic 3: Human Population Discussion

Topic 4: Evolution Discussion

There is no make-up for a missed General Class Discussion.


x Sensitive about EVOLUTION? Read on -- and view the YouTube video with the "Science Guy" Bill Nye...

Unfortunately, every semester one or two religious students are offended by what is said in the evolution related discussions. The topics about evolution are NOT about God, but about the change life has gone though on Earth over time -- EVOLUTION. It is, however, hard to avoid not mentioning God, and it is impossible not to mention religion. Why? Because scientists are forced to defend QUALITY BIOLOGY EDUCATION -- which includes evolution -- against ignorant and reactionary forces that are trying to remove the teaching of evolution from the curriculum, or changing textbooks to include "creation" in biology/science classes. It therefore MUST be discussed. Since STC is a public college, and this is a biology class -- it WILL be discussed. However, if you are sensitive just avoid certain discussion strings if you notice that it is going in a direction you don't like. If you participate further in such a discussion string and therefore will be offended by what is said -- it is SELF-INFLICTED since you could have left that particular string if you didn't like it.

All kids in the U.S.A. loves the "Science Guy", right? At least up till now, that is...? But now, in an attempt to stand up for quality science, he has come out with a statement that will probably have many religious parents preventing their kids from continuing to watch him on TV...? Don't agree with him? Then let's debate!!!

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gHbYJfwFgOU

-- Transcript of the Bill Nye YouTube above:
Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we're the world's most advanced technological -- I mean, you could say Japan -- but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that's largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You're just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, "When you're in love you want to tell the world." So, once in a while I get people that really -- or that claim -- they don't believe in evolution. And my response generally is "Well, why not? Really, why not?" Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.

And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can -- we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

It's just really hard a thing, it's really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd

All reading assignments have cartoons, so also the reading assignments for the Town Hall Meeting. These cartons are posted as SATIRE, not sarcasm. Humor is a very effective educational tool. Before you get upset at a cartoon poking fun of RELIGION, pay attention and note that half of them are cartoons making fun of EVOLUTION posted by religious groups. BOTH sides have the right to use SATIRE to promote their message. This is the United States, not a Taliban country -- where you can get the death-penalty if you create cartoons on a certain topic...

If what is said is making you upset and if you have posted the required minimum for a bulletin board that upsets you, I recommend that you spend the rest of your time in other bulletin boards with a subject that will not upset you...

To avoid the discussion completely, for an alternative to the Town Hall meeting assignment see Addendum at the bottom of the page for a term paper alternative. The term paper topic is still the same -- EVOLUTION. And you can only replace the "discussion", you are still required to submit the Town Hall Key Quiz -- or accept a grade zero for the quiz. This is a biology class and evolution is an integral part of biology, but the discussion can be replaced by a term paper arguing for or against EVOLUTION. (Technically you will be doing exactly the same thing in the discussion, but if you are uncomfortable about arguing about your religion or about humankind's common ancestry with apes, you can select the alternative term paper instead. BUT UNDERSTAND THAT IT REQUIRES MUCH MORE WORK...)

There is no make-up for a missed Town Hall Discussion posting. As per the main body of the syllabus there are no make-ups. All assignments are due on or before the deadline. No exceptions for any reasons (including web sites being down, computer crashes or dogs eating your telephone modem). Post early and post throughout the session! "Cramming" at the end of the session will not be allowed. The "no make-ups policy" includes messages that have been posted in incorrect bulletin boards, and messages that are not spell checked. All messages must be spell checked with a computer spell checker -- don't trust your own eyes unless willing to take the point loss.

Complicated? Not really! But if you don't understand, just start posting -- and keep posting actively throughout the semester!

There is no make-up for a missed Town Hall Meeting.

Category VII x: Endterm (Final) Exam ( 10p.) Submitted as Blackboard assessments (quizzes) . Except for the first "key" quiz, only one (1) attempt allowed.

x Endterm (Final) Exam (Online; Open Book, Timed, and ONE (1) attempt). There are three parts: "Key" Quiz, Exam part 1 and Exam part 2. The "key" opens the exam. Part 1 (1 point) and Part 2 (9 points). The exam will be available in the Blackboard "Exam" folder as per Semester Calendar

Prerequisite: Reading Quiz 13c (min 100) and Online Lab Practicum II (min 0). (The prerequisites will be removed at the end of the semester, as per the semester calendar, for students who have not submitted these assignments -- at which point Reading Quiz 05 (min 90) will become the prerequisite instead.

