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Your Work - Evaluation and Expectations - Instructor's Idiosyncracies - Bottom Line

Evaluation, and all other, policies will be subjected to continuous review and possible revision throughout the course. However, barring a catastrophic event (e.g., a giant comet striking the earth), final course grades will be determined largely by three in-class tests, and a comprehensive final exam. The allocation is as follows:

  • 20% = Test #1, September 24, 2015
  • 20% = Test #2, comprehensive (cumulative) mid-term exam - October 22, 2015
  • 20% = Test #3, November 17, 2015
  • 30% = Final exam (comprehensive, cumulative) - 1:30 - 3:30 PM on December 18, 2015 as assigned by the University
  • 10% = Miscellaneous (This will be based on the instructor's judgment of items such as the following: (a) perceived student participation and enthusiasm, (b) any assignments made or quizzes given, and (c) notebook, if collected.

A few quizzes may be given during the semester.

Final numerical grades will be converted into letter grades with the scale A = 90 and above, B = 80 - 89, and so forth.

No special curves or quotas will be applied to final grades.

  • Good News: Each student can strive for the highest mark. That's right, everyone in the class can earn an A! Aim high!
  • Bad News: Everyone in the class can earn an F! -- Neither of these extremes is likely.
All 1-hour tests will be announced at least a week in advance, and will be closed-book and in-class. The use of calculators will be permitted, but you will not be allowed to share a calculator with another student. A similar policy will apply to any quizzes given, which usually will be announced one class meeting in advance.


Outside assignments will be made many times during the semester. The purpose of such work is to reinforce the ideas met in the lectures and readings. A record of all such work should be placed in a course notebook, which you can hand in at the end of the course.

Instructor's Idiosyncracies

  • Attendance is expected at every class meeting. Register your attendance on the sign-in sheet which will be circulated. Two absences are allowed without penalty. Your final grade will be lowered 1 percent for every absence beyond two, without exception. Note also that no distinction is made between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. These same policies apply to tardiness. Tardiness will be penalized as it is disruptive and discourteous.

    Save your two cuts/tardies until you need them for trips, illness, or emergencies!

  • This is, in essence, a way for your instructor to give you credit for participation. No attendance, no participation.
  • Turn off and put away all electronic "toys", such as computers and phones, during class hours.
  • If you have a private conversation to conduct, please do it outside of class hours.
  • If you are caught cheating in any way you will be given a grade of "F" for the course.

Bottom Line

Much of this page can be ignored if you simply stay enthusiastic and remain diligent in your work. Astrobiology is both fascinating and great fun. If you develop a love of learning and an intellectual curiosity then tests and such will be much easier.