FAQ  --  Frequently Asked Questions

This is a University-level course; the only difference from classroom-based courses is the mode of delivery.  There are requirements, standards and deadlines which must be observed.  Distance education course are NOT easier than classroom-based courses.  Students must manage their time and submit assignments when they are due without the structure and supervision associated with a classroom-based course.  Time management is essential.  Many students find distance education courses more difficult because the courses require the student to take greater responsibility for time management and completion of assignments.

Students cannot delay submission of assignments; there are specific dates by which assignments must be submitted, just as with classroom-based courses.  Students can work ahead or do course work at times convenient for the student, but students MUST submit assignments on or before the due dates.

You MUST read and understand the FAQ and Course Instructions.  The course instructions are very complete.  Multiple courses with large numbers of students are taught each term.  Students may believe that it is easier for them to ask a question by e-mail instead of re-reading the FAQ and Course Instructions,  but student must remember that it is a tremendous waste of Faculty time to ask questions via e-mail that are explained in the FAQ and Course Instructions.  When there are 200-300 students in the courses taught by a faculty member, responding to one e-mail question may take 3 minutes MULTIPLIED by 300 which is 900 minutes or 15 HOURS for one question.  Yes, it is taking 2 minutes with ONE student but EVERY student in all the courses deserve the same consideration of having 2 minutes of time to answer a question which is answered in the FAQ and the Course Instructions.  

Class size could be limited to 15-20 students, which is what many faculty have done to reduce the time demands of answering procedural question associated with a course; but, it is my belief that University-level students should be able to read, comprehend, and follow instructions, requirements, and standards which are provided in the FAQ and Course Instructions on the class site thus allowing more students to have the opportunity to take the courses during a semester/term.  The FAQ and Course Instructions are provided and are accessible 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week so that the students can consult the FAQ and Course Instructions when required.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

EXAMS

QUIZLETS

CTQ or CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS

D/P or DISCUSSION/PARTICIPATION

RWB or REAL WORLD BIOLOGY ABSTRACTS

ON-LINE GRADEBOOK

COURSE EVALUATION


GENERAL QUESTIONS

I am Dr. Tim Mulkey. I am an Associate Professor of Life Sciences. You can find more information at http://baby.indstate.edu/mulkey 

You can e-mail me (the best method; mulkey@biology.indstate.edu ) or call my office (812-237-2418) or if you are on campus, come by my office (Science Bldg 259). The departmental FAX number is 812-237-3378. In an emergency, you can call my home phone, 812-877-9735.

Web-based courses are courses that provide students who are time and/or place bound with the opportunity to take courses without the normal restrictions associated with traditional classroom-based courses. The courses are intended for students who are at a distance and are unable to attend classes on campus. The courses also provide students who have other conflicts, such as scheduling conflicts, with an opportunity to take the courses. Different instructors have different styles of web-based courses. In the courses I have developed, everything is provided over the web. All assignments and exams are completed over the web. Web-based courses are NOT the same as correspondence courses that were popular several years ago. Web-based courses are semester/term-based just like classroom-based courses. You are expected to complete the course within the semester/term. The courses do allow you flexibility in when you work on the assignments, but you should be aware that there are deadlines on completion of certain aspects of the courses.

In a web-based course, you must use formal writing skills.   Assignments in UNIVERSITY LEVEL COURSES should be submitted in PROPER ENGLISH, with correct spelling, correct punctuation, and correct capitalization.  This course is NOT an IM or "chat" session with friends; this is a UNIVERSITY COURSE with FORMAL assignments which require proper use of the English language.

Everything will be done on the web ... there will be no "live" class periods. The course has been designed to be "asynchronous"; you are not required to be present on-line at any specific times. You work at your own pace, within reason. This allows students to arrange the course around their schedule, and not have to arrange their schedule around the course. I will be available on-line, usually for a few hours a week, in the Biology Chatroom that can be reached from the Course Materials page; these times will be posted on the Announcement page. There is also a "Video Conference" link on the Course Materials page; this link provides a one-way video feed from my office and a chat box. You can often contact me through this link; use the chat box on this page to send a message to see if I am available (the camera is usually pointed at the door to my office instead of at me).

Students taking web-based courses should be aware of the commitment they are making. Students work on course materials as their schedule permits. This requires that the student be very organized and self-motivated. Because of the freedom associated with the course, some students are not successful because they tend to procrastinate and do not set up a regular schedule for working on class assignments. Even though the student is allowed to work at their own pace, they must be aware that certain deadlines are established in the course which must be observed.

Students taking web-based courses must be "self-starters". You do not have formal class meetings during which the instructor will remind you to complete assignments and provide other encouragement or incentives to do the assignments.

Web-courses typically require as much time as a classroom-based course. They are NOT easier or less time consuming. They do allow you to fit the course to your schedule. You should anticipate spending 3-6 hours a week on the assignments of a 3 credit hour course during the typical semester. The length of a summer term is one-third the length of a regular semester, so you should anticipate spending 3x the time-commitment during a summer term.

Ideally, the workload of a web course is identical to a classroom-based course. In reality, successful students find that the workload is often greater. You will find that assignments and activities have been developed for web-based courses to replace the classroom interaction of traditional courses. These assignments require extra time commitments on the part of the student and the instructor. DO NOT assume that because a course is web-based that it is easier and requires less time than its classroom-based counterpart. The opposite is true.

