Spring, 2008

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 material you submit must be your own work, in your own words, not handed in any other class by you or anyone else. Your workshop reports must not be copied in any way from your partner, 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. 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. Each student is responsible for informing use two weeks in advance regarding impending absences, and for providing documentation regarding these absences. Each student is responsible for monitoring their grades and reporting any mistakes on the D2L grade sheet within two weeks of the due date for the material.
  5. ACADEMIC CONTESTANTS, STUDENT ATHLETES, GREEK LIFE, SPECIAL NEEDS: Every student in this class has the same opportunities and obligations. "Dean's excuses" issued for sporting events do not provide special privilege. They are available for all students absent for academic reasons. Regardless of "Dean's excuses," students who fail to submit a D2L quiz on time or miss a pop quiz, receive a zero for that work, to be dropped as a low-score. Athletes or pledges who need a current grade must bring that request to Prof. Davis' office hours. Students needing special testing accommodations must register with Professor Davis in the first week of class.
  6. CELL-PHONES & LAPTOPS: Student-owned cell-phones and laptops should be TURNED OFF before class starts, and not turned on until after class ends. Like other universities, the UA initially 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 introductory classes, have had very negative results (Chronical of Higher Education 1/27/07). Laptops distract students from the lecture because students check email and surf the web during lecture.
    Laptops do have the potential benefits, particularly students with vision and hearing special needs. Any student who needs or can demonstrate they will benefit from the use a laptop can schedule a meeting with Prof. Davis.
    Students who can document a valid need for their laptop, and who can use them responsibly will be assigned seating at the tables in the back of the classroom, reserved for use of laptops.


The NATS104 D2L home page includes CURRENT ANNOUNCEMENTS and and a schedule that links to lecture notes, readings, quizzes, workshops, the term paper, class 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 (see D2L home page for email addresses) 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, to make appointments, or for any other reason relating to class.

The D2L schedule outlines the topics that we will cover in lecture and in the workshops, and provides linds to the online reading assignments. The assigned readings are due before lecture.


Attendance is required. Attendance will be monitored by marking students absent, whose seats are empty at the beginning of lecture; and by occasional pop-quizzes. You must sit in your assigned seat to avoid being marked absent. You should anticipate a lower grade if you miss classes - for the average student, about 1/5 letter grade for every class missed. The lecture notes and readings are posted online, but neither gives the emphasis and explanation provided in the lecture. You are responsible for all of the content, including that presented in lecture. By missing lectures, you will miss any corrections or explanations that are made in lecture.

There are NO MAKE-UPs for Pop Quizzes, Workshops or Lecture Quizzes. Workshop and Lecture Quizzes are availabe for one week. If you know you will miss part of a week, complete the work before you leave, or complete the exercise online while you are away. For each graded item, there are more opportunities than required. For example your grade is based on 20 lecture quizzes, but 27 are given on D2L. The lowest scores will be dropped.

If you will miss an EXAM you must notify us two weeks BEFORE the exam in writing (by email), or or submit convincing evidence for a valid excuse for the absence. Valid excuses, whether submitted before or after the exam are limited to major health-related emergencies (read MORBYMORT) or academically-sanctioned absences (requires Dean-of-Students' written excuse). The opportunity to take a make-up exam will be based in part on class attendance. Only one lecture-exam make-up will be given for all of the students missing the exam. This will be scheduled after the missed exam to accommodate any students with traumatic excuses.
Clarification added Jan. 18, 2008.

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. Attendance will be taken during the first 10 minutes of class.


Grades for submitted items are normally posted on D2L upon completion of the exercise, but the official grades are kept offline. Occasionally, the grades are not correctly recorded on D2L. Each student must check their grades frequently and report any discrepancies within two weeks of the due-date for the material. 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 4 quizzes, and your grade will be based on your 4 highest scores.


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 (MLA NOT ACCEPTED!!!) and to the peer review process. Specific topics will be assigned, and once assigned, these cannot be changed afterward. Workshops 6, 9 & 10 are term-paper-related. Each must be completed to obtain eligibility for the next. The Final Draft of the Term Paper will be due soon after the second exam. Combined with the three term-paper-related workshops, it is the the single most important component of your grade.

    If you decide to take and continue in this course, you are agreeing to submit your papers online, when so instructed, to a plagiarism-prevention program called When you set up your individual account with for this class, make sure you understand and consent to all the terms that the program provides you at that point. You should note that - always without your name and any personal information - will retain your paper as part of their database so that students who plagiarize from it can be detected. Because of this program, the vast majority of you who do your own work and cite your sources of information properly will not have to compete with students who commit undetected plagiarism. Anyone who has questions or problems with may talk privately about these with the instructor.

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

Revised by OKD 1/9/08