Fall, 2007

Professor Davis, Office Hrs MW 2:00, GLD-S 344, email, 621-7953

Welcome to NATS 104 - Life on Earth! In this course, you will learn about biological systems, from molecular to global. You will gain firsthand knowledge about the processes of scientific investigation and communication. You will gain a basic understanding of biological systems, how biological systems are studied and how biological systems change. Our goal is to prepare you to understand and evaluate the continuing developments and controversies in biological that effect your life.


  1. LEARN BIOLOGY! Attend all lectures and workshops on time, complete the readings before lecture, complete all assignments on time.
  2. DON'T CHEAT! Your grade must reflect your understanding of biology. Cheating defeats that requirement for yourself or for others. Read University Code of Academic Integrity (link). Copying material from any other source is cheating. The materials you submit must be your own work, not handed in any other class by you or anyone else. Your workshop reports must not be copied in any way from the internet or any other source, it must be entirely your own words. Cheating also includes giving your assignments to another person to copy, because it causes that student's grade not to reflect their understanding of biology. Cheating will result in a grade of zero for the assignment, a failing grade for this course, and/or referral to the Dean of Students, Melissa Vito, and Associate Dean Carol Thompson for possible suspension or expulsion from the University.

  3. RESPECT: honorable and appropriate behavior. Respect for students is shown through good manners, sympathy and impartiality. The Professor and G.T.A.s will be on time, prepared, and polite. They will be flexible and sympathetic of the demands on students' lives as long as accommodations do not violate impartiality, or prevent the learning of biology. No favoritism will be shown. Students needing special accommodations must register with Professor Davis in the first week of class. Respect for the Professor and G.T.A.s is shown in classroom manners: by showing up on time for all classes and by not leaving early, by being quiet during class (all cell phones off), and by following instructions. Cheating is disrespectful to both the instructors and to fellow students.
  4. RESPONSIBILITY: The examples under "respect" include the responsible behavior expected of every student. Each student is expected never to disrupt class (UA policy) and never to behave in a threatening manner (UA policy). Each student is responsible for all of the information included on this syllabus, on the class schedule, on the class home page, and all announcements made in class. (This section [responsibility] added 11/4/07)
  5. STUDENT ATHLETES: Every student in this class has the same opportunities and obligations. "Dean's excuses" issued for sporting events do not provide special privilege. For example, if you fail to submit a D2L quiz on time or are absent for a pop quiz, that quiz score will be dropped as a low-score, just as for every student in this class. If your coach asks for a current grade, you must bring that request to my office where I can look-up your grade on the official grade list, just as for every student in this class.
  6. LAPTOPS & CELL-PHONES: Beginning Nov. 5, laptop computers are no longer allowed in NATS 104 lectures, because they are very disruptive. Like other universities, the UA allowed laptops in lectures and provided wireless links in classrooms, due to their successful use in Engineering, Law, and Business classes.
    However, laptops in non-professional classes, particularly Tier One classes, have had very negative results (see Chronical of Higher Education 1/27/07 Laptops distract students from the lecture. Students check email and surf the web during lecture. They routinely show animations to students sitting near them. The classroom environment is better if they are prohibited.
    The GTAs in NATS 104 have not been able to enforce appropriate use of laptops. On Sept. 12, 2007, NATS104 bagan the policy of sending students from class who were using their laptops inappropriately. Beginning Nov. 5, laptops are not permitted in lecture.
    Laptops have the potential for use as an educational tool during lecture, particularly students with vision and hearing special needs: for example, taking notes in one window, while viewing the online lecture in another. Any student who genuinely needs or can demonstrate they have benefited from the use a laptop can schedule a meeting with Prof. Davis.
    Students who can document a valid need for their laptop, and who read the NATS104 "current anouncement" archive for Sept. 12, 2007, and read and can discuss these readings will be given seating at the tables in the back of the classroom, reserved for use of laptops. (This section [laptops] added 11/4/07)


This course has a web page: On this web page are IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, lecture notes, supplemental material for the lectures, the schedule of classes, policies (including this document), and a lot more information that you will find useful for this class. It is YOUR responsibility to check this web page frequently for any new information.

You may communicate with any of us at any time by email and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We strongly encourage you to use this avenue to ask for clarification about the course material, make appointments, or for any other reason relating to class.

The online schedule of classes outlines the topics that we will cover in lecture and in the workshops, and provides the reading assignments from your readings. The assigned readings should be completed before lecture.