You can log into the course materials at any time; you work at your own pace. To keep things organized, the material will be presented in 15 Units; you should plan to complete a unit each week during a regular semester or 3 units each week during a 5-week summer term. Each unit of course material is written so that it will provide you with what I usually cover in "live" lectures and handouts. No textbook is needed. One unit will be opened for access each week during a regular semester; initially, I will open two units at the beginning a semester. During a summer term, all units are accessible from the beginning of the term. This will allow you to work ahead if desired and even complete the course early. Typically, you should anticipate that each unit of material will take about 3 hours to cover, on average. Again, you progress through the materials at your own pace. But, do not fall behind the unit per week pace (3 units per week during the summer) because it is often difficult to catch up if you get too far behind. In an attempt to keep students moving through the course material at a similar pace to allow for interactions in the bulletin boards/forums, the exams are scheduled for specific periods of time throughout the semester (they can be taken at any time during the short summer terms). You should complete all assignments, such as Critical Thinking questions, Discussion/Participation submissions, and Real-World Biology abstracts, in the units leading up to the exam prior to taking an exam.

At this time, no textbook is required. All the course materials is found on the webpages provided.

Yes, you can work at your own pace ... within reason. You can fit the work required by the course into your schedule; but this doesn't mean you work on the course every couple of weeks. You must work on the course every week to be successful. You might find time on Mondays at 1 AM to devote to the course, but you should devote time EACH week to the course. If a conflict prevents your work on the course for a week, make sure that you spend extra time the following week to catch-up; or time the preceding week to work ahead. Working at your own pace DOES NOT mean postponing work on your assignments until the last week of the course and trying to complete everything within the last few days.

You should register for the course in the same manner as you register for any other course. When you are registered, the Registrar's office enters you into "Banner", the University's database system. A few days before the semester begins, the students are entered into the course delivery system's database and usernames/passwords are generated. At that time, I send out e-mails to the students who are enrolled. I use the e-mail address that the University has on file. If you are unsure about what e-mail address the University has on file or wish to use a different e-mail address, you can fill out the form found on the course description page that is listed in the Course Schedule. From that course description page, you will find an on-line description of the course and a link to a form entitled "Request Username and Password for Course". This form requests some basic information including an e-mail address to which the "startup" e-mail message will be sent.

The Office of Distance Learning sends out a form letter and CD to students enrolled in web-based courses. The CD provides a copy of a web-browser. You do not need this CD to take the course unless you do not have a web-browser on your computer. You can use any web browser through any internet service provider (ISP) to access the course materials. I repeat, you DO NOT have to use the software on the CD that you may have been sent by the Office of Distance Learning. But, through previous experience, it appears that Firefox version 2 or later is the best web-browser to use. The quizzes, exams, etc. use forms. Early versions of Netscape and all but the very latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer have "bugs" that can cause problems with many forms used here and elsewhere on the Internet. So, I would suggest that you use Netscape, Firefox, Opera, or Mozilla if possible; Firefox version 2 is very stable, is free and has many add-ons that increases it's functionality. If you have problems with your web-browser, e-mail me with your mailing address and I will send you a copy of the latest version of Netscape, Firefox, Opera, or Mozilla on a CD-ROM.  Netscape, Firefox, Opera, or Mozilla should work without any problems no matter what Internet provider you are using.  Browsers provided by some Internet Service Providers (especially AOL) are very "buggy" and often cause problems with accessing sites on the Internet; again Firefox version 2 appears to be the most stable web-browser at this time.

Working at your own speed means that you can take 3 hours to complete a unit of material or take 6 hours, depending on your needs. But, you are expected to work on the course on a regular basis, not postpone completing assignments until immediately before an exam or until the end of the course. During a typical semester, you are required to complete all assignments in one unit of the course each week. During a summer term, you should complete all assignments in 3 units of the course each week. Some activities are designed to promote interactions between students taking the course. If you are not completing the course in a timely manner, your lack of participation is depriving other students of the interactions afforded by the course. Thus, if you decide not to complete the assignments in a timely manner, your grade is penalized and I will take steps that will allow the students who are completing their assignments as required not to be impacted by your lack of participation in the course. 

You can use any web browser through any internet service provide to access the course materials. You DO NOT have to use the software on the CD that you may have been sent by the Office of Distance Learning. But, through previous experience, it appears that Netscape version 4.0 or later is the best web-browser to use. The quizzes, exams, etc. use forms. Early versions of Netscape and all but the very latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer have "bugs" that can cause problems with many forms used here and elsewhere on the Internet. So, I would suggest that you use Netscape if possible; version 7.2 is very stable; version 8.02 is the latest version available. If you have problems with your web-browser, e-mail me with your mailing address and I will send you a copy of the latest version of Netscape on a CD-ROM (it is about 18 megabytes so it takes a long time to download over a modem). Netscape should work without any problems no matter what Internet provider you are using. Browsers provided by some Internet Service Providers (especially AOL) are very "buggy" and often cause problems with accessing sites on the Internet; again Netscape version 4.0 or later appears to be the most stable web-browser at this time.

PDF is the abbreviation coined by Adobe Software that stands for Portable Data Format. This data format is intended as a universal data format that allows for documents to be accessed on any computer system. PDF files can be accessed using a free software program called "Adobe Reader" or "Adobe Acrobat Reader". Most computers have this software installed; many software packages that you may have purchased automatically loads this software on your computer because the instruction manuals for the software are distributed in this format. Most web-browsers automatically install a "plug-in" so that PDF files access over the web can be viewed from within the web-browser. If your computer does not have Acrobat Reader, you can download and install this software. You will find the free version of the software on the Adobe website at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html

An "Incomplete Grade" can be assigned to provide a modest amount of time for completion of a course. University regulations state that an Incomplete Grade should only be assigned if a substantial portion of the course has been completed and a modest amount of additional time is required to complete a limited number of assignments. Incomplete grades are not intended for students who postpone working on the course throughout the semester/term and suddenly realize that they will not have enough time to complete the course during the final days before the end of the semester/term. If unforeseen circumstances prevent you from working on the course for an extended period of time, you should contact the instructor AT THAT TIME to inform the instructor of the circumstances. DO NOT wait until the end of the term to provide excuses concerning why you have not completed assignments due weeks/months before.

