Spring 2001 Course Guidelines

These guidelines establish specific requirements, grading criteria, description of exams and other key aspects of this course. Please make sure you read these guidelines carefully. It is your responsibility to make sure you understand and agree to what is required in this course. Note also that this entire course is conducted on a secure web site using WebCT courseware. You will be provided with the URL for the WebCT web site and your username/password on the first day of classes.


This course equates to three (3) lecture hours per week. It presents a survey of the geological, physical, chemical and biological principles of oceanography. This course examines how these processes interact to form a variety of habitats within the marine ecosystem. An overview is provided of the physical nature of these habitats, the distribution and characteristics of the organisms found within them and the oceanographic tools used to determine these properties. The interactions of humans with the marine environment is woven throughout.

Please be aware that this course is NOT the same course as Marine Biology. Oceanography encompasses physics, chemistry and geology, as well as biology. Equal time will be given to each of these topics during the semester; marine biology makes up about 25% of the course.

All college, district, state and federal policies, guidelines and regulations in effect for on-campus courses apply to this course. Students are urged to review the FC Catalog, especially with regards to Academic Honesty. Students are also reminded that alcohol and drugs are forbidden on campus and during all college activities and events, including those held off-campus. This policy applies to all field trips and expeditions offered as part of this course.

According to college guidelines, a student should expect to spend at least three (3) hours per week for each unit (1) of credit taken during a sixteen (16) week course. Thus, you may expect to dedicate at least 9 hours per week to this course (3 hours "in" class and 6 hours "outside" class). Realistically, you will need to spend a minimum of five (5) hours per week engaged in studying (not printing, surfing the web, chatting over IM, etc.) if you want to pass this course. Students are urged to review the suggestions provided in the FC Course Catalog concerning work load and class load.

Instructional objectives for this course have been established by the FC Earth Sciences Department, the FC Curriculum Committee, the FC Administration, the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) and the State of California. Every effort will be made to insure your success in meeting these objectives.

Materials Requirements


No textbook is required for the course. All the lectures notes are provided online. You are welcome to print them for your studies.

The story of the 3.5-inch floppy disk

Let me tell you a little story. In Spring 2000, a computer virus wiped out everything on my hard drive. Fortunately, I had backups. BUT...if I hadn't backed up everything, lots of important information would have been lost forever.

The moral of this story: SAVE EVERYTHING! Carry a 3.5-inch floppy disk that you can use at school, at your local cybercafe or at your parent's and friend's houses. If you don't have all of your work saved on a floppy disk, you are playing a most dangerous game. If you don't know how to save files to a floppy disk, please ask me or a fellow classmate. Get one. Use it. Carry it everywhere. Store it in a safe place. Send a backup copy to your cousin in Norway.

Self-Pacing: How It Works

Your course of studies this semester will not be the traditional, table-of-contents approach that you have been subjected to since the dawn of time. Rather, you will have some flexibility to determine not only when you study, but what you study. While you will be required to participate in the course throughout the semester (see Participation below), your course of studies can be tailored to your interests and your approach to learning.

Here's how it works:

  1. All students must complete the sections titled Let's Get Started and Ocean Science For Everyone! before they will be allowed to proceed in the course. These sections must be completed no later than 11:59 PM, February 28, 2001.
  1. Six other major topics will be available for study. They are:
  1. After you have completed the Let's Get Started and Ocean Science For Everyone! sections, you will have a choice over which of these other topics you wish to pursue. You will be required to complete four of six topics by the end of the semester.
  2. Successful completion of a topic means that you score 70% or greater on an exam for that section. If you fail to score 70% on the first exam of that section, you will be given additional study materials and be allowed to take a second exam. If you fail to score 70% on the second exam, you will be given more study materials and be allowed to take a third exam. If you fail to score 70% on the third exam, you may move forward to the next topic of your choice.
  3. Your points for any individual section will be based on the average of all the exams you take for that topic. You will not be allowed to take any additional exams within a topic after the third try. If you score 70% or greater on the first exam, that will be your score. If you score less than 70% on the first exam and greater than 70% on the second exam, your score will be the average of the two exams. If you take the third exam of a topic, your score will be the average of all three exams. If you desire to take two or three exams and have those scores averaged, you will be permitted to do so, even if you score 70% or greater on the first or second exam. Of course, if you fail the second and third tries, your average score will be diminished.
  4. You may drop the lowest score from one (1) topic if you complete five (5) topics or the low scores from two (2) topics if you complete all six (6) topics. Otherwise, all topics will be counted (i.e. if you complete only four topics.)
  5. Just to reiterate, you must successfully complete four topics. It's up to you to determine how long to spend on one topic before moving on or whether to switch between topics before attempting exams in a given topic. How you approach the course is your decision and part of the learning process. The best approach is to complete a topic at least every three weeks.
  6. You may proceed through the sections at your own pace BUT all work must be completed by 11:59 PM, Monday, May 21, 2001, which is the last day of classes.
  7. If you have any questions about how this works, please e-mail me or phone me. You are responsible for finishing the work that is required of you by the end of the semester. If you finish the two required topics and four of the other topics before the end of the semester and are satisfied with your grade, you may complete the course ahead of schedule.

