ECO Home Page


Fall 2009

BIO 120 A001

Human Ecology

Lecture:  Tuesday and Thursday12:30-1:45


Instructor:   Geralyn M. Caplan

Office Hours:  Monday between 1:00 and 2:30, Wednesday between 1:00 and 4:00; TTh between 2:00 and 4:00 and, Fri by appointment before 2:30

Office Location: S117 (Science Building)


Web site:


Course Description:  A study of the interrelationships of man, populations, space, energy, food, mineral resources, and other life on Earth. 

 Course Objectives:

·         To gain an understanding of the science of ecology

·         To describe how energy and matter are related, and how they pertain to ecosystems and human activities.

·         To describe and identify cycles found in nature.

·         How do communities, ecosystems and organisms change as conditions change.

·         To explain evolution and the mechanism of natural selection.

·         To describe what key factors determine variations in weather and climate.

·         To describe methods of waste disposal, air and water pollution, and how they affect the ecosystem and human activities. 

·         To describe the affect the growing human population has on human activities and the environment.

Requisites: none

Assigned Book:

Withgott, Jay & Brennan, Scott (2008) Essential Environment: The Science Behind The Storie2 nd Edition. Pearson Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco

Withgott, Jay & Brennan, Scott (2008) Viewpoints to Accompany Environment: The Science Behind The Stories 3rd Edition Pearson Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco

(The bookstore should have these bundled together.)


·         Reading:  Assignments are to be read prior to each class.  Each test will include a number of questions that are not covered in class but can be answered if you read your book.  Assignments are listed on the calendar and in BlackBoard

·         Tests cover all material covered or assigned to date of exam.

·         Current events:  The students will be required to find 2 current events and report on them. All papers must be presented at a level 4 in accordance with the OCTC expectations

·         Human Impact Paper Students will investigate and write a paper pertaining to their personal environmental impact All papers must be presented at a level 4 in accordance with the OCTC expectations although the word “I” is allowed on the assignment

·         Discussions on BlackBoard: Students participate in various discussions on the BlackBoard website.  In accordance with level 2 of the OCTC expectations although the word I is allowed on the assignment.

·         Class Discussions: Readings to be discussed in class

·         Homework or class work as assigned

·         Attendance & Participation: 10% of the lecture grade (prior to the final). Participation means taking part in class discussions.  Poor attendance can affect the final grade.


Grading Criteria:

Letter grades are not given for individual papers and tests.  The lecture grade will be based on the percentage earned of total possible points on the human impact paper report, current events reports, homework, attendance, exams, end of term final, BlackBoard discussion and involvement in class discussions.


(26% of the grade)

200 points

3 exams

(40% of the grade)

100 points each

2 current events

(13% of the grade)

50 points each

Human Impact Paper

(13% of the grade)

100 points

Discussions on BlackBoard

5 to 10 points each (about 50 points total)

Class Discussions

5 points each response 10 points maximum per day for a total of 25 points for the semester

Attendance & Participation

50 points

Tests will be returned during the following lecture.  Test grades will not be given out early.  Do not call or ask for grades; however I may have them posted on BlackBoard.  I will send an e-mail.  Do not call and ask me.

 Grading Scale:      A    90-100 %

        B    80-89

        C    70-79

        D    60-69

        E     Less than 60%           The grades will not be curved.

Make-Up Work:

·         Exams can only be made up if I have received prior notice. Exams are made up only in emergency situations.  If a student is going to miss an exam I expect a phone call or an e-mail before the test time. If the student does not contact me I may not let them make up the test. I will not track students down to remind them about missed tests.  The test must be made up during or before the next class. No more than one week later.  Any student that sits through a review of the test results before making up the test will receive a 0 even if plans were made to make up the test.  This is the student’s responsibility.  Not knowing about an exam, not being ready for an exam or missing the week before are not valid excuses.

·         This class is worth 3 college credits.  To earn these credits you are expected to attend class and turn in your work. Failure to turn in any of the 3 papers will result in a lower grade for the semester

·         Late assignment and papers will lose 5 points a day.  (Not per class.  A paper due Tuesday and turned in on Thursday will lose 10 points) They are accepted for only one week after the due day.  Do not hand them to me later. After one week they have lost too many points.   This includes major papers. There will be no excuses.  Late BlackBoard assignments can not be made up. 

·         Missed Classed Discussions cannot be made up. There are 25 points available.  I will not be recording discussion grades every day.  You cannot receive any more than 10 points per day.



Excessive absence will result in an automatic lowering of the student’s grade.

3 days missing lowers the percent lecture grade 5%

4 days missing lowers the percent lecture grade 10%

5 days missing lowers the percent lecture grade 15%.

Anything more is the equivalent of missing 3 weeks and is an automatic fail unless the student withdraws.

 I do not except excused absences.  A missed lecture is a missed lecture, the reason behind the absence does not matter. The student is expected to attend every lecture for the full amount of time that it is scheduled.  Do not schedule any appointments during class time.  Doctors have office hours that do not interfere with class, schedule appointments during those hours.   Students are responsible for signing the attendance book before the end of the class.  Attendance is necessary in order to keep up with the course work.  Students are responsible for all material assigned.  Not knowing something is assigned or forgetting that it was assigned is not a valid excused. I will not supply missed notes or assignments.  Do not e-mail and ask for them.