You should e-mail the instructor with your request for an Incomplete Grade about 1-2 weeks before the end of the semester. Do not wait until the last few days of the semester to make your request. In your request, you should provide an explanation of why you have not completed the course assignments. You should provide a date for completion of the course assignments. Current Incomplete Grade forms require a date by which all assignments will be complete; most instructors prefer that the student provide this date instead of setting an arbitrary deadline.

You should provide a date by which you will complete the course assignments in your request for an Incomplete Grade in the course. Typically, a few weeks of extra time is granted; at the most, instructors may allow to the end of the following semester/term. Longer time periods are rarely granted.

ISU has tightened the regulations concerning incompletes to address past abuses of the system.  As stated in ISU regulations, incompletes are for VERY short periods of time to allow for a FEW late assignments to be IMMEDIATELY submitted after the last day of the course.  The MAJORITY of the assignments in a course MUST have been submitted to be considered for an incomplete.

If you have familiarity with e-mail and the web, you are aware of "unwritten rules" concerning how you communicate with others. Written communications can be more easily miss-interpreted because verbal communication presents clues through the tone of voice and body language. There are over 32,000 pages on the web that discuss the e-mail and web "etiquette". If you are new to the web and e-mail, it is wise to read a few of these. A few examples are:

http://clarendon.globalnetlink.com/NETIQUETTE/netiquet.htm 
http://www.t2mn.com/articles/email.html 
http://web.nwe.ufl.edu/writing/help/email/etiquette.html 
http://www.adelaide.edu.au/ITD/Email/staff-etiquette.htm 
http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/gmead/etiquete.htm 
http://www.path.unimelb.edu.au/it/email/etiquette.html 
http://www.ideacafe.com/fridge/email/diplomacy.html 
http://www.med.sc.edu:81/CCR/Etiquette.htm 
http://a-s.clayton.edu/krobinson/etiquett.htm 
http://www.techonemedia.com/lincolnnet/email_etiquette.htm 
http://dekalb.dc.peachnet.edu/~jbenson/csci1401/email/sld013.htm 

When submitting assignments, you should use proper English.  This is a University-level course and you are submitting formal assignments in the course.

Written assignments should not be submitted in ALL capital letters.  All capital letters are difficult to read.  I will capitalized individual words/phrases, use bold or highlighted words, or other methods to emphasize information in responses/follow-ups.  This is done to emphasize information/points which appears to be overlooked or not comprehended.  My responses are concise; I read all submission.  I provide feedback if there are any problem/deficiency in any submission so that students can redo/ rewrite/ resubmit the assignment to receive credit for the assignment.  This does not allow time to praise or compliment students who provide satisfactory submission because time is used to provide feedback so that students are able to make the corrections required to receive maximum points for their assignments; some students interpret this as being "rude", "over-critical", "mean", "hostile", "abrasive", "offensive" or "unfriendly": IF I wished to be "rude", or "offensive" or "abrasive" I am VERY capable of being such and there would be NO mistake with the interpretation.  

Praises and compliments do not provide students with feedback that allows them to correct and resubmit assignments to improve their learning and grade in the course.   University-level students should be able to accept and learn from the feedback provided and not require constant praise and compliments to motivate them to do the work required in the course.

This is a university course.  When taking a university course, it is an academic setting.  Faculty teaching a course should be addressed by their academic title.

EXAMS

The exams are on-line. You do not have to go to a location where the exams are given and proctored?

Four times during the course, you will take on-line exams. You should take each exam when you complete the units preceding the exam link on the Course Material's page schedule. You should complete all assignments leading up to the exam prior to taking the exam. Check the schedule on the Course Materials page to see the two week period when the exam(s) should be taken. The exams should be taken individually; they are NOT "group" efforts (yes, the server tracks when and where the exams are accessed). You will only be able to take the exam once. Do not access the exam before you are ready to take it. The exams are timed; you will have an hour to do the exam. A clock is provided on the exam web page so that you know how long you have been working on the exam. After the hour (60 min), you will be penalized. One point will be deducted for each minute over 60 minutes that you use. So when you take the exam, set aside an hour in which you will not be disturbed; do not worry because the exams can be completed within 60 minutes if you are familiar with the course material presented. You can only take the exam once. When you click on the Submit button, it will send the exam to me to be graded; the grades will be posted in the on-line gradebook within a few days of taking the exam. If you lose your Internet connection during an exam, do not worry. DO NOT close your web page containing the exam. Just reconnect to the Internet and hit the submit button when you have completed the exam.

Now for a little information about the style of the exam. From past experience, the following format appears to work well and will be used during this semester:

     40 multiple choice style questions worth 2 points each for 80 points
     2 short-answer/essay-style questions worth 10 points each for 20 points

The exam will be worth 100 points. The multiple choice questions will be the same style as the quizlets you take in each unit. For the short-answer/essay-style questions, you will be provided with a box on the exam webpage, beneath the question, where you can type your answer. The box will scroll so you have as much space as you need to write your answer. The short answer questions are written so that you should be able to answer MOST of them (but not all) in a short paragraph of a few sentences ... you do not need to write a "book". The short-answer questions ask for specific information, so keep to the point -- be concise but be complete.

