Grading and Course Policies
Grading - The grading scale for the course is as follows:
A+ 95-100 A 87-94 A- 85-86
There is no plan to fit grades to a particular distribution. The last time I taught this course the distribution was approximately normal, with a median grade of B, and a range of A+ to F.
Exams - There will be 3 in-course exams to be written during scheduled lecture periods, plus a cumulative final exam to be written during the final examination period. Each student's best two in-course exams will contribute 25% each to the final grade (i.e., you can screw up or choose not to write one of the in-course exams without penalty). The final exam will contribute 50% of the final grade. Each in-course exam will cover material presented since the previous in-course exam. The final exam will cover the entire course.
All exams will be multiple choice. The goal of the exams is to assess your knowledge and understanding of the material presented in lectures and covered in the text. Thus, your goal should be to learn the course material so you can choose correct answers on the exam, rather than spending time after the exam searching for material to try and justify incorrect answers. The correct answers on exams will be based on what has been presented in class and in the text, unless that information is clearly at odds with some other general and well-established body of science. As a general rule, course material takes precedence over other material.
When writing an exam you can ask for clarification of something as long as you ask an explicit question (i.e., engaging in discussions "fishing" for the answer will be discouraged).
Issues arising from an exam should be discussed with the Professor or TA within a week of the exam results being returned. However, questions about course material relevant to previous exam questions can be discussed at any time.
I will attempt to return your exam results in the lecture following each exam, with a discussion of the exam to take place during the lecture period in which the exam is returned.
There are no alternative ways to improve your grade (e.g., essays or research papers). Providing students who do poorly on the exams with alternatives would be unfair to those students who do well, and providing alternatives for approximately 200 students would be impractical.
Missed lectures - Because the exams will be based largely on material presented in lectures, you need to learn the lecture material. Lecture notes will not be posted on the web - only point form outlines of topics covered in lectures will be posted. If you miss a lecture by choice, it is your responsibility to figure out how to get notes for what you missed. If you miss a lecture for legitimate reasons (medical, family, etc.), you can arrange with the TA to get the notes for the missed lecture, but only if you provide a form excusing your absence signed by the Dean of Students. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from taking notes, you will still be expected to attend lectures and will receive notes only from lectures you have attended. Therefore it is important to make contact with the TA to explain the situation and to arrange for picking up the notes (generally available during the next lecture).
Clarification of lecture material - If something is unclear in a lecture, ask for clarification. If your question arises outside class, I will be happy to answer email questions, as long as they are specific. Vague or overly general questions that require extensive replies should be asked in person.
Honors Credit - If you want to receive honors credit for this course you have to write an essay on an animal behavior topic of your choice that is relevant to material covered in the course. The essay will be a review of at least three journal papers that address that topic. Start by finding a focal paper that interests you that was published prior to 2007. Then find at least one related paper published before the focal paper, and at least one published since. The goal of the essay is to review the focal paper and to explain how it builds on previous research (the earlier papers) and how it contributed to future research (the more recent papers). Essays should be approximately 2000 words and written in the format of a journal paper. Topics must be approved by March 1st and essays submitted by April 14th. To have a topic approved, email me with information on the topic you have chosen with full citations of the papers you will use. I will be happy to discuss ideas with you beforehand and as you proceed.