BIOLOGY 106 - GRADING AND COURSE POLICIES

  • Grading Policies
  • Making Up Missed Exams
  • Extra Credit
  • Attendance
  • Honor Code


    EXAMS

    There will be three midterm exams (see syllabus for schedule), each worth 100 points, and one final exam (given during our course's assigned time during finals period) worth 200 points. Each midterm exam will cover specific lectures, as indicated on the Lecture Notes Web Site. The final exam will be approximately 50% on the material covered after Exam III through the end of the course, and 50% cumulative.

    Exam questions are in multiple-choice format, usually with five choices per question. Each question is worth two points, so there are 50 questions on a 100-point exam, and 100 questions on a 200-point exam.


    FINAL GRADING SCALE AND LETTER GRADE ASSIGNMENTS

    There are no permanent letter grades for any exam. However, I will post an approximate letter grade scale for each exam, based upon the normal curve of the entire class's scores. The approximate distribution is generally be distributed along the curve as follows:
    • Top 10-13% - A
    • next 15-18% - B
    • next 50-55% - C
    • next 5-10% - D
    • bottom 5-10% - F
    At the end of the course, when all exam scores have been summed and averaged for the entire class, I will make final letter grade cut-offs based on the percentages you see above. Your relative performance (compared to your classmates') on exams and workshops will be the primary determinant of your grade.

    For example, if the top score in the class is 480 points out of 500, then the top scorer will receive an "A", as will the next 10-13% of the class down from that top score. The next 15-18% of students down from the lowest "A" will receive a "B", the next 50-55% of students down from the lowest "B" will receive a "C", and so on.

    Plus and Minuses?

    Yes, I do assign "+" and "-" grades, but there is a very narrow margin--usually about five points from a cut off. This cut off will always work in your favor, however. For example, if the lowest "A" is 450 points, then you will receive an "A"--not an "A-" if you earned 450 points. If the lowest "A" is 450 points, then students who earned 440 - 449 will be in the "B+" to "A-" range.

    The grade curve might be represented graphically something like this (not exactly to scale, but you get the idea):

    NOTE THAT THE POINT TOTALS AND CUT OFF POINTS ABOVE ARE HYPOTHETICAL ONLY! YOUR CLASS CURVE MAY BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, AND WILL DEPEND ENTIRELY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF ALL THE STUDENTS IN THE COURSE THIS SEMESTER. THE HYPOTHETICAL POINT TOTALS ABOVE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE AN ESTIMATE OF WHAT FINAL POINTS WILL BE WORTH (IN TERMS OF LETTER GRADES) AT THE END OF THIS SEMESTER. THEY'RE AN EXAMPLE ONLY!



    MAKE UP EXAMS

    If you miss an exam for any reason, I will allow you to take a make up exam.

    But there's a catch.

    Regular exams, as you read above, are multiple choice. All make up exams--NO EXCEPTIONS!--are given in short answer/essay format. The material covered is exactly the same as that on the regular exam, but most students consider the format to be more challenging (and actually, often more indicative to me of your true level of understanding of the material) than the multiple-choice format. Since you have more time than your classmates to study, it all comes out evenly in the end, right?

    If you miss a regular exam, you must notify me within 48 hours, and we will set a time for the make up exam at our mutual convenience. Use the same study guide, notes, and text readings as the regular exam to study for any make up exam.

    The LAST DAY TO MAKE UP ANY MISSED EXAM THIS SEMESTER is Monday, December 4 at 2:30pm in SA 110 (the science lab on the Southwest side of Cox, across the lobby from the big lecture hall). If you need to make up a missed exam, please EMAIL ME to (1) let me know you're coming and (2) tell me which exam you're making up.

    FINAL EXAM MAKE UP POLICY


    There will be no early or late finals administered. There are no exceptions to this rule! Please check your travel reservations no later than the second week of class, and make sure you do not leave town before the scheduled final exam.

    If you miss the final exam, (1) provide me with a valid excuse within one day of missing the exam and (2) are passing the course at the time of the final, you will be given a grade of "I" (Incomplete) for the course, and have one year to take the final exam. If you fail in either of these simple tasks, your grade will be based upon your total exam scores taken before the final plus a ZERO for the final exam.

    If you miss the final exam and are not passing the course at the time of the final exam, you will receive an "F" for the course. Bottom line: you can still salvage your grade if you at least show up. Study hard and go for it!



    EXTRA CREDIT

    There is only one way to get extra points in this course, and that is to attend scheduled extra credit events that will be announce in class and on the course web site.

    Usually, these events will be a video or a special lecture. At the event, special tokens will be given out (one per person). A student who attended the event must bring the token with him/her to the next exam. The token will be traded for a small sheet of paper on which are nestled a given number of extra credit questions (usually worth two points each) on the topic of the video or the event. Instructions on the question sheet will tell you where on your exam answer sheet to bubble in your correct answers.

    No token, no extra credit! No exceptions!

    How It Works
    There are usually two opportunities per semester for extra credit, worth a total of 16 points. The final grade curve is drawn without any extra credit points included. Only after the final grade cut-offs are decided are the extra credit points added. For example, if you are within 9 points of the cut-off for an "A", and you have 9 points of extra credit, you get bumped into the "A" range. Such a deal!

    YOU ARE NOT PENALIZED IN ANY WAY IF YOU CANNOT OR DO NOT WISH TO ATTEND THE EXTRA CREDIT EVENTS! The events are fun and educational, but although they can change your grade if you're near the borderline, they might not make a difference (except to your intellectual enrichment) if you're strongly entrenched in a particular grade range.



    ATTENDANCE

    Attendance should be considered mandatory, but you're on your honor. I do not take roll. I figure you're paying to be here, and it's up to you whether or not you would like to get what you pay for by coming to class.

    Note that the posted lecture notes are only an outline of what is actually said in class, and that anything said in class or in the text readings is fair game for exams. A huge part of learning the (admittedly extensive amount of!) material in BIL 160 is self-motivation and a willingness to truly apply yourself. That is up to you.



    Honor Code

    The
    Honor Code is taken seriosly here. If you are caught cheating, you will be given a final grade of "F" for the course without further notice. If necessary, the matter will be turned over to the Honor Council.

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