Thoughts and Grading exams for CEM131/BIO220

First a note about my drop test policy.  While I may make exceptions in a VERY limited fashion to things that occur before a test is given, I do not make post-test accommodations.  The dropped exam policy was specifically put in place to allow the normal issues that come up in life to not adversely affect your grade (illness, car trouble, etc.).  It was NOT put there to help you make up for a poor performance, if it does do this in the end that is a benefit, but not the aim of the policy.  You are expected to attend every class and take every exam, but if you can’t the occasional miss will not hurt the grade you have, that grade that you earned.

Second, on cheating, don’t do it.  There was a recent rash of cheating in one of the JC programs, resulting in a number of students being removed from said program.  I am not nearly as lenient.  Some may call me hardass, but I look at it as simply recording your lack of ethics for future posterity.  When several of the cheaters in the above scandal were questioned their response was “everyone does it, so you have to work to stop us from doing it.”  No, you do not just cheat, you choose to pursue an unethical and morally corrupt decision and then blame society for your failures.  Remember, I am judge, jury, and executioner with regards to cheating and I DO NOT TOLERATE IT.  Don’t give me a reason to have to deal with it.

Finally, the exams yesterday and today in CEM131 and BIO220.  I will not get to grading them until at least Sunday.  I am presently working on a large administrative project dealing with aligning the curriculum to the new Pathways initiative and this is taking a large amount of my “free time” (yeah, I just stifled a laugh) till Sunday.  So don’t wear the refresh button out on your browser hoping for early results, you can wait… if you really want to know after you take it that is.

delayed class-BIO220-UPDATE

ABC Academy is currently without power and is delayed in opening. So far the rest of the JC campus has power. Since I am in route and my son attends ABC, I have to delay class until ABC Academy is open. We will be dropping lab today and start at 11am with class. If the delay is longer, I will notify you by 10:00 am. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Power is back on at ABC Academy so the rest of the schedule today is normal.  BIO220 lecture will be at 11:00 and BIO161 will run as normally scheduled.

Week 7


  • Monday: Daily Quiz, Give Back Exam, Start “Compounds and their Bonds”
  • Wednesday: Daily Quiz, “Compounds and their Bonds”


  • Lab: Biochemical Description, Lecture: Exam 2
  • Lecture: Start Chapter 8


  • Lab: Prokaryotes (finish), Lecture: Exam 2
  • Lecture: Daily Quiz, Start Chapter 30

Moment of Silence

Due to the college observing a Moment of Silence for the tragic events in Oregon last week we will do starting class at 11:15 today to accommodate participation and passing time between classes.

Week 4


  • Monday: Exam 1
  • Wednesday: Return Exam 1, Daily Quiz, Chapter 3, Lab 4


  • Tuesday: Return Exam 1, Chapter 5, Endospore Stain
  • Thursday: Chapter 5


  • Tuesday: Return Exam 1, Daily Quiz, Chapter 26, Evolution Lab
  • Thursday: Daily Quiz, Chapter 27

BIO161 and BIO220 Assignments for Tuesday

A lot of you asked me about the next things to cover.  I understand the impetus, especially in BIO161, due to the Daily Quizzes.  So here is what you need to do.

BIO161:  Chapter 26, Origins and Diversity of Life, the Daily Quiz will focus on Terminology and Big Concepts (think Section Headings).

BIO220:  Chapter 5, start the chapter, we will be focused on Enzyme Mechanisms and Pathways for the first day and then move in Glucose Metabolism.  You can ignore the sizable section of the chapter referring to Photosynthesis (we will not cover that).

Benefits and Pitfalls of the Internet Age

I remember when I was in college and professors would post your grades after the midterm and final (if you were lucky).  This isn’t to say we didn’t fret about our grades, we obsessed about them, but we also knew exactly how they were calculated (from the syllabus) and were expected to figure them out if we wanted an up to the minute detailed grade.  Yes, even I think that is a little extreme, but at the same time I think we have gone the other direction too far, people get obsessed now with knowing every grade at every minute, and having the “what do I need to pass” number calculated for them.

When I construct my classes I have a few choices on how to calculate and to record grades.  Obviously many of you would love me to use the JetNet system so you can just pull up everything on a moment’s notice, but that isn’t going to happen and here is why.  JetNet is feature poor, the system has very rudimentary grading system that are not that well geared towards classes that use numerous types of assessments, weight them differently, and account for drops.  I’ve extensively trained on the system, and as the platform stands now, I do not think it is that good.  Sure, if I graded you like many of my college classes were (60% for the final, 40% for the midterm) I could make it work, but I don’t think you guys would like that.

A few semesters ago I took the time to reformat my system to a total points system (not a trivial endeavor) rather than the previous weighted average system I used.  I did this to make total calculations easier for the students, you take the sum of your points divide it by the total number possible and get your percentile grade.  This also makes calculating “what do I need to get” totals easier too.  All of my grading is transparent, you get back everything I assess, and nothing is set into the JC system till the end (in fact 48 hours after I post the final grades on my own site).

The downside to all this, from your perspective, is that you have to wait for me to post the grades, and doubly so on the first one since you don’t know your student number.  I make every effort to get major assignments (exams and such) and most minor assignments back by the next time we have that type of class (lecture to lecture, lab to lab), but it is not always possible.  After you have the student number from the first exam you can freely check the website for the grades as often as you want, but I will not rush grading (free response answers are not trivial to assess) simply to meet an arbitrary deadline.  I also don’t post grade updates (with exceptions for egregious errors) except after every exam (when the numbers are most likely to significantly change).

I hope you all enjoy the first round of exams and that they are not too stressful.  Now, just go have a beverage of your choice and forget about it till next week because you won’t know anything till then.

CEM131 Text on Reserve

There should already be text for BIO161 and BIO220 on reserve in the library, but today I added a copy of the unabridged text for CEM131 on closed reserve (2 hrs., no overnight).