Summer 2001 Course Guidelines

(last updated: June 4, 2001, 09:15am, PDT)

Our course is conducted using WebCT, a courseware management program, hosted by the California Virtual Campus (CVC). Please e-mail me the first day of classes, June 4, 2001, for your username and password and further instructions about gaining access to the course.

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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.

Contents

General
Materials Requirements
Rules of Conduct
Two Paths to Go By...
What You Will Learn in this Course
A Plea from Your Instructor and Your College: Don't Drop!
Course of Studies: How It Works
Types of Evaluation
Points and Grading Criteria

General

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 17.5- week course. Thus, for a 5-week course (3.5 times faster) you may expect to dedicate at least 31.5 hours per week (10.5 hours "in" class and 21 hours "outside" class). Realistically, you will need to spend a minimum of twenty (20) hours per week engaged in studying (not printing, surfing the web, chatting over IM, etc.) if you want to make an A in the course.However, there are options (see Two Paths to Go By...below). 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.

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Materials Requirements

Textbook

No textbook is required for the course. All the lectures notes are provided online. You are welcome to print them for your studies or purchase one by filling out and mailing the form available in the Bookstore at The Remarkable Ocean World, www.oceansonline.com.

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 Jersey.

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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. 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. PLEASE put your NAME and PERM# at the TOP of all e-mails you send to me. 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.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me, drc@oceansonline.com

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Two Paths to Go By...

Let's be honest, some of us are more motivated to learn than others. Some of us are genuinely interested in college courses, others are completing courses strictly to meet degree requirements and still others have no idea why they are enrolled in college. Maybe a friend is taking it or maybe someone recommended it to you or maybe your parents said you had to take this course or get a job. Whatever.

In an effort to help more students succeed, I am offering two different paths to get through this course. The first path, the Challenger Deep Path, offers you a fully loaded, jam-packed, brain-busting adventure in oceanography. The second path, the Surface Drifters Path, provides a more general overview of oceanography, without the depth and intensity.

Read on for more details.

Challenger Deep Path

If you are motivated to earn the highest grade possible in this course, then you should follow this path. The challenge here is that you will complete all the reading and take all the exams that are required of general education oceanography students. This path encompasses the same materials and exams as a typical oceanography course at any community college or four-year institution. This path offers the most thorough and deep understanding of oceanography. It will inspire in you a desire to learn more about the oceans than you ever thought possible. The key ingredients here for success are motivation and desire.

You should choose this path if you:

Students engaged in this path may earn an A, B, C or D in the course.

If you discover that this path is too hard, if you find that learning about oceanography is not as fun as you thought it would be and/or if you realize that you don't really have the right stuff (i.e. what it takes to make an A), you can always jump paths. You'll have to start all over on topics that you've already taken but you will have less reading and easier exams. It might be worth it in the long run. Note, however, that you must finish one path completely or you risk failure. Points earned from different paths will not be combined. So choose wisely.

Surface Drifters Path

It is not a bad thing to just want to pass a class. In many cases, just getting by in a course and passing it are the best choices possible. It creates less stress, less hassles and less studying. This path encompasses less material and easier exams than the Challenger Deep Path. You will still learn a great deal about oceanography, but the pressures on you will be considerably reduced if you choose this path. There is no loss of honor or glory in taking this path. Be honest about your time and motivation. This might be the best path for you.

You should choose this path if you:

Students engaged in this path may only earn an C or D in the course.

If you discover that this path is way easy, if you find that learning about oceanography is more fun than you ever imagined and/or if you realize that you might have the right stuff (i.e. what it takes to make an A), you can always jump paths. You'll have to start all over on topics that you've already taken (you'll have to do more reading and take more exams) but it might be worth it for the higher grade. Note, however, that you must finish one path completely or you risk failure. Points earned from different paths will not be combined. So choose wisely.

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What You Will Learn in This Course

By taking this course, not only will you be smarter and wiser about the planet we live on but you will develop a better appreciation for your relationship with the ocean AND you will learn some real-world skills to boot.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

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A Plea from Your Instructor and Your College: Don't Drop!

You may not realize it, but dropping courses doesn't only hurt you but it hurts your college. State funding to community colleges is based on something called the success and retention rates of students. When students drop courses or fail to successfully complete them, our ability to provide better services, purchase better equipment and build new buildings is severely hampered. Everyone has circumstances in life that create stress or cause changes in the way we live, but there is no problem that cannot be solved. Before you drop a course, and especially before you drop this course, contact me. At the very minimum, please complete a short survey before you drop. That way, we can discover how to better serve our students and how to better insure that they successfully complete their courses.

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Course of Studies: 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 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. It can also be tailored to a realistic expectation of the grade you want to receive in this course.

