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Grading Policy

Page history last edited by Derek Weber 12 years, 3 months ago

There will be three non-cumulative examinations, each constituting 150 points for a total of 450. The remaining points in the course are earned by completion of homework, chapter level assignments, maintanence of a student blog, in class participation and completion of lab assignments.  The following information offers detailed information about each of the graded items.



There is a homework assignment for each chapter.  These homework assignments will be delivered through the Connect Plus portal hosted by McGraw-Hill.  On this page, you will find a list of assignments and any information associated with these assignments (like first date available and due date).  Each assignment will be worth 20 points.  Late assignments WILL NOT accepted.  It is your responsibility to keep tract of all important dates in the class.


Student Blog

You have each started a blog this semester for the course on blogger.com.   For each chapter, you will maintain a biology blog.  In the first section of this blog, you will write a reflective summary.  This entry should provide insights on what you learned in the chapter.   The goal of each entry is to summarize the information covered in class in one or two paragraphs.  If you found one topic particularly difficult, please include it in your summary.  The second section of this blog will include (at minimum) two items (useful websites, videos/animations, online exercises, student designed PowerPoint presentations and slide shows) related to the chapter.  If you listed a topic of particular difficulty in section one, you may want to find helpful information about that topic and post it on your blog.  The idea is if you were having trouble with a specific topic chances are your classmates are also having trouble.  In addition to the two items from the list above, you should also include a peer reviewed journal article related to the chapter topic.  Please use the PubMed database offered through the RVCC library for assistance in finding an article.  The goal is not to read and summarize the entire article.  The idea to is demonstrate how some of the core topics learned in a first year biology course are studied.  Please write in your own words a summary of the abstract.  If you are able to access and read the article, feel free to summarize that also.  


Here are some entries that I thought were well done.  (Note: Last year we used pbworks to host our blogs.  This year we are using blogger to share with a wider audience).

1.  Marvi's blog: Chapter 14 

2.  Nicoloe's blog: Chapter 15 

3.  Marvi's blog: Chapter 16


Make sure to highlight the journal. newspaper, or website that you used in this reference.  It is important as you move forward in not only your education, but your daily life, that you use reliable resources for any scientific information.  I will not accept Wikipedia articles this semester.    


Your active participation in managing your page is worth 10 points/chapter with the two lowest scores being dropped.  You will be graded on the following criteria:

1.  Participation:  Have you posted an update for each chapter?

 2.  Relevance/Reliability of Content:  The content shared on each page will be graded on how related it is to the topic at hand and how reliable the source is.  This requires that you read and view any material before you share it with the class. 

3.  Depth of your daily summary:  Have you reflected on the chapter?  Have you accurately summarized the material?  Have you written your entry in your own words?  This is your blog and this exercise is to make sure you reflect on your experience.  If I find a common theme among the blogs, I may be able to address misconceptions before the exam.

4.  Ability to follow directions:  Students will also be graded on their organization and their ability to follow the supplied directions.  Please describe in a paragraph the material that you have shared and how it relates to what we have learned in class.  A one sentence description is not enough!!!  Also, make sure the page is organized and easy to read.  This will impact your fellow student's ability to use your page.  Here is the scoring breakdown for the grading of each chapter-level blog.


Points Section I. Daily logs Points
Section II. Resources
5 The blog entries are written clearly and concisely with a logical progression of ideas and supporting information. 


The entries give the reader a clear sense of the main idea of the daily lecture.

The student actively participated, posting three relevant resources following the proper directions.  Each resource is well summarized and the poster is clearly knowledgeable about the posted resource.  Main ideas are explained in a clear and concise manner in each summary and the page is well organized.
3.5 The blog entries are written

with a logical progression of ideas and supporting information.


The entries gives the audience a  sense of the main idea of the daily lecture.

The poster is comfortable with each resource.  Main ideas are explained adequately in each summary.  The materials was adequately organized.

The blog entries are vague in conveying a point of view and does not create a strong sense of purpose.


Includes some persuasive information with few facts from the daily lecture.


Some of the information may not seem to fit.

The poster is unable to adequately explain the main idea of each resource.   The organization of the page makes it difficult to read and makes it difficult and comprehend.
1 The student missed one or more entries.



1 The student did not post the required number of items.
0 The student did not post any entries for the chapter. 0 The student did not participate in posting any resources.


Section I postings will be graded on Friday and Monday afternoons.  For example, Wednesday class postings will be graded on the following Friday afternoon.  Friday class postings will be graded on the following Monday afternoon.  For example, your post on class from Wednesday 9/8 will be checked and graded on Friday afternoon on 9/10.  The best way to approach this project is to update your page the day of the lecture so it is fresh in your mind.  Use you notes to assist in the process.  If you wait a few days to update the page, you may struggle to recall the class.  Your summer assignment will be the first graded project.


