Procedures, Methods, Goals, and Expectations
The material in this course consists of units on topics in the history of science and related topics in science. Each unit consists of:
Your reading and preparation materials will consist of lectures posted to the Natural Science course website, and assigned readings at other sites. Links to off site readings will be given on the Natural Science web page for each week, as part of the science or history of science topic pages. You are expected to read the weblectures and web materials, write your short essay, and complete at least one attempt of the mastery exercise before attending the chat session.
This requires a special effort on your part to seek out the Web resources. Because of the high volume of traffic on the web, you will need to pace yourself in order to cover all the material. Reading the assigned material thoroughly will require about 2-3 hours of effort each week on your part. You may also find links to other material which may interest you, but be sure to finish the assigned readings first!
So, here are some points to note about using online resources as a kind of textbook:
Homework consists of mastery exercises with questions that may require you to chose answers, fill in the blanks with your own words, or identify terms, parts of a system, and short essays. These assignments will be posted on the Moodle site as part of the week's reading, lecture, and lab materials. Your unit essays are intended to help you formulate some ideas to contribute to chat, so they are due
beforechat meets. You post your response to the forum in the Moodle, where you can read the responses of your fellow students.
The mastery exercises should help you focus on the reading material, learn basic facts, and apply the concepts we discuss to practical situations. Attempting the exercise at least once prior to chat will help you identify areas which give you problems — things you don't understand —, which gives you the opportunity of asking questions so that you can complete the exercise. Exercises must be completed with a minimum passing score before you can take the quiz!
I will also read and comment on your essays (and exercise essays) periodically, addressing any areas where exercise feedback might be inadequate and offering suggestions for improvement. Exercises and quizzes are automatically graded, so that you can determine easily where you need help or need to put in extra effort.
During our chat sessions, which are each 90 minutes long, we will discuss the materials and issues raised in the texts, in my Web lecture, and in your directed web readings. You may raise questions about the material from the text, your homework, your labs, or (if we have time) issues in the media which have an impact on science.
In addition to homework, you may wish to perform some or all of the science investigations and demonstrations for this class. Some of these will require that you record and work with data; most will require that you observe some aspect of nature closely.
Labs are optional but if you wish lab credit, I require that you obtain parental permission; see the labs page for more information.
Weekly quizzes will be available in the course Moodle at the end of the discussion session; you must complete the quiz by the date due (usually the following chat session). Note that you need to complete the mastery exercise before you can take the quiz, and plan accordingly. If you miss a quiz date, you will have a week's grace period prior to the semester exam to make it up. Your average quiz score will be used in calculating your final grade.
Semester final exams will be given at the end of each term. These must be taken under parental supervision; your parents will be sent instructions on how to verify that the exam was taken under the specified conditions.
Midterms and term exams draw their multiple choice and identification questions from the quizzes and homework assignments; if you have done all the homework and taken all the quizzes, you will have seen all the final examination questions once already. I will publish a set of essay questions for the exams one to two weeks in advance so that you have time to prepare for them. Nothing on the midterm or term exams will be a surprise, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the exam is easier. It means that you are responsible for proper preparation!
Do not berate yourself if you do not master 100% of the material in this course (okay, there have been a very few students who have achieved a 100% on one of the semester exams....but it is very rare.) We cover a great deal of material very quickly — probably more than you have ever had to deal with in one course before. Keep in mind that the purpose of this course is to expose you to the entire history of science and the basic concepts of all branches of science. I hope that you will learn and remember the more important scientists and the major concepts, and if you get 50%-65% correct (depending on grade level) on each of the quizzes and semester exams, you will pass the course and be ready to continue with your further science education.
In order to best master the material, you should spend some time each day on your natural science assignments. While I do not require that you email each step to me each day, you should work out a schedule with one of your parents, write it down, and stick to it. Determine what you will accomplish each day of the week. Turn in or report your work to your parents so that they can keep you on track. We cover a lot of material in this class, and if you get behind, you will have a hard time catching up.
Here are ideas for two different schedules, showing how students with different learning styles might organize their study time. There is nothing magic about either schedule; you may find a completely different rhythm of reading and study suits you better. Notice that both schedules require some parental supervision and checking; if you make up your own schedule, be sure to incorporate some parental oversight "checkpoints" in it. This allows your parents to keep track of how you are doing, and to help you with conceptual problems where they can.
Notice also that no work is scheduled for Saturday, when you may want to catch up because of unexpected interruptions or when you may want to do labs. Nor is any work scheduled for Sunday, which I consider a day of rest and renewal.
The first is for someone who wants extra time to go over previous work while preparing new material:
Here is a schedule for student who likes to finish off one unit before starting another:
The server at Scholars Online will host our chats, and our Moodle will host the forums and exercises for your homework assignments, the quizzes, and the schedule for our work. Access will be limited to class members. We also have the ability to create Wiki entries (good for learning terminology and biographical notes!), take surveys, and work on group activities. Students performing labs for the lab option will have Moodle assignments where they can post their reports. Since only members of the class will see your postings, you should feel free to use the class forum to ask questions and contact each other about class business, and to continue discussions for which we may not have time in class, but remember:
I reserve the right to pull any threads or entries which I feel are unsuitable, so keep it clean and charitable.
You are expected to:
You may expect me to:
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