Part Reading Quizzes 1-13c, the Memorization Quizzes, and a couple of questions may come from the Town Hall "Key" Quiz.


x The Endterm (Final) Exam can be taken as indicated in the semester calendar, as soon as you have submitted all Reading Quizzes and Virtual Labs, with the minimum grade required. The exam will open up at the end of the semester, as per the semester calendar, for students who have not submitted these assignments.

Respondus LockDown Browser Note: The Endterm (Final) Exam needs a password but Respondus LockDown Browser is not required this semester.

Password required. x

There is no make-up for a missed exam.

Category VIII x: Learning Self-Assessment ( 5 p.) Submitted in Blackboard bulletin board discussion folder

Prerequisite: See below.


To think about and analyze your learning attempts, to see if you have learned -- or not, is an important part in the learning process. Learning is NOT a spectator sport. It is important to talk about it, to write about it, and to relate to previous experiences, so that you can make learning an integral part of yourself. You will assess YOURSELF, not the class or the instructor. You will be graded on if you take your learning analysis seriously by thinking about what you have done this semester as per each aspect required.

If you are shy about doing this because other students can read the posting, keep it simple without going into personal details (like grades). Taking responsibility for your learning and discussing it with your peers is a good method to better yourself as a student. Remember to spell check the writing! (It is best if you write your assessment in a word processor. Then post it in the Learning Assessment folder on Blackboard Plaza.

The Learning Self-Assessment will open when the online Final Exam closes/have been submitted. All students must do the online Learning Self-Assessment, ON TIME, online in the correct bulletin board. Late Learning Self-Assessment will not be accepted because the bulletin board will be closed.

To do a learning analysis a certain minimum participation in class is required. The Learning Self-Assessment will be available at the end of the semester to student who has as a completed (i) the Endterm (final) exam, part 2, (ii) Reading Quiz 10, and (iii) Lab Practicum II -- review 1 (submitted with the minimum required grade). Also, if the following assignments have not been submitted with at least partial credit, 1p for each will be deducted from the Learning Self-Assessment grade: (i) Semester Project (Final Project), (ii) Town Hall Meeting

There is no make-up for a missed Learning Self-Assessment.


The grading criteria for a particular class may be changed due to unforeseen circumstances to meet the needs of a particular class. The instructor therefore reserves the right to alter (add, delete, or revise) any items of the above, online or via verbal instructions in class. The student is responsible for taking note of any such changes and acting accordingly.

The grading criteria for the class occasionally change from one semester to another. The online class documents are updated to reflect the current criteria. However, if a grading criterion discrepancy is present -- if by accident a grading criterion has not been updated on a class document -- the grading criterion posted on this page is the correct grading criterion. The student is responsible for reading this page and referring to it for the grading criteria for the current semester.

PLAGIARISM NOTE: Students copying other students work -- plagiarizing in ONE assignment is all that it takes -- WILL earn a ZERO on that assignment and MAY result in a ZERO on all assignments requiring submission in a bulletin board: Introduction Assignments Posts, General Class Discussions, Town Hall Meeting, Learning Self-Assessments, and other possible bulletin boards, and depending on severity may be reported to the college.

Addendum --- will not be discussed in class ---

Alternative to Evolution Blackboard Class Discussion:

There are normally no alternative assignments, but students who so wish can read the text below, and later ask for clarification if needed.

Due to some problems with sensitive religious students during previous semesters, a religious student may select to do a essay (term paper) option, replacing the Town Hall Discussions -- on the topic evolution. Students participating in the class discussion will automatically EARN an A on the assignment if posting the required minimum -- regardless of opinion religious/science opinion.

-- To be fair to students participating in the Class Discussions as intended -- including students who have a strong religious background but never-the-less accept that this is college and you must come to college with an open mind -- students selecting this alternative evolution option will not have an "easy way out" and there is by no means any guarantee that a students electing this alternative method will EARN an A on the essay. If the essay is not a serious, quality attempt the grade will be lower.

