Syllabus for Fall 2009
The Age of Dinosaurs is an
introduction to Natural History for non-science majors. The course focuses
on current scientific theories and controversies surrounding the evolution and
extinction of dinosaurs. In order to appreciate these issues, the course
presents an introduction to Earth history, plate tectonics, surface geology,
sedimentary processes, fossilization, and related topics. It also
presents an introduction to the theory of evolution, an overview of the
diversity of Life on Earth, along with a discussion on how modern scientists
study the relationships among organisms and interpret the evolutionary history
of Life. The geological and evolutionary processes that have affected the
history of dinosaurs are the focus throughout the course. In the end,
you will learn how Earth history and Life history are intricately intertwined,
and how scientists are using their knowledge of the past to predict what's ahead
for us all.
Dr. Julia Clarke
Office: Geology 3.216D
or by appointment
Office: Geology 6.106
or by appointment
Rowe will teach during the first half of the semester, and Dr. Clarke will teach
during the second half of the semester.
TA office hours will be
announced in Lab.
Course Web Site Homepage:
The course website site will be your source for
information on the class schedule for all lectures, assignments, exams, and
GEO 2.324, Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30-11:00am
GEO 3.202; see catalog; your lab schedule is listed by the unique number of the
section in which you are registered
Required Study Materials:
Text: The Mistaken Extinction,
by Lowell Dingus and Timothy Rowe, 1998, W. H. Freeman and Co., New York.
Available free, online from the course website.
Multimedia: The Age of Dinosaurs
CD-ROM, by Timothy Rowe, Kyoko Kishi, John W. Merck, Jr., and Matthew
Colbert, 1998, W. H. Freeman and Co., New York. This software will be
distributed at no cost during the first lab section.
Weekly Lab sections are a required part of the course. The labs provide an
opportunity to examine specimens, as well as a forum for group discussion of
issues raised in the course. Starting Week 2 of the semester, quizzes will be
given in Lab every week.
Policy on Grades:
1) Final Grades: Your final letter grade will be
based on your total score from exams and labs. Grades are assigned using a
standard curve that reflects the accomplishment of the class as a whole.
The curve mean represents a 'C'.
2) Exam (60%): 3
midterms and 1 final exam will be given. All three midterm exams and the
final exam must be taken. Your best 2 midterm scores plus the final exam
score will be counted as 60% of your final grade - i.e., you may drop you lowest
midterm score. The Exam Schedule is on the web. Exams are
given only once. There are no make-up exams and no specially scheduled
exams. Exceptions may be made for handicapped students, but they must
request any special arrangements early in the semester. All exams are
cumulative in their coverage. They will cover material from lectures,
reading assignments, labs, software, web resources, and videos. You will
be asked questions about general concepts as well as specific points of
information. You will be held responsible for correct spelling and for
writing with complete sentences that use proper grammar.
3) Lab Quizzes (20%):
Lab quizzes will be given every week, starting Week 2. They must be taken
at the scheduled times, and all assignments must be turned in on time.
Lab assignments turned in late will receive no credit. Your cumulative
score from lab assignments and quizzes will be counted as 25% of your final
4) Lecture Quizzes
(20%): A short quiz will be given during each lecture. Please bring a 4" x
6" note card to every class. You will write your quiz answers on these
cards and turn them in by the end of the lecture.
5) Statue of
Limitations: If you wish to appeal a grade received on an exam, quiz,
or lab, your appeal must be made within 7 days from the time it is handed
back. No appeals will be considered after that deadline.
dishonesty will not be tolerated. Work submitted for a grade under
your name must be exclusively your own. Evidence of dishonesty on even one
exam, quiz, or assignment will result in an 'F' for the course and a report to
the Dean of Students; if you were failing the course anyway, a recommendation of
disciplinary probation will also be forwarded to the Dean of Students.