Syllabus
Genetics (Bio 3600)
Spring 2024


Instructor:
Dr. Cindy Church
Science 2037.
E-mail address:churchcy@msudenver.edu
Website: http://drchurchbiology.com
Office Hours:
Tue. 9:00-9:30; 1:00-2:00; 3:45-4:45
Thur: 9:00-9:30

Text:
Klug, Cummings, Spencer & Palladino, Essentials of Genetics, 10th edition without Mastering. (2020) Pearson.
This is the stand-alone book without Mastering. You can also choose the ebook.
Print ISBN: 9780134898414
eText ISBN: 9780135308400

Note: Students sometimes ask about using an older edition of the book. The problem with using the 9th edition (I don't recommend anything older than that) is that some of the material has been updated--particularly the sections on gene expression. Also, the reading assignment pages will be different for those using the 9th edition. However, I understand the financial concerns, so I have listed the page numbers for both editions on the schedule in case you decide to purchase the older, less expensive edition.

Course description
: This course is designed to introduce you to the behavior of genes and chromosomes in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. We will examine how genetic traits are transmitted from generation to generation, the nature and location of genes, and how they are expressed and regulated.

Prerequisites: Learning genetics requires constant reference to principles of basic biology, chemistry and mathematics. If you lack the necessary background from previous courses, you will probably not be able to follow lectures, understand the textbook, or complete the practice problems. If you have not completed the prerequisites or you do not have Jr. or Sr. status, you should drop this class and enroll in the prerequisite courses.

Mathematics. College-level algebra. You should know how to work with exponential and logarithmic functions and how to setup and solve algebraic problems.
Introductory Biology.You should understand the fundamentals of chemistry and biochemistry as presented at the beginning of your introductory biology course; basic life cycles of animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria; cellular structure and function including the structures and functions of all major organelles; cell cycle, mitosis, cytokinesis, and meiosis; Mendelian inheritance; structure and replication of DNA; transcription and translation.
I expect you to understand the above topics at the level they are covered in the prerequisite courses. Most of the topics will be covered in greater depth in this class, so a basic understanding of them is essential.

Teaching Philosophy: I will strive to make this an interesting, rewarding class that you look forward to attending. My goal is to help you learn the concepts of genetics well enough to apply them to new examples and data sets. I realize that this may seem intimidating if you are used to simply memorizing facts, but modern science requires an ability to synthesize and apply knowledge. During the lectures, I will present facts which you will then use as tools to find answers. My intention is to challenge you, not frustrate you. If the material seems too difficult, please see me early in the semester.

Grading and Make-up Exams: There will be 4 hourly exams each worth 50 points. I will substitute the optional notebook (50 points) for an exam grade, so there will be no make-up exams. The final exam will be worth 75 points and it will be cumulative.

Points: 400 total
Hourly exams: 200 (or exams 150 + notebook 50)
Final exam: 75
Definitions quizzes: 50
Presentation: 50

Teamwork, attendance and participation: 25

Grading Scale

A

B

C

D and Failing

97-100%:  A+

93-96%:    A

90-92%:    A-

87-89%: B+

83-86%: B

80-82%: B-

77-79%: C+

73-76%: C

70-72%: C-

60-69%: D

Less than 60

Extra Credit: From time to time people ask me about extra credit.  First of all, I feel strongly about the necessity of mastering the basic concepts that are covered in this course, and I think spending a lot of time on extra credit assignments would distract you from that goal.  Secondly, I go to great lengths to see that everyone in the class is treated equally. and offering individual extra credit would violate that rule.

Assignments: Your understanding will be greatly improved if you read the assigned chapter or section before attending the lecture. The practice questions and reviews are for your benefit and will not be graded.  Analysis and problem solving are particularly important in the genetics. To do well in this class, most students need to practice problem solving over and over. You should do the practice questions on time and not wait until exam time to cram. This is a class for which cramming is likely to cause undue stress and a poor grade.

Attendance: I believe that you are mature enough to decide whether or not to attend class and there will be no penalty for missed classes. However, you are responsible for all material discussed in class and all reading assignments. It is your responsibility to obtain notes from any lectures that you miss. Also, keep in mind that your participation and attendance go hand-in-hand,

Tips for Success

Genetics is a pivotal course providing a foundation for several of the courses many of you will take in the future. For that reason, it is essential that you adequately prepare for this class and you allot sufficient time for study during the semester.  If you make a serious commitment of time and effort to genetics, I promise it will pay dividends as you get your budding scientific careers off on the right foot.
Use the course resources.  You will find a combination of learning resources within the web pages including practice activities with feedback, so make sure you take full advantage of these resources. 
Repeat the definitions quizzes until you get a 10/10. I recommend taking them without the help of notes/textbook/Wikipedia.
Read with a purpose. One common mistake students make is that they approach reading a science textbook like reading a newspaper or magazine. Instead, try some of these reading tips: 1) Don't attempt to read when you are tired, distracted, or agitated; 2) Break up your reading into manageable sections. Don't save it all until the last minute; 3) Take a break if you are losing concentration. Listen to music, have a snack, or drink some water. Then return to your reading; and 4) Write down any questions you have and we can discuss them in class.
Prepare for questions that require reasoning (application, analysis, or synthesis) rather than mere rote memory answers.  Don't just read and re-read the book.  Instead, study with a purpose.  Practice self-testing.  Form a study group.  Utilize the lecture notes and other learning aids on this website, paying particular attention to the lecture outlines and practice problems.  Keep a notebook. 
Analysis and problem solving are particularly important in learning genetics.  To do well in this course, most students need to practice problem solving over and over.
Participate actively in class discussions.  Ask questions.
Reach out to me. I am here to help.
Monitor your progress in Canvas. If you do not do as well on your first exam as you expected, don't panic. Talk to me. If you do poorly on the second exam as well, you should re-evaluate your preparation (for example, are you cramming for exams rather than staying current with the material?).

Consider taking advantage of free on-campus tutoring, especially the STEM Learning Center in SCI 1009: Click here (this is an external link).  The MSU Denver tutoring center can be reached at (303) 615-1919.

Stay current.  Print out the syllabus and assignment pages and keep them handy.  Staying current with assignments (See "Class Schedule") and keeping track of dates is critical in any science course. 
Ask for help early. If you don't understand something, let me know ASAP so we can work together to find a solution.

This is a challenging course, but it is fascinating as well. You should plan to work hard, but you should also be able to catch a glimpse of the beauty and logic of genetics in the process. Many students feel that this was among the most difficult yet rewarding courses of their college careers.

Note: The University Policies pages are posted in Canvas.