The instructor also like to remind students "prone" to making instruction delivery suggestions, with these words from Patrick Allitt, that:

I'm the Teacher, You're the Student

"The title refers to my belief that the teacher should take control in the classroom. The students come there not to be my friend but to learn history. I know it; they don't, so it's my responsibility to create conditions in which they can learn it. It is not a democratic or egalitarian situation. If they query my rules and regulations I sometimes say: "Ah well, I'm the teacher, you're the student, so you must put up with it." I've found that students are well-behaved and work hard if you make it clear to them right from the beginning that you have high expectations and high standards. They're very eager (at least here at Emory) to get good grades, and will strive to meet my expectations so long as I'm not unreasonable."

Patrick Allitt (Professor of U.S. History at Emory University) in: Rosen, Christine. 2004. I'm the Teacher, You're the Student. National Review Online. (http://www.nationalreview.com)
(Search URL: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ODVlMTllNDIwNjRhZjdkYTZkNjRiNDJjNTljOWE1ZDg=)

I also like to remind students who don't understand why they have to use computers and critical thinking (such as about evolution/religion) in this class that Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board requires that each higher education institution's core curriculum must be designed to satisfy a series of "basic intellectual competencies" - reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy. The Blackboard discussion part of this course is very important, and is designed to help students overcome fear of using computers and fear of speaking out (after using critical thinking).

Both the field of science and religion are integral parts of our society. Both are often interpreted as being in conflict with each other, and therefore seriously affect the world we live in, and one cannot select to ignore one and only pay attention to the other. Are they in conflict? As the instructor of the class I prefer that you remain a participant in the discussion and answer that question, and defend your faith -- if that is what you feel you must do. Or is your faith that weak so you think you cannot defend it against scientific arguments? You might realize after participating that this discussion is NOT about God. Perhaps you will come to the conclusion -- as many students have -- that the only thing you have to do instead of losing your faith, is to keep an open mind, learn and update your knowledge about the REAL world to the year 2009 (or whatever year it is when you read this). That is why you are here taking college classes -- to LEARN! Don't let your religion stop you from learning about new things in the exciting field of science/biology.

Here is a reminder about that:

"Also, the dedicated pursuit of scientific knowledge deserves our respect, and we should never be close-minded or dismissive of scientific claims if ever they seem to threaten our understanding of God's revelation to us." (Bishop Raymundo Pena)

However, if you don't want to participate in the Town Hall evolution class discussion, it can be replaced with a minimum 6,000 words essay based on a minimum of 20 DOCUMENTED ONLINE REFERENCES (sources). A minimum of 10 references must be on the topic evolution (not religion, faith, intelligent design, creationism, or creation science) from a SCIENCE source that is PRO evolution -- AND minimum 8 figures discussed in the essay, and a minimum of 10 references must be on the topics intelligent design, creationism, or creation science opposing evolution -- AND minimum 8 figures discussed in the essay. The essay must clearly be arguing for or against evolution and clear arguments must be presented using CRITICAL THINKING why the 10 science (evolution) sources selected are incorrect or correct, and the religious (creationism / intelligent design sources or whatever religious view you argue for) are a incorrect or correct description for how life began on Earth. In other words, as intended with the class discussions you must use critical thinking and show that you have been thinking about this enough to come up with an opinion.

The alternative assignment will, in other words, allow you to avoid hearing other people talk about the topic of evolution, but you must in this paper use critical thinking about it yourself using 10 sources from each side... STC is a public school, this is a BIOLOGY class, so unless the law will be changed there is no way of escaping the topic without also losing the grade points...

xx Read this note

ARRANGEMENTS for the alternative delivery method must be made with the instructor at the beginning of the semester, or no later than BEFORE the Town Hall discussion about evolution starts (See the Semester Calendar). Students who have not made such arrangements have the option to participate in the Town Hall Meeting as intended by the instructor or lose the grade points.

A near completion draft (see below) of the essay is due in two copies, one ONLINE, in a bulletin board that will be assigned, and one PRINTED COPY in a NEW HARD-BACK BINDER with 1/2 - 1 inch back purchased specially by the student for the essay, submitted to the instructors STC mailbox, or in class if the class have classroom meetings, by the MIDSESSION date of Town Hall Meeting for the students who participate in the Town Hall Meeting. (Printed copies from online students must be delivered to the STC mailbox and will NOT be accepted in the classroom for another class.)

If a draft was handed in, the final copy of the essay (online and printed copy) is due the last day of the Town Hall discussion -- by the ENDSESSION date.
(See Semester Calendar ). For record keeping the instructor will keep the essays, including the binder(s).