Points and Grading Criteria

Grading in this course is based on a 1000-point scale. Please note the type and number of exams and assignments that are required for this course. Specific information on exams, assignments and requirements for the course can be found below.

Type of Evaluation
Number of points per evaluation
Number of evaluations
Total Points
Percentage (%) of Grade
Online Exams 100 6 600 60%
Individual Project 100 1 200 20%
Participation 20 10 200 20%
Total 1000 100%

Final Grade Determination

Your final grade will be determined on the basis of the following accumulation of points. Note that the percentages here may be stricter than what you normally encounter across our campus. The standards adopted here conform to generally accepted standards at four-year colleges and universities. The goal here is not to make the course harder; rather, the goal here is to help you achieve the level of work that should be expected of a college student.

Percentage (%) of Total Points
Minimum Points Needed for Grade
A 90% 900
B 80% 800
C 70% 700
D 60% 600
F <60% <600

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Rules of Conduct

The following rules are highly specific. Read them very carefully. Failure to follow these rules could result in crash or injury to your grade.

Course Announcements and Updates - Stay Alert!

Course announcements (such as those heard at the beginning of on-campus lecture classes) are e-mailed to your personal e-mail address through the Cybernauts subscribable mailing list. Please make sure you are properly subscribed to this mailing list or you will miss important information. The information provided through the Cybernauts mailing list will keep you current with everything that is happening in this course. In addition, you will find important dates and announcements in the Calendar, found in the Syllabus and Lecture Notes section of this web site. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail (no subject, no message, no signature) to students@oceansonline.com. You will receive a confirmation notice very shortly (within minutes) after subscribing. If you do not, then please make sure you have removed any signatures or stray marks in your e-mail and try again.

Sending E-mails

If you have any questions or comments, please send them to my personal e-mail address at drc@oceansonline.com. If they are questions of a general nature, I will respond to them through the mailing list. You may also post questions to the mailing list for everyone to see and respond or you may post them to the forum created for that purpose. We will not use the e-mail tool on the WebCT site.

Attachments - Don't send them!

Attachments are the number one vector for dangerous computer viruses. Please don't send them. I will delete them no matter what the subject or text of the e-mail says. Copy and paste your message into the body of the e-mail if you want to send me something.

Cheating - Don't Even!

Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Students are urged to review the Fullerton College policy on Academic Honesty. Any person or persons caught cheating will dropped from the course or receive an F for the course at a minimum. Additional disciplinary action, such as expulsion from the college,  will be pursued at the discretion of the instructor. Cheating includes but is not limited to:

If you are uncertain whether something you are doing may be considered cheating, ask me. Students are encouraged to form study groups, discuss material and help each other with material in the course. However, you must perform all of your own work and you must answer all exam questions on your own.

Extra Credit - Terms and Conditions

Some extra credit may be available in this course in the form of participation at seminars, field trips, web events or other activities at the discretion of the instructor. No more than 50 points of extra credit may be earned in the entire semester.

Types of Evaluation


Examinations test our retention and understanding of information, concepts and processes. Exams are an integral part of teaching and provide one of the best means for quantitatively evaluating student learning. Perhaps most importantly, exams allow you to demonstrate your ability to analyze problems, synthesize relevant information and communicate your ideas.

Exams in this course consist of the following:

Please read very carefully the description of these exams. This information will give you a very good idea of what's expected of you in this course.

Online Exams

Six (6) online exams will be required this semester. The six (6) online exams correspond to the two required topics and 4 of the 6 optional topics that you choose to study this semester. Each online exam is based on course material indicated in that topic. Each online exam is worth a maximum of 100 points.

Recall that you will have up to three chances to earn exam points within a topic. As stated above, you may take up to three online exams within each topic. However, your score will be averaged for all the exams you take within a topic. Be warned that the three online exams within a topic are not the same exam!

For any online exam, you may only take it once AND you will only have one hour to complete it from the moment you log in. You must be prepared for the exam before you decide to take it. Once you log in for the very first time, the clock starts ticking. If you are accidentally logged off, you must log back on immediately and continue with the exam. Anyone who takes more than one hour to submit the exam will receive a zero (0). There is no such thing as accidentally logging in to an exam, so if you choose to log in, make sure you are prepared to take it. If you don't take it, you will receive a zero (0) for that exam.

