|BIO 301||Science, Religion and Reality||Fall 2013|
|Dates:||Fall 2013, August 28-December 18|
|Primary Instructor:||William Gaud [William.Gaud@nau.edu]|
|Office Hours:||Variable: send e-mail to William.Gaud@nau.edu for quickest response. You may call 928-523-7516 to leave a message, but it could be a long time before you get a reply.|
|Class Room:||None. This is a class taught entirely on the World Wide Web.|
|Syllabus:||The syllabus tells you what is in the class and how the class operates. It contains descriptions of, instructions for, and examples of how to complete the graded activities. Learning depends on critically reading and studying the material. You will practice making reliable decisions based on evidence and how to minimize the chance of errors in an uncertain world.|
|Date:||Rev 9-August-2013 (Modifications may be made up to the first day of class.) The headings in this version correspond to the same headings in the version in the class in BbLearn, but the version in the class contains some additional headings such as how to check grades in BbLearn and the assignment format to follow in submitting your answers. Be sure to check the class version for any additional headings.|
An examination of some of the important topics in today's world in which there are significant differences of opinion, contrasting beliefs from various cultures with scientific evidence with contemporary practice. Topics may include: the origin of life and creation, when the life of an individual begins, the afterlife, sexual orientation, heavenly bodies, the age of the earth. 3 hrs credit. Liberal Studies in the Science/Applied Science [SAS] Block
We are in a time of information explosion about every conceivable subject, including a weak economy providing uncertainty for the future, two to four wars producing extreme agony for many, largely responsible for the uncertainty, theatening optimism, posing ethical questions in both public and private life, and much more. We are sometimes asked and sometimes not asked our opinions. Nevertheless, we all have opinions and those opinions should be informed and educated opinions. After all, there is very little that happens in the world today that does not affect us either directly or indirectly.
We are bombarded with the opinions of others, many of whom want us to adopt their opinions. Let's take a look at a set of such opinions and compare them with the reality of what people actually do (or did) and relevant facts that have been gathered by a reliable process in a verifiable way. Regardless of whether we wish to adopt (or keep, modify, or discard) an opinion, we will be much better informed about it. Moreover, we will educate ourselves in how to evaluate any other information: to identify the essential content of the information (including what it means, implies, assumes) and be prepared (if we want to) to determine its factual basis.
If you are successful in this class, you will learn to:
Background in biology is not required. However, students taking this upper division course are expected to have developed the ability to recognize and learn relevant subject matter presented in text and in pages on the World Wide Web. For this 3-credit class you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week for college level work to read, understand, digest, and relate the subject matter.
If you find yourself spending much more than 10 hrs/wk, consciously focus on exactly what is being asked of you. Spend time only on the questions being asked and don't allow yourself to be distracted by information tangential to the central point of the activity.
There will be one topic for each of the 15 weeks of the semester. They will be presented briefly on a web page (called a "module") for each of the 15 teaching weeks in the semester under the headings: Observation, Religion, Science, Reality, and Summary. Links in both text and some images will provide greater detail and depth. For each class week (except as described under "Deadlines" for week#1 in 2013), students are expected to take a quiz (opening on Sunday at 12:00 am and due no later than Tuesday at 11:59 pm; you are not required to work on Sunday, but you have all 3 days Sunday to Tuesday for the quiz if it suits your schedule), to analyze and respond in a substantive way to a statement (due no later than Wednesday), and to write short essays in response to questions in an assignment (due no later than Thursday). There is a short quiz on using hypotheses in each of the first three weeks in order for you to check your understanding and help you perfect this scientific skill of using hypotheses in making decisions. For the last and 16th week of the semester, there is a module (Module 16: Finals Week) with links to an exam covering all 15 weeks of the semester and, finally, a graded questionnaire. Those two links become active on Monday, December 16 at 12:00 am and 8:00 am, respectively. There is a class calendar showing dates for graded activities.