When you click on the exam link/button on the Course Materials page, it will take you to an Exam Starter page. This page provides blanks for your LAST NAME and you UNIVERSITY ID #. Fill in these blanks and then click on the BEGIN button. The clock doesn't start on your hour for the exam until you click BEGIN; this page acts as a buffer in case you accidentally click the Exam link on the Course Materials page. The BEGIN button takes you to the exam. When the exam page comes up, the clock begins and I am notified that you have started taking the exam. You will see the clock which tells you when you began the exam and how much time you have spent on the exam (minutes:seconds) in the upper right corner of the exam page. You can scroll back to the top of the page at any time to see how much time you have used. When 60 minutes are up, if you haven't finished, a Warning Box will pop-up warning you that you have used 60 minutes and the point per minute penalty has started. You will have to click OK in the Warning box to get rid of the Warning.

When you complete the exam, click the Submit button at the bottom of the page. If you have not answered a question, you will be told which question you did not answer. You must answer all questions to Submit the exam. This is a safety precaution so that you cannot accidentally submit the exam before you get a chance to answer the questions. Remember, if you lose your Internet connection during an exam, do not worry. DO NOT close your web page containing the exam. Just reconnect to the Internet and hit the Submit button when you have completed the exam.

If you are using the dial-up lines provided by ISU to connect, you already know that they are often congested (especially late afternoon and evenings) and disconnect you every 2 hours. If you do have problems, let me know.

No. You should study the material just as you would for any other exam. The exams are timed; if you are not familiar with the material you do not have the time to look up answers to the question.

The four exams taken during the course provide about 40% of the total points earned during the course. About 60% of the grade depends on other assignments made throughout the course. This should assist students who suffer from "test anxiety".

During the Fall or Spring semester, you will find dates on the exam buttons provided in the schedule available on the Course Materials page. The exams should be taken in the approximately two-week period provided. During the 5-week summer term, there are no specific dates suggested for the exams; you should progress through the materials and take an exam each week in order to complete the course within the 5-week term.

Another "problem" that has been encountered is the time-out/lost connection that can occur if you are using some Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Some ISPs monitor activity of your modem connection to their service. If no activity is seen for a specific period of time (often 20-30 minutes), the ISP disconnects you. This can sometimes cause problems, especially on exams. When you are filling out the form used for an exam, nothing is sent back to the server until you complete the exam and click the Submit button. If you use Eudora or some other e-mail program that automatically checks your mail every few minutes, you can start your e-mail program running to check your mail in the background so that your ISP sees activity on your connection while you are working on the exam form or reading a long web page. This will help maintain your modem connection during these periods that your ISP may interpret as inactive times.

If you have any problems with an exam or with submitting an exam, you should contact the instructor IMMEDIATELY.  Send an e-mail stating the problem.  Exam security is taken very seriously.

Exams in the courses consist of:

     40 multiple choice style questions worth 2 points each for 80 points
     2 short-answer/essay-style questions worth 10 points each for 20 points

The short-answer/essay-style questions have to be graded by hand. As a result, it may take a couple of days to grade the exams depending on when you take the exam; remember there are others who are taking the course and there are other assignments that must be graded by hand. I attempt to grade the exams and post the scores in the on-line gradebook as quickly as possible.

There are other students taking the course. Students take the exam at different times. Tests are not returned and I do not provide the answers to what you missed on an exam to prevent the answers from an exam from being passed to students who have not taken the exam yet.

When the web-based courses were developed, the inability to provide students with feedback concerning what they missed on an exam was considered and determined to be part of the learning process. Since other students may not have taken an exam, I cannot provide you with information on what you missed on an exam or what the correct answer is. As students take an exam, they are aware of what questions for which they do not know the answers. As part of the learning process in the web-based courses, it is felt that it is part of the student's obligation to review material related to questions that the student felt they missed on the exam. Returning exams may be a valid option in a classroom based course where all students take the exam at the same time, but it is not possible in web-based courses where students take the exams at different times.

The server provides considerable information concerning the exam process that is related to exam security; this information will not be discussed so that there will be no temptation to attempt to "outsmart" the security. It is realized that some students will use the opportunity of taking a web-based exam to use books, notes, or other resources even though their use is prohibited. If a student attempts to look up answers, they will not have enough time to complete the exam. Additionally, the server tracks all accesses to the materials so a student's effort to search through the course material during the exam is easily detected.  We are confident that the security measures work and have caught several students who have violated exam policies.

QUIZLETS

Quizlets are small multiple choice quizzes. There are 3 quizlets with 5 multiple choice questions in each unit. These are pop-up quizzes (click on a Quizlet button and it will pop up in a small separate window). These allow you to see whether you are "getting-the-lecture"; they are simple multiple choice questions and are basically "open book". They are graded automatically and will tell you how many you got right as soon as you submit the quizlet. You get 5 points for each quizlet.

Quizlets are intended as "EASY POINTS". The quizlets allow you to determine whether you are understanding what is presented and help build your "confidence" for the exams. You can retake these quizlets as many times as you wish to get the maximum points. The scores from the quizlets are automatically posted in the on-line gradebook that is available from the Help/Utilities page. 

The points earned from the quizlets is about 20% of the total points available in the course.