Exams will consist of a combination of the following:

To the extent possible, practice exams and a study guide will be available for all exams. If you do not understand what an exam will cover, please, by all means, contact me to clarify what is expected of you.

Final Exam

There will be no final exam in this course.

Individual Project

A critical part of your learning is getting experience doing real-life things. Sometimes, it means putting yourself out there and aggressively finding and pursuing an opportunity to get real-life experience. Real-life experience gives you more confidence to seek the kind of career you want in the future.

During the semester, you will be required to complete a project related to your studies of oceanography. These projects involve real-life, hands-on activities in cooperation with a government, private or non-profit agency. Possible projects include the following:

This project will require that you call the agency and make an apppointment to participate in their activities. If the agency you contact has no opportunity for you to participate, you must find another agency. Be creative. Go through the phone book or browse web sites and seek opportunities to become familiar with some operation that may interest you. Ask the agency if there is anything that you could volunteer to do that would help them. I am more than happy to help you identify potential agencies but I won't make the phone call or write the e-mail to contact them. That's up to you.

You are expected to devote no less than 8 hours to the activity itself. That means at least two half days or one full day of activity. The activities must be "real" activities, things that involve you in the operations of that agency. Activities that do not count include taking a tour, attending a meeting, participating in an activity as a participant but not an organizer (like picking up trash on the beach rather than helping the people who organize it) and other passive activities.

Once you have identified a potential activity, you must fill out the proposal form provided via e-mail by your instructor. You may not use someone else's proposal form. The idea here is to contact your instructor so we can discuss your project. Your proposal form is worth 50 points, which rewards you for setting up the activity.

Next, you must document your participation in the activity. You must provide some proof that you participated (a letter or note from someone within the agency) and you must provide a written description of the activity that you performed. An activity form will be provided via e-mail by your instructor. Your activity form is worth 100 points, which rewards you for conducting the activity.

Finally, you must write a 3-5 page paper of how the activity contributed to your understanding of oceanography. This account provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your experience. Specific details for writing the paper will be provided via e-mail by your instructor. You will receive 50 points for this paper.


While your studies of the course materials are self-paced, your participation in the course is not. Mandatory course participation accomplishes several purposes. It gives you that little boost you need each week to go online, i.e. it's a motivator. It gives you an opportunity to earn ten easy points each week so that you feel you are making progress in the course, i.e. it gives you self-confidence and self-pride. It creates a learning environment where you and your classmates can share similar experiences, both in terms of the content and the technology, i.e. it creates a sense of community. It helps you learn valuable skills for interacting with your classmates and instructors, i.e. it teaches you how to communicate. It helps you think about and consider more carefully the "big picture", i.e. it helps you relate your life and experiences to your studies. Finally, it's just plain fun and you can do it from anywhere!

Except for the first participation assignment and the two self-assessments, seven (7) of the participation topics will be created by you and your classmates. At the beginning of the semester, seven (7) groups will be randomly created and randomly assigned to each two-week participation period. Each group will collaborate via private forums, chat rooms and/or e-mail to create a topic for discussion. For the most part, you will be on your own. However, guidelines for creating a topic will be provided if necessary.

Every two weeks throughout the semester, discussion topics will be posted in the Forums section. You will be expected to respond to each of these discussion topics and to at least two of your classmates' response. Responses to the topics and your classmates must be substantive. Comments like "Cool, I agree" or "That's bogus" are not substantive comments. You must write at least 100 words in all of your responses to receive credit. Ten (10) points will be awarded for your response in the first week of the discussion of the topic and five (5) points each (for a total of ten points) will be awarded to your response to two of your classmate's responses in the second week of the discussion. More information on how to reply to and post messages can be found in the Forum Basics section in Let's Get Started.

Twenty (20) points will be awarded for each participation assignment. A total of ten (10) participation assignments will be required for a total of 200 points. Deadlines for each topic are posted in the Calendar although you can pretty much figure out the due dates by the listing of topics in the forum. All postings for a week are due by 11:59 pm on the Sunday of that week. You must meet the deadlines to receive points. There are absolutely no exceptions to my deadlines. If you forget to post something or have a problem that prevents you from posting, you lose the points.


At least two (2) of the participation assignments will be dedicated to self-assessment of your understanding and progress in the course. This self-assessment will be accomplished in three ways:

    1. completing an anonymous online survey in Week 5 and Week 10
    2. responding anonymously to self-assessment questions posted in the forums in Week 6 and Week 11
    3. e-mailing your self-assessment paragraphs to the instructor (that's how you get credit)

More information on self-assessments will be sent through the cybernauts mailing list. Deadlines for the self-assessment will be posted in the Course Calendar.

If you have any questions about this page, please feel free to contact me, schamberlin@fullcoll.edu or (714) 871-6730.