The class web pages and their links are a combination of a virtual textbook and lecture notes. Most quiz and assignment questions are directly related to this material.
The weekly module includes a web page displaying the class links to information for the week (BIO 301 URLs). The page of class links is a quick reference to the content and how the class web pages are related to the week's topic. This page can help you in taking the quizzes.
A good way to check your learning is to have someone else ask you to explain the items in the content pages.
There is a glossary, reached from the link to "Tools" on the maroon course menu, with terms that are used with specific meanings in the context of the course. These terms are defined, sometimes with an explanation of their significance to a particular topic.
There is no one printed textbook that covers all the topics in this course, combining scientific and religious perspectives against the background of the real world. Instead of requiring you to purchase 9-10 textbooks that would cover the depth and breadth of the course, pertinent information was gathered from many sources into a virtual textbook for the class.
A bulky and expensive printed textbook often uses a large heading to first introduce a topic, followed by smaller headings linearly organized to provide additional detail. In an analogous way, the virtual textbook uses one main page to introduce several topics and links to more detailed information on the web pages of the internet. Many of the course web pages were written especially for this class. If there was a good web page on someone else's server, then the course linked to that page. You should read all of the course content pages and any outside pages to which they link directly.
Almost all the answers to the quiz questions can be found on the course web pages and their direct links. While many of the assignment questions are based on the subjects covered in the course web pages, it may be necessary in answering some assignment questions to find supporting information elsewhere, especially when you are given the freedom to choose examples to illustrate the points you make. Always cite the sources of all information you include in your assignment questions.
Every image displayed in a course content page contains a title and the web address where it was found. If you rest your cursor over the image, your browser should display its title and url (at least in Internet Explorer). Some images contain embedded links, and the link is indicated in the caption. There may be quiz or assignment questions based on images or the web pages to which they link.
Web pages that were used as source material for the class are usually listed at the bottom of the course content pages. They are provided in case you want to examine original sources of the information on which the class web pages were based. Furthermore, it is a professional courtesy to acknowledge the work of others that we used. Sometimes they may provide insight into a topic that could help you answer a quiz or assignment question, for instance the links to "Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories," "Beyond Stones and Bones," or to "Chosen People."
This course is truly an online course in that all its resources are provided through the internet. From half to three-quarters of the students in the class are not living in Flagstaff, so it is necessary to provide the content in a suitable form. Previous experience with the bookstore showed that off-campus students encountered significant difficulty in obtaining textbooks or course packs before the class began, particularly for students registering late. The internet gives every student equal access to the course content, no matter in what time zone or country, and any modifications are available instantaneously to everyone.
All the links to the course web pages are listed on BIO 301 URLs in each week's learning module. Links for hypothesis activities, assignments, and readings are also listed there.
BIO 301 URLs
The BIO 301 URLs web page is the week's list of all the links in the class web pages. The image shows a portion of the web page for the first week of the semester. This page shows you the organization of class topics and gives you access to class material through its links.
Quiz Strategy: Read over all the quiz questions on the first day the quiz is available so you know the subject of each question. Then read the class web pages, noting which pertain to each quiz question so that you can use the information on that page to choose the correct answers.
Assignment Strategy: Read over all the assignment questions to familiarize yourself with the topic of each question. Then read the class web pages, using information from them which is relevant to the assignment questions. If you use information from the class web pages to synthesize your answers, be sure to cite those class web pages using the class citation format.
Sample Questions: There are links to sample questions, assignment questions, and hypothesis activities, indicated in green, in several weeks of the semester. All of these questions are interactive tutorials that provide relevant information on class subjects. In addition, the sample hypothesis activities take you step-by-step through the exercise so that you can study and learn the skill and how to apply it in discriminating among hypotheses on all sorts of topics. These samples are a guide to learning how to properly use hypotheses in designing experiments/analyses as well as adjusting for confounding factors. If your grades on the class hypothesis activities are less than perfect, then study these samples to perfect the skill.