One thing to remember, at the top of each quizlet you are asked for your name and ID number; NOTE - the ID number is important for proper entry of the score into the on-line gradebook. The ID number that is used is your 9 digit ISU ID number (begins with 991xxxxxx) without hyphens, spaces or other punctuation; just the 9 digits.  If you enter any other number or anything else in the ID number space, the grade will not automatically be entered into the on-line gradebook. But the grade is not lost. The information/score is also written to another file and I can retrieve the score and enter it by-hand into the on-line gradebook; retrieving the score by hand is a time consuming process and is only performed on very rare occasions.

If you click on a quizlet button and do not see the quizlet pop up, check behind the main web-browser window; you probably left a previous quizlet window open and the new quizlet is "hiding" in the previously-opened quizlet window behind your main web-browser window.

The quizlets were designed as a study aid. They allow you to determine whether you have obtained sufficient detail from the course material that you have just read. If you received a low score, you can go back and review the last section of material and retake the quizlet to determine whether your comprehension of the material has improved. You are allowed to retake the quizlets as often as you wish. Although some students will retake the quizlets and guess at the answers, this defeats the purpose of the quizlets and does not benefit the student in the long term (questions on the material may be on the exams).

Yes, you can retake the quizlets as many times as you wish. Only your last score on a quizlet is posted in the online gradebook

CTQ or CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS

Critical Thinking is the basic concept that General Education courses are designed to develop in students; General Education courses are NOT designed to make students experts in the field of the specific course.  But the ability to apply the fundamental ability to THINK CRITICALLY is a skill which General Educations courses are designed to develop in students.

These are questions intended to make you think and discuss the information in the course. The questions are designed so that some of them do not have "right" or "wrong" answers ... you give your opinion and/or analysis of a question or problem ... in other words, these questions are intended to make you think about what we have just covered in that unit of the course.  

MOST of the questions require you to use facts that you have learned in the unit to formulate responses.  Even these questions may have multiple, valid responses depending on the facts that are used to formulate the response; you should include the facts that you used in these responses to show how you arrived at your conclusions.  

A few of the Critical Thinking Questions have a single valid response; these questions test your comprehension of the material covered in the unit.  The links for these questions are within the units but you can go directly to the "Critical Thinking Bulletin Board" from the link on the Course Materials page.

These are NOT "What-Can-I-Google-On-The-Web" questions. These are Critical THINKING Questions.  You are REQUIRED to use the material PRESENTED IN THIS COURSE and THINK. You are to submit YOUR THOUGHTS based on the material presented in this course, NOT what someone else thinks.

Each of the 15 Units of the course has a Critical Thinking question. Each question is worth 10 points. Thus, you can earn 150 points for your CTQ responses. This is about 15 percent of your total course grade.

The links for these questions are within the units but you can go directly to the "Critical Thinking Bulletin Board" from the link on the Course Materials page. For each unit there will be a new Critical Thinking question posted on the Critical Thinking Forum that you can access from the Course Materials page. Click on the question that I post, read the question, then click on the "Post Followup" link that you find at the top and/or bottom of the page containing the question that I posted. A form will appear for you to write your response. When you finish, click the Submit button and your response will be posted. You will automatically return to the Critical Thinking Forum and you will see your posting beneath the original question.

You should complete the Critical Thinking question for a Unit when you complete the material for that Unit.

The material in a Unit is related to the CTQ asked in that unit. You should submit your response to the CTQ while the unit is fresh in your mind. Also, other students will read your response and may comment on what you have submitted. Commenting on the CTQ submissions of other students provides Discussion/Participation opportunities for the student; and D/P points.

Some of these questions are designed so that they do not have "right" or "wrong" answers while others require an analysis of facts presented in this course.  Submission must in in proper English and address the specific questions asked. You can comment on other students opinions/answers but do not get into personal attacks ... keep it civil.

CTQ and D/P submissions have to be read and graded "by hand". This process can take a few days; it can be further delayed during busy times such as test periods.

If you do not see the scores for CTQ or D/P assignments after a few days, look at the Bulletin Board on which you posted your assignment.  If there was any problem/deficiency with your submission I post a follow-up stating the problem/deficiency.  The follow-ups are NOT new questions.  They are statements of problems/deficiencies in the submission.  You are REQUIRED to provide a satisfactory response to the ORIGINAL CTQ that was asked to receive points for the assignment; if your submission is not satisfactory, then you receive no points.

Read the follow-up that states the problems/deficiencies with what you have submitted, RE-READ the original CTQ and then THINK.  You should then provide an additional follow-up addressing the ORIGINAL CTQ based on the additional insight obtained from the comments/ questions/ statements which were provided in my follow-up.

What you submit as a response to a follow-up should be a COMPLETE response to the original CTQ, NOT just random statements that you feel address the specific problems/deficiencies/questions/comments that were stated in my follow-up.  You are responsible for providing a complete response to the original CTQ which was asked.  My follow-ups are statements of problems/deficiencies which you MUST consider when you are RE-DOING your COMPLETE response for the original CTQ which was asked.

Making solitary statements as a follow-up is NOT satisfactory as a resubmission.  You are required to re-write your ENTIRE original submission and submit it as a follow-up after considering the problems/deficiencies which have been pointed out in my follow-up to your previous submission.

When you have provided a satisfactory response to the Critical Thinking Question which was asked, you will receive credit for the assignment.  Again, no credit is received until a satisfactory response is submitted.  This is a LEARNING process designed to develop the student's ability to THINK CRITICALLY.  

Typically, it takes a couple of days to grade these assignments depending on how many students are submitting assignments at that time of the course.

