Genetically Modified Organisms: Fall 2002
Seminar Information

Focus: Genetically modified organisms are splashed across headlines and sound bite but many people only know the caricatures. What does it mean that something is genetically modified? How do scientists modify the genes of an organism? What are we genetically modifying? and Should we being doing that? Along these lines we will read articles about GMOs that are currently available and their potential implications to our health and well being as well as the health and well being of the environment. Within one of these topics, you will develop an individual topic which will be the focus of your final webproject.

Before the first class you should do the reading listed on the syllabus and in the email I send you and look over the methods and project pages. There is no formal textbook for the class. We will be reading journal articles. You will need a ZIP disc. The lab we will meet in for web workshops s equipped with Dell PCs (Yes, Dells we switched it over the summer). If you are totally opposed to working on a PC I should be able to arrange for access to departmental Macs although NOT during scheduled class periods.

I do not expect that you are proficient in Powerpoint presentations or that you have ever made a webpage before. I will provide instruction on webpage basics and the lab computers have both Netscape Composer and MacroMedia Dreamweaver. I do expect that you are relatively comfortable using a computer (word processing, familiar with the fact that the wwweb exists) and that you know how to access your Davidson NT server space ('Louise'). If any of these are not the case please speak to me and/or the helpdesk.

Most assignments are technology based. Why? Being familiar, or even comfortable, with webauthoring and powerpoint presentations is an important skill and can only be learned by practice. In order to complete the assignments you must deal with the technology. Back up your work often and do not wait until the last minute to complete it. Last minute technology problems do not get you extensions.

How will the seminar work?

We meet once a week for 3 hours. Since you have taken other Bio courses you are used to a 3hour lab format but a 3 hour discussion class may seem daunting. Each class will have more than one component. The Assignments Due and Topics for each week are found in the syllabus. Note that in many cases assignments are submitted electronically and are due throughtout the week--not just on Thursdays.

Assignments include:

Methods Page: The techniques used to create, monitor and contain genetically modified organisms may not be familiar to all of you. The goal of this seminar is to be able to discuss journal articles, the research the contain and the validity of their conclusions and this goal is much harder is you don't know what the methods are. In this assignment each person will develop a webpage about a method or reoccurring theme found in GMO papers. A list of topics and guidelines for the assignment are found on the Methods Page.

Projects: The entire semester will be used to develop a project related to the course theme. Parts of this project will include work done in pairs and parts are done individually. Your topic will come from the list provided on the Project Page. By the third week of class you will submit a list of your top three choices and I will set up the pairs according to your interests. Course assignments that involve your project include:
Annotated Bibliography Entries: submitted by each individual
Discussion Paper: two papers provided by each pair to be used for class discussion (meet with me to discuss choices and plan intro/quiz/leading)
Paper Introduction: a Powerpoint presentation by each pair providing background on your discussion paper.
Quiz prep: Each pair must submit quiz questions to be answered by the rest of the class after your introductory presentation.
Lead Discussion: Each pair needs to provide study question and lead in class discussion of the paper you chose

Project webpage: Webpages designed by each pair that introduce your group's topic, state how it relates to the seminar's theme, define its important terms and areas of interest, provide background and perhaps include links to other organization's webpages for more information.The project must have an introductory homepage and at least five other pages that you have created. All webpages should be backed up by appropriate research and correctly formatted in text references (included on the site). No more than 50% of your references should be websites.Please note the staggered due dates to accomodate group project deadlines. These dates will not change.
Final Paper:
submitted by each individual. This final paper is a more traditional 'term paper' that will expand upon a particular aspect of your group's project. It is to be written and referenced like you would any other term paper--however-- before submitting it you will convert it to html format and turn it in as a link off of your group project page.

Participation: This is a seminar therefore participation is very important and a major component of your overall evaluation. Showing up is expected and does not count as participating. Because we meet only once a week you must come to class with the material read, your mind ready to discuss the topics and you need to actually speak. We only meet fourteen times. You cannot miss any of them.
Some (perhaps many) of the topics are controversial. Your opinion may not be the same as your classmates' and may not be the same as mine. Agreement is not required. Respectful and polite interactions are. Your group will have meetings outside of formal 'class time' and your preparation, attendance and participation at those meetings also forms part of your evaluation.

Quizzes: Student-lead paper discussion have two parts: background presentation and paper discussions. Each background presentation will be followed by a quiz found on Blackboard which covers the basics of the material. You write the quiz on your project (but do not take it). You take the quizzes on the other five presentations. Your lowest score will be dropped and the remaining four will be used to determine your quiz grade.

Assignments and the Honor Code: All assignments must be completed in accordance with the Honor code. Since all are electronic turning in the assignment pledges that the work is your own and was completed under the Honor code. By participating in a group project you pledge to contribute equally to the project. Group members may have different strengths but no one person will 'carry the load'. You may receive technical help in preparing and posting your web and powerpoint based projects. Help constitutes aid, not 'subcontracting'-- you should be able to perform the functions on your own or from your notes.

Grading: Your numerical grade will be based on the following categories.

Participation (I) 20%
Methods page and overview in class (I) 7%
Annotated Bibliography (I) 4%
Background Presentation and Leading Discussion (P) 25%
Quiz prep (P) 2%
Quiz scores (I) 10%
Web project (P) 15%
Final Paper (I) 17%

Pair assignments (labeled 'P') will receive one evaluation (with comments) per group. Each member of the pair is expected to have contributed equally to the preparation and presentation of the material. Peer evaluations will also be used (completed both by group members and classmates).

Projects receiving individual assessment are labeled 'I'.

Your numerical evaluation will be converted into a course grade using the following scale:

Letter grade  B+ = 3.3 = 87-89 C+ = 2.3 = 77-79 D+ = 1.3 = 67-69  
A =4.0 =93-100 B = 3.0 = 83-86 C = 2.0 = 73-76 D = 1.0 = 60-66 F = below 60
A- =3.7 = 90-92 B- = 2.7 = 80-82 C- = 1.7 = 70-72    

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