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Below you will find various course policies, including:


This is an upper-level elective course, and as you will discover there is a lot of hands-on work to be done. While some, particularly in the latter half of the course, may be done on your own, I think you'll find that working in class along with your compatriots will greatly improve the experience. That said, I don't require attendance for this course. (Although part of your grade for the courses will be based on participation, peer evaluation, and class discussion, so excessive absence will certainly not help you there.)


Grades for this course will be determined as described in the Components section of this site.

I'm going to be using the point system for this course, so you don't have to worry about calculating percentages for individual components. Given my grading scale (see below), you can therefore calculate your own grade in the course at any time.

In summary, then:

Finishing reports (oral and written) 200 points
Peer finishing evaluations 100 points
Annotatian reports (oral and written) 200 points
Peer annotation evaluations 100 points
Discretionary points 100 points
Homework 100 points
Class Discussions 100 points
Participation 100 points
Anticipated Total 1000 points

I reserve the right to tweak these distributions as I see fit.

Here is the grading scale I use in all my classes:

numeric gradeletter grade
93.3 - 100A
90.0 - 93.2A-
86.7 - 89.9B+
83.3 - 86.6B
80.0 - 83.2B-
76.7 - 79.9C+
73.3 - 76.6C
70.0 - 73.2C-
66.7 - 69.9D+
63.3 - 66.6D
60.0 - 63.2D-

Just to review, this is what the Student Handbook has to say about grades:

A and A-
These grades are given for achievement of the highest caliber. They reflect independent work, original thinking, and the ability to acquire and effectively use knowledge.
B+, B, and B-
These grades are given for higher than average achievement. Evidence of independent work and original thinking is expected.
C+, C, and C-
These grades are given when the student has devoted a reasonable amount of time, effort, and attention to the work of the course and has satisfied the following criteria: familiarity with the content of the course, familiarity with the methods of study of the course, and active participation in the work of the class.
D+, D, and D-
These grades are given for unsatisfactory work, below the standard expected by the College. They indicate work which in one or more important aspects falls below the average expected of students for graduation. The work is, however, sufficient to be credited for graduation, if balanced by superior work in other courses.

Note that there isn't a whole lot of emphasis on knowledge here (as traditionally defined). Which is odd, but in any event, these descriptions are guidelines, not absolute criteria for a given grade. If you work independently, think originally, and are able to acquire and effectively use knowledge, but don't know squat about genetics at the end of the course, that's simply not "A" work. Context is important, people.


In this course, the reading is an important important supplement to our class activities. Part of your grade will come from readings which we will discuss in class. My recommended strategy for tackling reading in an area you're not familiar with is to skim the entire article or paper early on, then come back to it later for a more thorough perusal. Probably more than once. Don't try to memorize all of the content, there are no content-based examinations in this course. My goal is to help you become better consumers of scientific literature and to gain familiarity with issues, strategies, and discoveries in modern genomics research.

Late Assignments

Assignments turned in late will not be accepted. Period.

Extra Credit

There is no opportunity for extra credit in this course.


No eating in class, unless you can convince me it's medically necessary. The computers don't deal well with spilled comestibles and (especially) potables.

Cell Phones

Cell phones, like television, are tools of Satan. They are without significant positive value in my world and while I don't expect you to share my view of them, I expect you to spare me from being rudely reminded of their existence. If you are expecting an urgent phone call while in class, alert me to that fact ahead of time. Otherwise, if your cell phone goes off in class, you can expect me to penalize you some number of points, based entirely on my whim. Someday this will be looked on as one of my lovable eccentricities, but until then you'll just have to put up with my sociopathy.

My antipathy extends to Blackberries and other such devices as well. If you want to text, tweet, IM, email, browse the web, check your stocks, shop, or do anything else that you feel is more important than paying attention in class, go for it. But don't do it in this class: you've got a computer right in front of you, but it's important that you stay focused on the task(s) at hand. I have had students in years past who thought they could multi-task, holding IM chats and I-don't-know-what-all while in class. They didn't do nearly as well as they might have, had they been paying more attention to what they were supposed to be doing. Our time in this class is very limited: don't waste it.

Academic Honesty

I adhere to the Academic Honesty policy of the College. There is nothing more important to me than personal integrity — not happiness, not power, not even genomics, nothing — and I conduct myself and all of my classes in that spirit. If you're not familiar with College policy, you should be.


Per Moravian College policy: "Students who wish to request accommodations in this class for a disability should contact Elaine Mara, assistant director of learning services for academic and disability support, at 1307 Main Street or by calling 610-861-1510. Accommodations cannot be provided until authorization is received from the Academic Support Center."