The assignments have been designed to stimulate discussion and interactions between the students in the course. Over the years that the course(s) have been taught, I have found that the easiest way to limit or stop discussion is to become involved in the discussion. Students have a tendency to believe that whatever the instructor says in these discussions is the one and only correct answer; thus the discussion stops when the instructor becomes involved. Because of this, I avoid becoming involved in the discussion unless it gets out-of-control. Sometimes I will post a question or comment to move the discussion back on topic, but I try to avoid avoid becoming involved in the discussion because the instructor's involvement tends to squelch the discussion.  If a response to a CTQ is incomplete or the student appears not to understand what is asked, follow-up responses are posted to try to clarify what the question is asking.  These follow-up posting are usually in the form of leading question intended to steer the student toward a valid response to the question or to request clarification of points made by the student.  These follow-up responses are to allow the student to rethink their response and post further information that will improve the grade on the assignment.

Comments are posted if there is a deficiency/problem with the response/answer you posted to a CTQ.  These comments cite any problems/deficiencies in your response/answer.  You are REQUIRED to address/respond to the problems/deficiencies cited in my followup in order that you can receive credit for the assignment.

D/P or DISCUSSION/PARTICIPATION

Discussion/Participation assignments are intended to promote interaction and discussion between the students in the course concerning topics related to the course. These assignments are designed to allow student interactions similar to those experienced in a classroom setting. You will get points for "participating" by responding to other students' Critical Thinking questions and/or RWB abstracts. You read what other students have submitted and comment on what they have said. You can get 10 points per unit for commenting on another student's CT or RWB submissions (or responding to another student's comments about your original posting in the CTQ or RWB forums). You should respond to another student's CTQ or RWB submission in each unit.

Each of the 15 Units of the course has a Discussion/Participation assignment. Each assignment is worth 10 points. Thus, you can earn 150 points for your D/P assignments. This is about 15 percent of your total course grade.

You should read the responses of other students to a CT question or read the RWB abstracts submitted by other students. On the web page containing the submission by the other student, you will find a link to Post Followup at the top and bottom of the page. Click on the Post Followup link and you will see a form in which you can type your response to your classmate's submission. Once you have typed your response, click on the Submit button and wait until you are taken back to the Bulletin Board (this can take a couple of seconds up to a minute depending on your internet connection).

You should respond to one or more of your classmates' CTQ or RWB submission in each unit. Your response MUST be more than "I agree" or "I disagree"; this is a Discussion/Participation assignment so you must DISCUSS what your classmates have stated in their postings.  If you agree or disagree, provide arguments to support your agreement/disagreement; repeating statements that the other student made is NOT providing support for agreement/disagreement. If you do not understand something the classmate has stated, as questions to clarify what you do not understand. Discuss what the other student said. One "No-No" is allowing the discussions to degenerate into personal attacks; you can attack the ideas based on fact but not on personal issues or personalities.

Your comments represent you; your classmates get to know you from your postings. Take care in writing your submissions. Use complete sentences, correct grammar, and correct spelling. Often in web-based courses, only impression that your classmates form about you are through what they read in your postings.

You should complete your D/P assignment for a Unit before you move on to the next unit. These are assignments associated with a particular unit so do the assignment as part of the unit.

You should discuss the material associated with the unit while the material is "fresh" in your mind. Also, other students read your submission and comment on them as part of their D/P assignment. If you postpone submission, you may forget about the submission and if it is very late in the course when you remember to complete the assignment, you may be penalized for submitting the assignment late. When you are not participating, other students do not have submissions to discuss.

You can comment on other students opinions/answers but do not get into personal attacks ... keep it civil. One "No-No" is allowing the discussions to degenerate into personal attacks; you can attack the ideas based on fact but not on personal issues or personalities. And please remember, your comments represent you; your classmates get to know you from your postings. Take care in writing your submissions. Use complete sentences, correct grammar, and correct spelling. Often in web-based courses, only impression that your classmates form about you are through what they read in your postings.

If there was a RWB assignment in the Unit, you can receive D/P points for commenting on a RWB abstract submitted by another student. Since RWB assignments are made in 7 of the 15 units, you can receive D/P points for commenting on RWB abstracts in those 7 units.

The assignments have been designed to stimulate discussion and interactions between the students in the course. Over the years that the web-based course(s) have been taught, I have found that the easiest way to limit or stop discussion is for the instructor to become involved in the discussion. Students have a tendency to believe that whatever the instructor says in these discussions is the one and only correct answer; thus the discussion stops when the instructor becomes involved. Because of this, I avoid becoming involved in the discussion unless it gets out-of-control. Sometimes I will post a question or comment to move the discussion back on topic, but I try to avoid avoid becoming involved in the discussion because the instructor's involvement tends to squelch the discussion.

Comments are posted if there is a deficiency/problem with the response you posted to as D/P.  These comments cite any problems/deficiencies in your response.  You are required to respond to the problems/deficiencies cited in order that you can receive credit for the assignment.  What you submit as a response to a follow-up should be a COMPLETE response, NOT just random statements that you feel address the specific problems/deficiencies/questions/comments that were stated in my follow-up.  Making solitary statements as a follow-up is NOT satisfactory as a resubmission.  You are required to re-write your ENTIRE original submission/discussion and submit it as a follow-up after considering the problems/deficiencies which have been pointed out in my follow-up to your previous submission.

RWB or REAL WORLD BIOLOGY ABSTRACTS

Real World Biology abstracts are intended to get you to think about biology and relate biology to your everyday life. These are intended to get you to "talk and think biology".

