Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu) Geology 1119 (W, Th, F)
Office Hours: Thu 2-4 pm (Geology 1119) or by appointment
Required readings will be provided.
COURSE ORGANIZATION: Two meetings per week (Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30 to 1:45). Tuesday's class will typically be a formal lecture, Thursdays will be divided between lecture and discussion.
CREDIT: Three credit hours. Counts as CORE Physical Science and GenEd DSNS.
Emphasis: At first glance, this course appears simply to be about the history of vertebrate evolution. In fact, there are several courses on campus that address issues of vertebrate anatomy, evolution, and diversity in greater detail than we will. If your true objective is simply to learn about fossil and living vertebrate diversity, you might look into BSCI392, GEOL204, GEOL331, or GEOL431. This course's real object is to explore the new, and still controversial, methods of phylogenetic systematics and Evo-Devo, by which modern evolutionary scientists have focused our picture of vertebrate history, and examine the connections between the evolution of species and the development of individuals. By the time you complete this course, you can expect not only to have digested many raw facts about vertebrates, but to have mastered a method of inquiry that will enable you to integrate those facts into a coherent, compelling pattern. In the process, you will place yourselves in the vanguard of an ongoing scientific revolution. Forward!
Class description and attendance policy: Attendance won't be taken, however lecture attendance is essential to success. Exams will be based on lecture material, reading assignments, and matters covered in discussion. Posted web notes are intended as a synopsis of lecture material only. If you miss a lecture you must get full notes from a colleague. Also, part of your grade (5%) is based on participation in discussions. Habitual failure to participate will result in the loss of these points. :-O
- Midterm exam (20%)
- Final exam (20%)
- Homework (15% combined)
- Project (35% total)
- Taxon list and review: 5%; due 3/27
- Character list and taxon-character matrix: 5%; due 4/19
- Preliminary draft of results: 5%; due 4/26
- Final write-up: 20%; due 5/10
- Participation/In class activities (10%)
- Two extra credit field trips (2.5% each)
- In-class activities: A seminar course can't fulfill its function without active participation of students. Thus, the default assumption is that students will be present and fully participating in discussions and class activities. Failure to attend and/or participate will result in the deduction of points from the participation score.
- Exams: Exams will cover all lecture, readings, and discussion material. They will not be cumulative per se, however the material itself is cumulative in nature, so it is unlikely that you will be able completely to dismiss earlier material. Exams will include both objective and written components.
- Homework: Nobody wants to sit through a lecture that consists of nothing but atomized lists of facts. Any yet, the facts must be learned. To assist you, six biweekly homework assignments will be administered, either on paper or through ELMS. The lowest score will automatically be dropped (you can't stop me). Graded homework may be resubmitted for a regrade during the following week.
- Research Project/Paper: Each student will complete a research project involving a phylogenetic analysis of a vertebrate group or a reanalysis of analyses in the primary literature. Information should be derived from primary (technical journals) and secondary (textbooks) scientific literature, or from direct observation of specimens, if appropriate. The completed write-up should take up about 9 - 12 pages. More information will be forthcoming on this later in the semester.
- Optional field trips:
- US National Museum of Natural History: Saturday, 4/**. Rendezvous at 1:00 PM in main rotunda near the elephant's butt. (Note: Take Metro Green Line to Archives - Navy Memorial)
- National Zoo: Sunday, 4/22. Rendezvous at 2:00 PM at entrance to the Amazonia House. (Note: Take Metro Red Line to Woodley Park - Zoo) Link to zoo map.
- Optional field trips:
|100-97% = A+||96-94% = A||93-90% = A-|
|89-87% = B+||86-84% = B||83-80% = B-|
|79-77% = C+||76-74% = C||73-70% = C-|
|69-67% = D+||66-64% = D||63-60% = D-|
|<60% = F|
- Absences: Regular attendance and participation in this class is the best way to grasp the concepts and principles being discussed. However, in the event that a class must be missed due to an illness, the policy in this class is as follows:
- For every medically necessary absence from class, a reasonable effort should be made to notify the instructor in advance of the class. When returning to class, students must bring a note identifying the date of and reason for the absence, and acknowledging that the information in the note is accurate.
- If a student is absent more than once, the instructor may require documentation signed by a health care professional.
- If a student is absent on days when tests or presentations are scheduled or assignments are due he or she is required to notify the instructor in advance, and upon returning to class, bring documentation of the illness, signed by a health care professional.
- Academic Accommodations: If you have a documented disability, you should contact the instructor during the first week of class, and contact Disability Support Services 0126 Shoemaker Hall. Each semester students with documented disabilities should apply to DSS for accommodation request forms which you can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the DSS web site.
- Religious Observances: The University System of Maryland policy provides that students should not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance. Notice should be provided as soon as possible but no later than the end of the schedule adjustment period. Faculty should further remind students that prior notification is especially important in connection with final exams, since failure to reschedule a final exam before the conclusion of the final examination period may result in loss of credits during the semester. The problem is especially likely to arise when final exams are scheduled on Saturdays.
- Dishonesty: The Student Honor Council observes that, "The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism.
Thus, in HONR219D, work submitted under your name, even for extra credit, must unambiguously be exclusively your own. Any evidence of dishonesty on any graded assignment will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct, whereupon your life will become very interesting, indeed. Have a nice day. :-O
- Course Evaluations: CourseEvalUM will be open for students to complete their evaluations
for Spring 2012 courses between Tuesday, April 24, and Friday, May 11. Students can go
directly to the website to complete their evaluations,
beginning *****. You will be alerted about these dates and provided more information closer
to that time, and students will be alerted via their official University e-mail account.
Students who complete evaluations for all of their courses in the previous semester (excluding summer), can access the posted results via Testudo's CourseEvalUM Reporting link for any course on campus that has at least a 70% response rate. You can find more information, including periodic updates, at the IRPA course evaluation website.
The expectation is that all students will complete these. This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity!
- Copyright: © 2018 John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students are prohibited from copying and selling course materials, from selling lecture notes, and from being paid to take lecture notes without the express written permission of the faculty teaching this course.
Part I: The Rock Record
Part II: Evolution
Part III: Making Babies
|3-18 through 3-25||
Part IV: Enigmas
|5-17 1:30 PM||
* The instructor reserves the right to revise this schedule at his most trivial whim.
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