Based on the current lecture schedule, Section II updates are due by 9AM on the following dates:


Chapter Blog Due Date
Chapters 2
Monday 9/13
Chapter 3
Monday 9/20
Chapter 4
Monday 9/27
Chapter 5
Monday 10/4
Chapter 6
Monday 10/18
Chapter 7
Monday 10/25
Chapter 8
Monday 11/1
Chapter 9
Monday 11/15
Chapter 11 Monday 11/22
Chapter 12 Monday 12/6
Chapter 13 Monday 12/13



We will have three lecture exams this semester.  Each exam will be worth 150 points.  The final exam WILL NOT be cumulative.  These 60 minute exams will contain multiple choice, true false, matching, short and long essay questions.  They may also include take home portions as well.  Please come prepared with a #2 pencil for the Scantron portion of the exam.


Make-up exams will only be permitted under special circumstances, such as illness, death in the family, or holy observance.  You must inform the instructor BEFORE the exam of any absence to be eligible to make up the exam.  There is only one excused make-up exam per term.  Official documents like a doctor's note are required to be excused from an exam.  If you are late to the exam, you may not take the exam if someone has finished and left the room, no exceptions.


Laboratory Participation

Lab is an integral part of any science class.  The most difficult part of teaching any lab is to generate student involvement.  Many students approach lab like a baker.  You follow the recipe and generate a product at the end.  This creates a false sense of what experimental science is all about.  I want each student to be invested in each lab we carry out.  This is why you are going to assist in writing the course lab manual. 


Each student or pairs of students will have the lab manual delivered electronically.  Each exercise has a basic outline of the exercise, including some experiments.  Your job is to fill in the details:

1.  Introduction For every exercise, you will be required to write up an introduction to the experiment BEFORE the start of lab.  I have provided some tips on what to include in your summary, including room for insertion of images and details figure legends.  The goal is to provide context to each student about the importance of that lab's topic.  Here is an example.

2.  Hypothesis and Experimental Design:  For many exercises, you will be required to design an experiment to address a particular observation or scenario.  I have provided a list of materials that will be available for your experiment.  This should also be completed BEFORE the start of lab.  Here is an example.

3.  Procedure and Results:   We will document the entire lab with photo and video.  You can use the iTouch or bring in your own.

a.  Procedure:  You will take video of your experiment step by step, including narration of what you are doing and why.  For example if you are adding phenol red to a tube, the narration should be as follows,"We are adding 20 milliliters of the pH indicator phenol red in order to determine if the peas produced acid as a function of carbohydrate catabolism."  This short statement let's the audience know what you are doing an why.  These video may potentially serve as "how-to videos" for future classes.

b.  Results:  This can be documented either using images with written description or narrated video.  Make sure to be thorough in explaining what happened during the course of the experiment.  Don't just say the result was positive or negative.  "The test tube changed from aqua blue to orange after five minutes in boiling water" along withan image of the tube is powerful for the reader; positive or negative is not.

c.  Conclusions:  This part of the experiment is often overlooked.  Again, positive or negative is not a conclusion.  Explain your results from a theoretical standpoint.  If your tube turned orange, why?  "Substance A contained simple sugars which reacted with the Bendict's reagent.  I belive substance A is xxxx based on this result since xxxx is known to be high in simple sugars."  Did the result support or reject your hypothesis?  This all should be included in your conclusions.


Sharing scientific data is done a variety of ways (journals, posters, presentations).  I think it is important to get practice presenting your work.  Therefore we will use audio and video to present our findings.  You will need at minimum a microphone for your computer.  You can also use a webcam.  This presentation will be broken down into five sections:

  1. Introduction:  Give a short introduction to the experiment.  It should follow your written introduction to provide the audience a sense of why you are doing what you are doing.  Provide the audience a sense of why this is important.
  2. Hypothesis and Procedure:  What results do you expect and why?  What steps did you follow to test your hypothesis?  This is where you can include your narrated video of your procedure or narrate over it yourself.  You can also use still images of the expoeriment and explain what is happening in the photo.
  3. Results and Conclusions:  Please review the conclusion section above.  Using images or video, explain what is happening and why.  
These videos can be recorded using a screen capturing program called screencast-o-matic.  This free, web-based program allows the user to record their screen and associated audio.  Therefore, it only requires a microphone.  These videos can be embedded directly into your lab page for sharing.  I strongly recommend using Prezi for your presentations.  This free, web-based program handles multimedia much more efficiently than PowerPoint and allows the user to take the audience on a path they see fit.  This is a sample Prezi from last semester (scroll to the bottom).  You can see the ability to zoom in and out makes it quite a powerful presentation tool.
Here are some good examples of lab presentations from last semester:
Each lab is worth 30 points

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