Seven times during the course (in every other unit), you will find a button in the unit to submit a "Real World Biology" abstract. These are short abstracts (about 300 or more words) on any article related to biology that you find in your daily newspaper, magazines, scientific journals or other sources. You MUST submit a CITATION for the article (author, title, date, source including volume and pages) along with your 2-3 paragraph synopsis of the article. If you are using an electronic/internet article, you must submit an appropriate citation for the article; the citation must reflect the fact that the source of the article was from an electronic/internet source and not the printed version of the article.

Abstracts must be entirely in your own words.  Use of sentences or phrases from the original article is not acceptable.  Changing a few words or other slight modifications does NOT make the sentences/phrases your own.  Plagerizm is not tolerated and has very severe penalties as stated in the ISU Code of Student Conduct.

Abstracts must be entirely in your own words.  Quotes from the original article are NOT acceptable unless there is absolutely NO way to state something essential for the understanding of the original article in your own words.  This prevents students from cutting and pasting quotes from the original article in order to generate an abstract without understanding the content and facts of the original article.

In 7 of the 15 units of the course you will be asked to submit a Real World Biology abstract. Each abstract is worth up to 20 points. Thus, you can earn 140 points for your RWB abstracts. This is almost 15 percent of your total course grade.

The abstract is due when you complete the unit in which the RWB abstract is assigned.  RWB assignments are made in odd-numbered units.

To post your RWB abstract, go to the Real World Biology forum from the link on the Course Materials page. Click the "Post a Message" link at the top of the page; you will be presented with a form in which to write your citation and abstract. You can read what others in the class submit by clicking on the RWB link on the Course Materials page. You can comment on their article by clicking on the "Post Follow-ups" link provided at the bottom of the page with their message/abstract (you get points for discussing other student's submissions - see Discussion/Participation below).

You must post the abstract and the citation in the form that is provided from the "Post a Message" link.  I NEVER read attachments and do NOT require other students to read attachments. Not all students have the same software for opening attachments. Attachments can contain VIRUSES, MACROS, or other malware which can damage the computer of the reader.

Articles from your daily newspaper, magazines, scientific journals or other legitimate sources are acceptable. Many of these publications have web sites which may be used. You should not use electronic/internet/web sites generated by individuals, commercial companies or other non-journalistic concerns. 

All articles MUST be from legitimate publications.  Legitimate publications undergo editorial and peer review to insure the accuracy of the information.   Abstracts of letters to the editor or editorials are not appropriate since they do not undergo editorial and peer review.

Articles should be current; articles that are more than 5 years old often contain out-of-date information.

If an article is from an electronic source, it must be a source which is available to all students at ISU.  The ISU library has multiple databases which provide access to many online publications.  URLs which allow access to these articles can be accessed by any ISU student.  There are millions of articles from legitimate sources which are available in print or electronic form.  Articles which are only accessible from electronic sites which require personal subscriptions or passwords are NOT acceptable.

A citation is the source of the article. The information in a citation provides other people with all the necessary information required to locate the article. The citation must contain the Author, Date, Title of the article, Name of the publication, Volume/Issue of the publication, Page numbers on which the article was found.

A citation for an electronic/internet/web article must contain the author, date, title of the article, and a URL/web address that will take interested persons directly to the article; not just the address for the main website which may contain thousands of webpages that would have to be searched to find the article you abstracted. The UT library provides several guides for citing electronic/internet/web publications at:

 http://www.lib.utexas.edu/pcl/citations/index.html 

You should be very careful when you use electronic sources for article. Hundreds of new websites appear each day and hundreds disappear. You should only use articles from electronic sources that you are sure will be there months or years from now.

First you read an article. Then you write an abstract. The abstract is a summary of what you read. The abstract is in your own words. If you quote anything from the original article, make sure you enclose the quote in quote marks or you will have plagerized material from the original article. 

Abstracts are YOUR interpretation of what was said in the article.  Provide appropriate details, in your own words, that led the author to their conclusion. You can include your interpretation of the article and whether you agree or disagree with the author, but include why you agree or disagree.

Abstracts should be about 300 or more words in length. This is the MINIMUM that has been established for abstracts of all kinds in all disciplines.  The abstract MUST be of sufficient length to provide a complete analysis of the facts presented in the article.  If you are counting words just to get an abstract that exceeds the minimum requirement, do not be surprised if the abstract is not acceptable.  

Your abstract can be longer if you desire; sometimes you might feel that the author's views are not correct and you may wish to include a few paragraphs rebutting the author's views. Or, you may wish to relate how the information provided in the article is relevant to you.

Other students can read your RWB abstract and submit a discussion/participation response to your abstract. IMPORTANT: DO NOT wait until the end of the course to submit your RWB abstracts; waiting till the end of the course to submit your abstracts does not allow other students an opportunity to comment on your submissions. If you wait till late in the course to submit your abstracts that were due in units assigned early in the course, points may be deducted for late assignments. You can submit your RWB abstracts early in the course; some students submit all of the RWB abstracts at the beginning of the course so they do not have to worry about completing these later.

You are required to provide corrections/additions for any problems/deficiencies which have been cited in any follow-ups by the instructor to your submission.  Are there any follow-ups from the instructor that you have not responded to?

Did you submit a complete citation that included the Author, Date, Title of the article, Name of the publication, Volume/Issue of the publication, Page numbers on which the article was found? If not, points were deducted.

If the article was from an electronic/internet/web publication, did you include the URL/web address that will take someone interested in the article directly to the article? If not, points were deducted.

Is your abstract about 300 or more words in length? If not, points were deducted.