Other Links: Links to class examples, class citation format, resources for assignments, and weekly readings are also included at the bottom of the BIO 301 URLs page for your convenience.
FIRST THREE WEEKS
During the first three weeks of class each of the graded activities shows you how to be successful.
Discuss Topics: You may discuss any of the material in the class with anyone you wish before you begin to: 1) answer the quiz questions; 2) compose the answers to the assignments; or, 3) compose your hypotheses/description of evidence and your own response to the weekly class statement. Obviously, once you know what the quiz questions are, you should not discuss them with anyone else as that is obviously cheating on the quiz. If you need clarification about a quiz question, email the instructor.
Independent Work: Once you begin to prepare your own responses to quizzes, assignments, weekly statement/hypotheses, whether in your mind, on a computer, on paper, or in any other manner, you may not collaborate with anyone else. Put your thoughts in your own words by yourself.
The official class time (US Mountain Standard Time) is kept by the computer on the NAU Mountain Campus. The class computer displays this time on some pages, such as at the bottom of the page when you review a quiz. This time can be critical when the deadline for submitting a graded activity is close. Be sure to set your watch to the clock on the class computer if the deadline is approaching and you don't want to be late.
The schedule for all graded activities provides enough flexibility for you to meet class deadlines wherever you are working in the world, at least three 24-hour days. We will always assume you are using official class time unless you specify another time reference. Remember that there is no time change in the class to or from daylight savings time.
Your responsibility is to know and meet the deadlines for all activities in the course. Read the syllabus and list the activities: quizzes (Tue), hypotheses (Wed), and assignments (Thu). Check the course calendar and cross off each one after you submit it. Note: All quizzes, the final exam, and the questionnaire open on specific dates. Unfortunately, the calendar will display them only during the availability period: not before each opens and not after each closes. You gain access to each week's graded activities, other than the Initial Quiz, only after you have marked the week's course content "Reviewed." Also, the calendar will display those graded activities only after you have marked the course content "Reviewed." Therefore, you should be aware of the due dates for all graded activities even if they are not displayed on the calendar. It was not useful to program the BbLearn calendar in that way, but we are stuck with it.
Schedule Adjustment for Fall 2013: NAU's schedule for fall 2013 starts on Wednesday, August 28, putting Saturday and Sunday in the middle of Week#1. BIO 301 works best for weeks that start on Monday and end on Friday. Therefore, for fall 2013, Hypothesis Quiz#1 and Hypothesis Activity #1 will open on August 28 and be due on Thursday, August 29. Weekly Quiz#1 and Assignment#1 will open on August 28 and be due on Friday, August 30 at 11:59 pm. BIO 301 practice is to grade the hypothesis activities and the assignments by the end of Sunday (with a few exceptions), and return graders' comments on Monday. Normally work submitted after the due dates would result in the loss of points for tardiness. In fall 2013, there will be no points deducted for tardiness if you submit your hypothesis activity or assignment by Tuesday, September 3 at 11:59 pm. Nevertheless, those items will not be graded in time for you to see, or benefit from, graders' comments by Monday of that week. Subsequent weeks will then start on Monday and end on Friday each week, e.g., Week#2 will start on September 2 and end on September 6. Even though Monday September 2 is a university holiday (Labor Day), Quiz#2 will open at 12:00 am on September 1 for 3 days. You are not required to work on the quiz on Sunday or Labor Day, but, if it suits your schedule, the quiz will be available.
Start Early: Technology can fail unexpectedly at any time and availability of graded activities in BIO 301 allows for such surprises. Problems with your computer, the BbLearn server, or diminished access at the last moment is not an acceptable excuse for failure to meet class deadlines. Know where you can find alternative equipment if yours does not work: a public library, NAU library, internet cafe, university computer lab, etc. Start early and turn in your work well before the deadline. Besides, you will get more out of the class if you take the time to think about, and reflect on, the ideas in it without having to rush at the last minute.
