SPRING, 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 first-hand knowledge about the processes of scientific investigation and communication. You will gain a basic understanding of biological systems, how biological systems are studied, how biological systems change, and how to understand and evaluate ongoing progress in biology that effects your life.


  1. LEARN BIOLOGY! Attend all lectures and workshops on time, do all the readings before lecture, hand in 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. Although we encourage you to study and work together, you must complete the work on your own. What you hand in 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 in the 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 should 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.


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 textbook. 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. (clarification added Feb. 27, 2007, in response to several homeworks handed-in late at the end of class)

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


UA Students are not guaranteed a grade, they're guaranteed an opportunity to learn, and their grades reflect how well they do that. (motto added Mar. 1, 2007)

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.

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. Make-up exams will have different questions and be of a different format (essay & short answer). 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.


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 6 quizzes, and your grade will be based on your 5 highest scores. There are NO make-up quizzes. If you miss a quiz FOR ANY REASON, including illness, sporting events, family emergencies, etc., your grade will be based on the best remaining quizzes.


All students in NATS 104 must attend lectures on MW 2:00-2:50, and the workshop/homework sessions on Friday. Some of us find it easier to learn by doing, and the workshop/homework exercises provide an opportunity to learn in a "hands-on" way the major themes of NATS 104, and to expand on them. 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 120 points. They must be handed in on time to receive full credit.

Hand-written workshop assignments will be assessed a miniumu penalty of 10%, more if the work is illegible. Computer or printer failure will not be accepted as an excuse, because the assignment should be done sufficiently ahead of time to avoid this problem. (added Feb. 27, 2007, in response to many low grades given for hand-written reports due to illegibility)

You can collaborate with a partner for some workshops, such as the first, "Carbon, nutrients, and life" workshop. However, everything you turn in must be your own unique, original work. You can perform the experiment together, and share the same measurements, but your hand-ins must be your individual thoughts, written in your own words, showing your own understanding. You must type-up your own tables and draw your own figures.
(added Jan. 16, 2007, in response to student email)

Revised by OKD Jan. 5, 2007