Was the RWB abstract submitted before or immediately after the unit was completed in which the RWB abstract was assigned? If you postponed submitting your abstract until near the end of the course, you may not receive full credit for your submission.

I will often post a follow-up to a RWB submission when the submission is not complete (incomplete citation or insufficient abstract). But, the assignment is designed to stimulate discussion and interactions between the students in the course. Over the years that the web-based course(s) have been taught, I have found that the easiest way to limit or stop discussion is for the instructor to become involved in the discussion. Students have a tendency to believe that whatever the instructor says in these discussions is the one and only correct answer; thus the discussion stops when the instructor becomes involved. Because of this, I avoid becoming involved in the discussion unless it gets out-of-control. Sometimes I will post a question or comment to move the discussion back on topic, but I try to avoid avoid becoming involved in the discussion because the instructor's involvement tends to squelch the discussion. 

ON-LINE GRADEBOOK

You will find a link to the online gradebook on the Help/Utilities page. The WebGrades gradebook is not integrated into the server application that delivers the rest of the course material. You have to log into the WebGrades gradebook separately; those instructions are on the Help/Utilities page. The scores from the quizlets are automatically entered into the WebGrade gradebook; you can view the scores in the gradebook within seconds of taking the quizlet. The Real-World-Biology, Critical Thinking, Discussion/Participation, and Exams have to be entered BY-HAND into the WebGrades system. It may take a day or two before you see the points for these activities appear in the WebGrades gradebook. I am working on ways to automate this but, so far, I still have to do this by-hand.

Please read the instructions for accessing the on-line gradebook that are provided after the link to the gradebook on the Help/Utilities page. These instruction tell you to use your ISU ID number (991xxxxxx) as the "username" and a class password for the "password"; your ISU ID number is 9-digits and does NOT contain any hyphens, dashes, spaces or other punctuation. The class password is provided in the text after the link on the Help/Utilities page.

The common error that is encountered is not entering the correct username/ID number and class password. This often results in "Access Denied". If you enter the correct class password but made an error in entering your ISU ID number (991xxxxxx), the data you see will be statistics for the entire class. If you do not see your name to the left of a row of grades, this is the error. Go back and re-enter your ISU ID (991xxxxxx) and class password. Remember that your ISU ID (991xxxxxx) is entered as 9-digits without spaces, hyphens, dashes or other punctuation.

When you examine the on-line gradebook, you will notice that there are some gray boxes. The gray boxes represent items for which there are no grades currently posted. As you progress through the course, the gray boxes are replaced with scores on the various items. Grey boxes are not calculated into the total grade for the course that is seen on the right side of the row of scores.

Periodically throughout the semester/term, I will add zeros to grade items that have not been completed. Typically during a semester, I will add zeros to incomplete items leading up to an exam near the end of the 2 week period provided for the exam; during a summer term, this is done about half-way through the five week term and during the middle of the final week of the summer term. This is done to prompt you into catching up if you are falling behind. This also provides you with a more accurate indication of where you stand in the course at that time. The zeros that I add will be replaced by the scores you earn on the assignments as you complete them. PLEASE do not wait till the last day(s) of the semester or the last couple of days before the close of an exam period to complete large numbers of the assignments; if large numbers of assignments are completed at the last minute, I become more critical in my grading.

Again, there is one point I should stress about the automatic gradebook entry from the quizlets. When you take a quizlet, you are asked for your name and ISU ID (991xxxxxx) at the top of each quizlet. The ID number information is essential for the automatic update to the on-line gradebook. Use your 9 digit ISU ID number (991xxxxxx). Enter the 9 digit number, without hyphens or other punctuation. Do not worry if you get the ID number wrong or something happens and the quizlet score doesn't appear in the gradebook immediately; all the information is also saved in a master file and I can go in and enter any missing information into the WebGrades gradebook by hand (this requires searching the server logs for the scores which is a time-consuming process).

COURSE EVALUATION

The course evaluation is a 12 question form that allows you to comment on the course. Ten of the questions are multiple choice and two questions allow you to write comments concerning the course. The course evaluations are anonymous and have no effect on your grade. The course evaluations are collected and processed by the server after the course is complete. The results or comments are not provided to the instructor until after the course is over.

Your responses are used for improvement of the course, thus your opinions are valued and do make a difference. If you like certain aspects of a course, say so; it may influence the development of other courses. If you think that web-courses are of value, say so; your input influences the development and offering of new web-based courses in the Department, College/School, and University. The opinions of students concerning the needs and experiences of students have great influence.

The course evaluations are anonymous and have no effect on your grade. The course evaluations are collected and processed by the server after the course is complete. The results or comments are not provided to the instructor until after the course is over.

The instructor uses the information provided by the evaluation to improve the courses they offer. The evaluations by students are included in the annual evaluation of each faculty member. The Departments use the evaluation to determine student needs and interest; your opinion can alter existing courses and influence new course offerings. Since web-based course offerings are relatively recent events in many Departments, your comments can have a major impact on whether new web-based course offerings will be available in the future.

Once a year, evaluations from all courses are forwarded to the Dean's of the Schools/Colleges. Your comments can impact the future direction of course development. This is especially true of web-based courses. There is significant concern about the quality and need for web-based course offerings. There is concern about the impact of web-based courses on the enrollment of traditional classroom-based courses; one recurring question is whether on-campus students should be allowed to take web-based course offerings. Your comments and opinions on this issues can have great influence; the course evaluations are the place to make your opinions heard.

 

 

© T.J. Mulkey, 1996-2003