University Holidays: The "Due date" is a term used by the NAU course management system. In this course, "Due date" means only the date by which you are expected to turn in your work to be on time. The dates do not imply anything about when you do your work, only that it must be turned in before the date passes. There may be students in time zones elsewhere in the world, some with two jobs, some with night jobs, or some having various special commitments. There should be sufficient time for everyone, regardless of individual circumstances, to complete the various graded activities and submit them on time. It is up to you to submit your work by the posted "Due dates."
Late Assignments: You may turn in the assignments late up to 2 days after the due date, with a third of the available points deducted at the beginning of each 24-hour period past the listed due date. After 2 days past the listed due date, the grade is zero. Since all the assignments are available on the first day of class, you decide when you do the work and when you turn it in. If you have scheduled a trip, whether with athletics, another class, family, etc., plan your time to turn in class work by the due date, or, at the latest, within the following 2 days.
Thanksgiving Week: Monday-Wednesday are normal university days, so the quiz for that week's subject opens as usual on Sunday and closes on Tuesday. The due dates for the other graded activities associated with that subject fall as usual on Wednesday (hypotheses) and Thursday (assignment). These two activities are available on the first day of the semester, as are all hypothesis activities and assignments, and you may choose to complete and submit them at any time before the availability period expires on their respective due dates. Please be advised of the regular cycle of class due dates so that you may plan your individual schedule for the semester, whatever that may be.
Each of the assignments is to be submitted through BbLearn in a file in .rtf format using a 12 pt Times New Roman font within the margins of the initial assignment sheet. The maximum grade for a question is the number given in parentheses.
Be concise and to the point in articulating your own positions after you have thought through the questions. Distill out the relevant information and put it in your own words. Do not copy and paste sections of word-for-word text from other sources. If you copy a particularly pertinent, short quote, enclose it in double quotation marks and cite it in your sources. You need to paraphrase the essence of the information from a source that is applicable to the question rather than copy and paste someone else's material. Copying a source word-for-word without quotes would be plagiarizing another author.
You must do these activities independently of the other students and the results you submit must be done by you. You may discuss topics with others before you begin to compose your answers, but the answers themselves must be composed and written completely independently by you.
The assignments require short answers. Always be sure to go to the bottom of the last page of each assignment so that you do not overlook any questions.
Some of the assignments may contain links to information you need to complete the assignments. These links are displayed in blue text. Click on the blue text to go to the link. These links are also included in the page of BIO 302 URL's for the weekly module.
Note: One of the Reference pages (on the class Home page) tells you how to conduct efficient searches for resources on the internet. Click on Tools, Internet Search. Try it at the beginning of the course and use your searching skills to find the information you need.
Cite your sources of information according to the guidelines in "Acknowledging Your Sources" in the Reference pages, including for an internet resource both the title of the web page where you found the information and its url (web address).
Good communication skills are at least as important in science as they are in other disciplines. Therefore, every combination of 3 typographical errors, misspellings, missing punctuation, inappropriate punctuation, or non-sentences will count off.
Before you submit the file containing the answers to the assignment questions, be sure that it is in .rtf format and that you can open it and read the contents. If the extension is .lnk, only the computer that created the file can read it (usually your own personal computer). One week after the grades for the assignment are posted, there will be no change in the grade book entry. You have only that one week to verify that you submitted the correct file, received a grade, and that the grade accurately reflects the answers you gave.
There is at least one sample assignment question in the content web pages in each of the first 3 weeks of class. Others may occur in subsequent weeks. These sample questions are content-relevant and provide feedback on both the substance of the question as well as the correct approach to answering them.
The initial quiz requires you to demonstrate that you know how the class works by correctly answering a group of questions on information taken from the syllabus. Students who have carefully read the syllabus should be able to complete the quiz in less than 5 minutes and then proceed with the rest of the class.