Although we will not take attendance formally, you should anticipate a lower grade if you miss classes - for the average student, about 1/5 letter grade for every class you miss. The lecture notes are posted on the class web page, and the readings cover the material presented in lecture, but neither gives the emphasis and explanation provided in the lecture. You are responsible for all of the content of the lectures, including material not in the readings. By missing lectures, you will miss any corrections and explanations that are made in class.

If you will miss a lecture or workshop - for any reason - you MUST notify us BEFORE class or workshop by email or phone message. It is YOUR responsibility to keep us informed. If you fail to notify us before class or workshop, you will not be eligible for make-up lecture exams. Read MORBYMORT

Make-up Materials: all workshop/homework assignments and the term paper are due on the day and time specified on the class schedule, home page or during lecture, and will be assessed a 10% per day late penalty beginning as soon as the materials have been picked-up in class unless (1) the student has contacted the GTA more than 2 hours in advance and (2) the student has a valid excuse related to health or academic conflicts. There are no make-ups for quizzes. Only one lecture-exam make-up will be given for all the students missing the original exam, and then only if (1) the student has contacted Prof. Davis in advance and (2) the student has a valid excuse related to health or academic conflicts. There will be no other option to receive credit for that exam. Due to its date at the end of the semester, there is no make-up for the third lecture exam.

Tardiness: No lecture exams will be handed out after the first person to finish the exam has handed in their exam. No quizzes will be handed out five minutes after the quiz has begun.


Our goal is to give grades that indicate how much biology you have learned. The level and amount of material has been selected so that an average student can get a "C" if they do an average amount of work, and an "A" if they work hard: spend 9 hrs/week outside class reading and reviewing, read assigned material before class and workshop, review the notes before and after class, miss no classes, be on time, hand assignments in on time, attend and participate in review sessions. Students who already know the material covered in NATS 104 should contact Prof. Davis, regarding testing-out of the course (CLEP). There will be NO CURVE, the grades will be awarded strictly on the basis of the percentages given in the table above. See the statements on cheating elsewhere in this syllabus. Extra-credit exercises may be given under exceptional circumstances, but only to the entire class, never to one student of a select group of students.

Note that there are policies with implications for your grade in other sections in this syllabus. Here we explain procedures and policies for this class. Please read the following material carefully.


Our emphasis is on learning, not on testing. The exams and quizzes are a means to an end, not the goal itself. The purpose of the exams is to evaluate each student's understanding of all material presented in NATS 104, not to reward students for memorizing a portion of this material. Our philosophy is that all of the material is important, not just one or two figures or tables; this important material includes the assigned readings, the lectures and the workshop/homeworks. Each of the three lecture exams will include 20 - 50 questions, for a total of 100 points on each exam. During the exam period, no exam will be handed out after the first student to finish the exam has handed in their exam. The third exam is scheduled for one hour during the final exam time scheduled by the registrar for this class. It is not a comprehensive exam, it covers the material in the last third of the course. There is no make-up for the third lecture exam.


A D2L quiz is associated with each lecture. To receive up to 5 points credit, each quiz must be completed within one week of the lecture date. There are no make-ups, regardless of academic or other excuses. Any missed opportunities will dropped as a lowest score.


Un-announced ten-point quizzes will be given at various times during several lectures or workshops. The purpose of the quiz is to evaluate students' understanding of the material, assigned readings, or the workshop. There will be a total of at least 5 quizzes, and your grade will be based on your 5 highest scores. There are NO make-up quizzes. If you miss a pop quiz FOR ANY REASON, including illness, sporting events, family emergencies, etc., your grade will be based on the best remaining quizzes.


The workshop/homework exercises will include both in-class exercises and online D2L exercises. Both will provide an opportunity to learn in a "hands-on" way the major themes of NATS 104, and to expand on these themes. The workshops offer exposure to the scientific process, including research methods, analysis and compilation of data, library research, scientific debate, and the writing of research reports and papers. Your workshop exercises are worth a total of 100 points. They must be submitted on time to receive full credit. Any missed opportunities will dropped as a lowest score.


The term paper is designed to simulate the peer-review process of scientific journals. Particular attention is given to scientific format (NO, NOT MLA!!!) and to the peer review process. Specific topics will be assigned, and once assigned, these cannot be changed later in the class. The term paper will be due soon after the second exam.

Changes may be made to this syllabus, and marked as revisions.
This syllabus conforms with UA Policy

Revised by OKD 11/4/07