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Lecture Notes: Course Introduction

EEB 4260: Margaret Rubega

Introduction to

Course Goals, Structure and Guidelines

Class Business

  • Syllabus handout; also posted on the class web page, where it is subject to change – check it weekly.


  • Text books. Gill’s “Ornithology” is required.   Other supplemental books are available, but optional.


  • Office hours. 10-11 am on Wednesdays in the BioPhysics Café, or by appointment.


  • Email policy: the subject line in your emails to us MUST contain the phrase “EEB 4260”. Any email without that phrase, and especially with a blank subject line, will be DELETED without being read. If you are emailing me to set up an appointment, the email should say: (a) what you want to discuss and (b) times you are available to meet.


  • Web site. For each lecture I will aim to post an outline on the web ahead of time. I recommend STRONGLY that you print them out and take notes right on top of them in class, and during your reading. These outlines are not a substitute for coming to class, and you should not expect them to include everything covered in class (e.g., none of the graphics will be in the web notes). On tests you will be expected to know about all the things we talked about in class, not just the information in the web notes.


Reading/Assignment for Next Class:

Required.          Gill: pgs. xxi – xxvi and Chapter 1.

Read Course Guidelines; print out, sign, and turn in Course Guidelines Form

Read Twitter Assignment description; complete and turn in the Twitter Handle Worksheet

Optional.          Procter & Lynch: Pages 1-6.


Course Goals, structure and guidelines

A) Goals:

  1.  What do we want you to know?

What is already known about birds – factual information

Understand the conceptual framework (evolutionary, ecological) within which we formulate questions and interpret what is observable about birds

How we know what we know; what are the kinds of evidence we use to interpret what’s observable about birds?


2. What do we want you to be able to do?

Find, and teach yourself, information relevant to what you are learning

Apply your factual knowledge and conceptual understanding outside the classroom

Make connections (synthesize) between the different kinds of things you know

Organize and communicate what you know in a way that reflects conceptual understanding, and is clear to others


B) Structure, grading:

  1.  Lectures: a way for me to communicate factual and conceptual information to you. These may seem like a one-way form of communication, but your engagement (attention, questions, participation in discussion) influences what I say and how I say it.
  2. Minute papers: ungraded; a way for us to check in with you about what you know/understand/are thinking; allow me to change the course of lectures if what I’m doing is not effective.
  3. Tests: graded; assess your mastery of factual material and your understanding of conceptual material.
  4. Ordinal Summaries: graded, peer reviewed, and require you to gather, interpret, and organize information on your own, OUTSIDE OF CLASS. Designed to help cement your understanding of the material + encourage what you ought to do anyway.
  5. Twitter assignment: ungraded, except for completeness; used to reinforce course material outside of lecture; assess your ability to apply what you are learning in the real world. Also: fun!


C) Guidelines: Detailed description is in the Course Guidelines document (read, sign and turn in the Guidelines Form by second lecture) but key points are:


  1.  Attendance: You are not required to attend class; I am not responsible for recreating what happened in class if you miss it. If you miss a class, you are responsible for getting notes from a classmate: I will not re-lecture to you one-on-one later.
  2. Grading
      • Grades will not be curved
      • There are no make-ups
      • There are no opportunities for “extra credit”
      • You can miss up to two in-class tests/short papers without penalty (or drop your lowest two) and without explanation to us. This DOES NOT include the final exam.
      • If you have a legitimate excuse to miss more than that, AND DOCUMENTATION to prove it, your grade will be pro-rated on the basis of the assessments you did take.

3. Use of electronics in the classroom: none allowed, except for the use of laptops for note-taking, only. All other uses (surfing the internet, email, texting, IM, listening to music, watching video, et Infiniti) are distracting, disruptive of our work in the classroom, and disrespectful of the instructor and those nearby. Turn your phone off.