Students who miss any of the questions can correct a misunderstanding by reading the relevant section of the syllabus. We want everyone to know how to meet the expectations of the class, how to check your progress regularly, and avoid surprises when the final grades are posted.
If you do not get a perfect score the first time you take the initial quiz, review the quiz and take it again. It should not take anyone more than two tries to get a perfect score. We interpret your perfect score on this quiz as your certification that you have read the syllabus and the reference pages, and that you understand how the course operates.
The score on the initial quiz is not part of your grade.
Description: This hypothesis assignment is a critical thinking activity that develops and practices a skill to focus on, understand, articulate, and draw a conclusion about ideas. The link to "significantly" in the first week's main content page and its link to "Null Hypothesis" explain how hypotheses are used and gives an example. Every week there is a class statement containing one or more ideas. Focus on one idea and express your understanding of it in the form of a null hypothesis that can be tested. Articulate a reasonable alternative hypothesis. Describe in sufficient detail the evidence (data) you need to discriminate between the two hypotheses. Write your hypotheses and description of the evidence in the template provided in the Hypothesis Activity, e.g., H01-Hyp in the first week. Submit the assignment by the due date. See examples.
KEY TO SUCCESS
The key to success in this class is to: a) start early; b) read the directions in the syllabus and in the graded activities plus follow any examples provided and look at all the sample questions embedded in the course web pages; c) check your work to be sure that you have answered all the questions correctly; and, d) submit all work on time.
Quiz Advice: When taking a quiz, read all the questions first to see what is being asked. Open another browser window and go to the course content for the week. Then read the course content web pages and their links to find the material on which the questions were based. Take notes to remind yourself where each quiz topic is located. On Monday, answer a third of the questions. On Tuesday, review your answers from Monday and answer a second third of the questions. On Wednesday, review your previous answers and complete the quiz.
Hypothesis Activity Advice: The link to "significantly" in the first week's main content page and its link to "Null Hypothesis" explain how hypotheses are used and gives an example. The instructions in the hypothesis activity contain a link to another example. The file you download for the hypothesis activity contains a model to follow. Read and study these 3 examples. Print the model and place it on your desk for reference when you fill in your answers to each week's hypothesis activity. The hypothesis activity follows a logical pattern, i.e., a recipe, in which each cell provides information for the next step in testing the hypothesis based on one of the ideas listed from the statement. Learn the recipe and follow it each week.
Assignment Advice: For assignment questions, always look for useful information in the course web pages before going to the internet, both to save yourself time and to find information specific to the assignment questions. Any links that may be provided in the file with the assignment questions that you download contain information that is relevant to one or more questions in the assignment. Those links are also located on the BIO 301 URLs web page.
Sample Questions: In each of the first two weeks of class, there is a link in the class web pages to a sample hypothesis activity. Each sample hypothesis activity is an online interactive tutorial that gives both correct and incorrect responses. They contain feedback for each response that shows you how to successfully complete each step and what mistakes to avoid. They contain feedback on the content of the hypothesis topic as well as the mechanics of how to approach each answer. The sample takes you through the entire set of steps exactly as they occur in the weekly hypothesis activities and is specifically designed for people who have never worked with hypotheses before. There are also sample quiz questions and sample assignment questions in tutorial form to show you what answers would be correct and which would be incorrect in a number of different contexts. If you don't notice the links to the sample questions in the class web pages or want to find them again, the locations of those links are included in the BIO 302 URLs pages in each weekly module. Even though you do not earn grade points directly with the sample questions, you can study them and learn how to earn points on the graded questions - an investment well worthwhile. Sample questions were developed on Internet Explorer to display the first panel on the right of your screen and subsequent panels on the left. They display this way in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. They do not display properly in Safari (on the MAC).
Auditors are expected to complete at least 75% of the assignments and quizzes.