A final copy of the essay will NOT be accepted if a draft has not been submitted (on time)...

xx Near Completion Draft?

Again note the following: While students participating in the class discussion will automatically EARN an A on the assignment if posting the required minimum, there is by no means any guarantee that a students electing this alternative method will EARN an A on the essay (term paper). Grading an essay is SUBJECTIVE, and this instructor has always been a picky grader when grading essays (term papers). If the essay is not a serious, acceptable quality attempt -- clearly arguing for your opinion with the 20 ONLINE sources included (10 sources supporting your opinion -- e.g., a religious viewpoint, and 10 sources arguing another opinion -- e.g., a scientific viewpoint), the grade will be lower. If judged by the instructor to be a serious, acceptable quality attempt, the essay will EARN the student a replacement grade for the Town Hall Evolution Discussion (replacing the grade for this assignment). (It does not have to be an A attempt -- then you will earn a lower grade, but it must be a "serious, acceptable quality attempt".) A student PLAGIARIZING will EARN a zero on the assignments and will be blocked from continued participation in any class discussion -- including the Learning Self-Assessment at the end of the semester -- as a consequence for cheating. If a zero is recorded for these assignments due to plagiarism, the highest grade the student can earn in class is letter grade D.

Students participating in the Town Hall, as intended by the instructor, cannot EARN an intermediate grade -- will always earn a 100 if participating as intended. The Town Hall Evolution Discussion grade is an "all or nothing" -- 100 or 0 (zero). The grade based on PARTICIPATION, not on opinions given in the postings.

All students participating in the Town Hall discussions, according to instructions, ALWAYS earn 100 -- REGARDLESS OF OPINION.

If you don't like what you must do for the alternative method -- then participate in the discussion as intended by the instructor. There are no alternative methods for any other Blackboard discussions.

If there is a chance that you will decide not to participate in the evolution discussion and defend your viewpoint of the world (and therefore not read the reading assignment and the instructions for the assignment), I have posted two statements made by students who at first hesitated to participate. (These messages are also posted on the Evolution Hub Page.)

As I began with this course, I was not so sure if it was ok for me to be exposed to the theory of evolution. Being raised to only believe in the bible was something the caused such fear in me. I feared that I would be sinning if I began to believe in this theory.

I was scared that this idea would drive me away from God, yet, now I comprehend that the theory of evolution was not invented so that people could stray away from God's word but only to inform us, educating us about our origins and for a better understanding of our surroundings.

Evolution is defined as change over time and that is what it is. There is nothing wicked or evil about it. This course has not only helped me accept new ideas but has also educated me on this subject. I now know that there is nothing wrong with accepting the theory of evolution and that fearing this subject seems so ridiculous.

Sanjuanita Environmental Biology student, Spring 2009

How could I have been so blind all this time?

Why didn't my father, who has a degree in Biology and a Master's in Education, ever bother to teach me about the Theory of Evolution? What was he thinking he'd protect me from?

Why does the government continue to choose to leave it out of our curriculum? I can't exactly answer these questions, but I know that religion has had something to do with it. It is no wonder that our world is in much danger. We don't take the time to educate ourselves about the real world.

A quote from The Serve states, "But the message is that like an opium drug addict, religious believers are "blinded" by the "drug" and cannot deal with the real world." Disaster strikes and all we can do is sit back and pray? We need to take action. Part of taking action is educating ourselves on real-world issues and a real-world issue today is knowing where we actually come from...how we came to be.

Acquiring knowledge in Environmental Science is like acquiring knowledge in a bundle of topics such as nature, culture and technology. If it were not for these, we would not be able to prove our existence. It is up to us (this class and our generation) to teach our children everything that we have learned in this class and more. I have learned that it is ok to have religion a part of your life and accept Evolution. I have also accepted that the Adam and Eve story, the talking serpent, the forbidden fruit, etc., are not actual occurrences but symbols of religion.

Sure there are verses in the bible that can relate to real-life situations, but when it comes down to it, the bible is not a scientific textbook and it can only do so much for you, spiritually. Mentally, it takes an education to understand the REAL WORLD and everything that occurs in it.

I now accept Evolution and all it took was getting EDUCATED on the FACTS!

Vilma Environmental Biology student, Spring 2009.

Hope to see you in the discussion!

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