Here's how it works:

  1. All students must complete the sections titled Start Here! and Ocean Science For Everyone! before they will be allowed to proceed in the course. These exams may only be taken once. You must complete these sections no later than Monday 11:59 PM, June 11, 2001, or you will be dropped from the course.
  2. Once completed, two options are available to you: the Challenger Deep Path, the ultimate oceanographic challenge, or the Surface Drifters Path, the easier, softer way. Students following the Challenger Deep Path may achieve grades of A, B, C or D in the course. Students taking the Surface Drifters Path may achieve no higher than a C or D as their grade in the course. NO ONE WILL FAIL IF THEY COMPLETE EITHER OF THESE PATHS. I guarantee it. Specific details on these paths are provided above (in case you missed reading them).
  1. Six major topics are available for study. They are:
  1. After you have completed the Start Here! and Ocean Science For Everyone! sections, you will have a choice over which of these topics you wish to pursue. You will be required to complete four of six topics by the end of the 5-weeks.
  2. I highly recommend that you complete one topic per week given the shortened summer semester.
  3. Your points for any individual topic will be based on an exam you take for that topic.
  4. You may take an exam up to three times but the scores will be averaged. For example, if you score 70 on the first exam, that will be your score. If you score 70 on the first exam 90 on the second exam, then your score will be the average of these two exams, i.e. 80. If you take the third exam of a topic, your score will be the average of all three exams. Noe that if your scores is less on the second and third tries, your average score will be diminished. You may not take an exam more than three times for any single topic.
  5. You may drop the lowest score from one (1) topic if you complete five (5) topics or you may drop 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.)
  6. Exam scores from Start Here! and Ocean Science For Everyone! will count in full. Neither of these scores may be dropped.
  7. 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.
  8. You may proceed through the sections at your own pace BUT all work must be completed by 11:59 PM, Thursday, July 5, 2001, which is the last day of classes.
  9. If you have any questions about how this works, please e-mail 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.
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Types of Evaluation

Exams

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.

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 exam consists of 25 questions worth 4 points each for a total of 100 points. All exams are open book.

You may take an exam up to three times within any one topic but the scores will be averaged. For example, if you score 70 on the first exam, that will be your score. If you score 70 on the first exam 90 on the second exam, then your score will be the average of these two exams, i.e. 80. If you take the third exam of a topic, your score will be the average of all three exams. Noe that if your scores is less on the second and third tries, your average score will be diminished. You may not take an exam more than three times for any single topic.

You will only have 90 minutes to complete an exam 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 90 minutes 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.

Once you take an exam, you must wait 24 hours before you will be allowed to take it again. Practice exams are available for all exams.

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.

There will be no final exam in this course.

Participation

While your studies of the course materials are somewhat 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 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!

Every week during the five-week semester, discussion topics will be posted in the Discussion 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. Five (5) points will be awarded for every response: five (5) points for your initial response and five (5) points each for your response to two of your classmate's responses. More information on how to reply to and post messages can be found in the Discussion Basics section in Start Here.

Ten (10) participation assignments will be required for a total of 150 points (15 points each assignment for your initial posting and your response to two classmate's postings). 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.

Self-Assessment

Part of your work this semester will be dedicated to self-assessment of your understanding and progress in the course. This self-assessment will be accomplished by:

    1. completing an anonymous online self-assessment survey in Week 3
    2. responding anonymously to self-assessment questions posted in the forums in Week 3 and responding to two of your classmate's postings

The anonymous self-assessment survey is worth 15 points and must be completed in Week 3. The anonymous self-assessment in the forum works just like a participation assignment: each posting is worth 5 points for a total of 15 points.

End of Course Survey

An end-of-the-course survey will be provided at the end of the course. The survey is worth 20 points.

The purpose of the survey is:

All surveys are anonymous. You perm number is requested in the survey to help us track characteristics of students who suceed or those who fail or withdraw from the course. Your responses to the survey will in no way affect your grade. Survey results are not tabulated until after grades have been submitted.

Extra Credit

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.

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Points and Grading Criteria

Challenger Deep Path

Description: ~300 pages of reading, 2 intro exams, 4/6 medium difficulty exams, participation. Highest grade possible on this path is an A.

To earn at least a minimum passing grade (i.e., a D), a student must complete the following:

To earn at least an average grade (i.e., a C), a student must complete the following:

To earn at least an above average grade (i.e., a B), a student must complete the following:

To earn the highest grade (i.e., an A), a student must complete the following:

Surface Drifters Path

Description: ~150 pages reading, 2 intro exams, 4/6 medium easy topic exams, weekly participation. Highest grade possible on this path is a C.

To earn a minimum passing grade (i.e., a D), a student must complete the following:

To earn the highest grade (i.e., an C), a student must complete the following:

Failure to complete participation the required assignments and exams may lead to failure in the course. However, a best-effort attempt to complete all the assignments and exams may result in a D grade, at a minimum. The point here is DON'T GIVE UP and DON'T DROP THE COURSE. You will always have a chance to pass in my class, one way or the other, as long as you keep trying.

The type and number of exams and assignments that are required for this course are summarized below.

Type of Evaluation
Number of points per evaluation
Number of evaluations
Total Points
Percentage (%) of Grade
Online Exams 100 6 600 75%
Participation 5 30 150 18.75%

Self-Assessment
Discussion

5 3 15 1.875%
Self-Assessment Survey 15 1 15 1.875%
End-of-course Survey 20 1 20 2.5%
Total 800 100%

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Student Teacher Contract of Understanding

Got all that? If so, then please click here to fill out the Student-Teacher Contract of Understanding.