All weekly quizzes, hypothesis activities, and assignments are due by the dates and times indicated, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively, in weeks #2-15. In week#1, the quiz and assignment are due on Friday, August 30 and the hypothesis activity due on Thursday, August 29. Check the class calendar. Hypothesis activities and assignments are available on the first day of class and are due at 11:59 pm on the day indicated. The class computer will allow you to submit each assignment for two days past the due day, but will mark the assignment late. At the beginning of each of the 2 24-hour periods after the due date and time, you will lose one-third the initial value of the graded activity. You will receive a grade of zero for an assignment if you do not turn it in within two days after the due date.
Quizzes open at 12:00 am Sunday and close at 11:59 pm Tuesday. You are not required to work on the quiz on Sunday or Labor Day, but, if it suits your schedule, the quiz will be available. You may take a quiz late if you notify the instructor in advance and adequately justify why you could not access the web somewhere in the world during the 3 days that it is available (computer in a library, computer in an internet cafe, computer of a friend or family member, etc.). You will lose 3 points for taking the quiz late.
One week after the due date for an hypothesis activity, assignment, or quiz, there will be no change in the grade book for that graded activity. You have only that one week to verify that you submitted the correct file, received a grade, and that the grade accurately reflects the answers you gave.
Note: The time is the local time on the class computer at NAU, regardless of what time your clock shows. Remember that NAU is always on Mountain Standard Time - no daylight savings in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Each weekly subject is accompanied by a quiz, a hypothesis activity, and an assignment. There are 15 assignments for 16 points each (one of those points for following the requested format for answers on assignments), 15 hypothesis activities for 5 points each, 15 quizzes for 10 points each. At the end of the semester, there is also 1 comprehensive final exam for 15 points, and 1 questionnaire for 10 points. The questionnaire is the last class assignment, available at 8 am on the first day of exam week, and it is not the same as the university's online evaluation. The 3 short hypothesis quizzes in the first 3 weeks of class count for 7 points together. The total number of points is 497. The Initial Quiz at the beginning of the semester does not count in your grade.
The grading scale:
All weekly graded activities count. There is no extra credit work.
Your current standing: You can always calculate your current score in the class by adding up the points on the activities for which you have a grade, not including the initial quiz on the syllabus, and dividing by the total number of points they are worth. You can also use such information to calculate the maximum grade possible based on the grades you already have and the remaining grades.
The online class provides four modes of communication with your instructors:
CHEATING & PLAGIARISM
Cheating is dishonest and unethical. Students found cheating will be subject to University discipline, but at the minimum will leave this course with an F.
Remember, each assignment must be your own work. Even though you may talk to others and discuss a topic with others, you are required to compose and write the answers to the assignment questions completely independently of anyone else. Do not compare completed assignments with each other until after all of you have submitted them. Assignments that are so similar as to leave the instructor no doubt that you collaborated with each other will be considered cheating. It is not worth the risk to compare results before you submit them.
An original author deserves credit for the work the author did. To fail to properly acknowledge another's work and, thus, represent that work as your own, is plagiarism. That is why you must cite the sources (references) you use in preparing your assignments. Cite the sources of the information you use in your answers according to the guidelines in "Acknowledging Your Sources" in the Reference pages.
GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION
Good communication skills are at least as important in science as they are in other disciplines. Therefore, every combination of 3 typographical errors, misspellings, missing punctuation, inappropriate punctuation, or non-sentences will count off.
People try to answer difficult questions from experience, but also from preconceived notions and what they take for granted from their upbringing - how they have been conditioned to view the world. Let's broaden our perspective on these questions and expand our background by: 1) identifying the fundamental issue in the question; 2) finding information that clarifies our understanding of the issue; 3) articulating an answer that is consistent with all the facts that we now know (including the new knowledge that we discover during this class). By tackling these questions, we learn how to educate ourselves to analyze any of life's questions with a reliable process that uses facts to arrive at an informed decision.