Cheating and Plagiarism:

Students are expected to follow the OCTC Standards For Professional Conduct in regards to plagiarism.  Representing someone else's words or thoughts as your own is plagiarism.  Plagiarism is theft and is considered a serious offense.  This includes exchanging answers on homework and copying from another published or Internet source, by either lifting material directly from a source or borrowing a passage and changing only a few words without attributing it to the source.   In addition, quoting excessively from a source that is attributed is also plagiarism. Copying from your book is also considered plagiarism. 

 Your work must be your own. To avoid plagiarizing do not help one another by handing over your work or copying directly from someone else’s paper.  Working together does not translate into copying one another’s assignments. Be careful about how you help one another. To prevent lifting material directly from a source, do not write your papers with the source directly in front of you and do not complete papers by copying from the book. CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Such activities will result in a grade of 0 for that particular exam or assignment. Copied papers and tests will result in failure of the course in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct.  Submitting falsified grades is also plagiarism and will result in failure of the course.

I think ethical behavior is very important and thus I take this very seriously.

 Class Behavior

1.      Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. That includes talking, sleeping, tardiness, and general messing around.   Anyone messing around will be asked to leave.  This material is very difficult and it is hard for the people to understand what is being said if other students are talking.

2.      I will grade as a 0 any papers that are turned in that I suspect have been copied and are not the student’s original work.

3.      NO CELL PHONES.  Students must turn their phones OFF when entering the class or the lab.  If a phone rings the student is expected to pick up their books and leave the class for the day. Do not answer a phone during class or lab time.  Make arrangements with the secretary Barbara Bradley at 686-4632 if someone must be able to reach you. It must be an emergency.

4.      DO NOT TEXT in my class.  You will be asked to leave and you will forfeit your attendance grade for the day.  Texting during tests is cheating and will be treated as such.  Texting during lectures slows the class down and is disruptive to other students.  If you are asked to leave it will be the same as missing that class time.  Your name will be crossed from the attendance book.

5.      OOCTC has a zero tolerance rule with regards to fighting and threatening other students or staff.  Threats will result in the expulsion of the student from the school. Students are expected to follow the OCTC Standards for Professional Conduct at all times.

6.      I cannot talk to family and friends about a student’s grades, attendance, or behavior.  I cannot respond to inquiries made by parents.

 Student Responsibility

1.      The students are expected to generate discussions during class time

2.      Attendance is your responsibility.  Do not tell me you were present but forgot to sign the book.

3.      Students must read all pertinent material.  I will not tell you to read pages x to z. You are expected to read the entire chapter and be able to discuss it in the next class.

4.      Students need to keep track of their own progress.  Talk to me before it is too late to correct your grades.  Frequently students do not appreciate all of the factors that affect their grades.  I cannot help you is you wait until the final to talk to me.

5.      Students are expected to review all materials frequently. Exams will include lecture material, material from the textbook and material from BlackBoard and any additional reading material.

6.      Students must turn their homework in and turn it in on time.

7.      Students must follow all of the assignments instructions

8.      Students are expected to turn in professional work.

9.      Students are expected to follow the Standards For Professional Conduct in regards to personal behavior


  1. Turn your homework in and turn it in on time. Make sure that you hand your homework into me at a time that I can put it in a folder.  I am not responsible for papers that are left in my mailbox, on my desk, or tossed in my lecture box.
  2. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS WHEN HANDING IN PAPERS.  Only ˝ credit will be given to papers that do not follow the assignment instructions
  3. Papers must be stapled and in order (I will take 5 points for papers  not stapled and not in page order)
  4. Any paper not written in blue or black ink or pencil will not be graded.  I do not accept papers written in rainbow colors.
  5. If I cannot read it; I cannot grade, and I will not devote my time to decipher it.
  6. Sign papers with the name that you are registered under. I will not try to find you if you are not listed in my records.
  7. Any number represented without a unit will be marked wrong. (i.e.  There is a difference between a measurement that is 10 grams or 10 pounds.  So don’t tell me the answer was 10.)
  8. Answers that are given in incomplete sentences will be worth only ˝ credit. This does not include questions that ask for a single word or a list of characteristics. If you are not sure, err on the side of caution and write a complete sentence.
  9. Science terms that are spelled wrong will be given only ˝ credit.
  10. All papers will follow Level 4 of Essential Methods of Expression Through Performance and Production: The Written Word and lab assignments are expected to follow Level 2
  11. I will grade as a 0 any papers that are turned in that I suspect have been copied and are not the student’s original work.  This is a serious issue and worth repeating.


·         Students may withdrawal from the class without a grade until August 21st.  October 19th is the last day for students, at their discretion, to officially withdrawal from the class and receive a grade of W.  After this date, students may withdraw and receive a grade of W only with permission of the instructor and only until 12 pm Dec 4th.

·         I will sign a W for any student that has been attending class but cannot complete the course or feels that they need to repeat the course.  You must come into my office during office hours so that I can calculate your grade.  I will not sign drop slips before or after class.  I will fail students that stop attending class and fail to fill out proper drop forms or talk to me within 2 weeks. I will not sign a form for students that have missed most of the semester and then come to me at the last minute to drop. Even if I told you could drop and you show up 4 weeks later with the paperwork. If I give you permission to drop I want the paper work within a week. I do not accept excuses.   If the business office will not let you drop until bills are paid contact me.  I will let you drop when the business office clears you, but I need to know beforehand. Please come and talk to me before you make a decision to drop this class.  Many students feel that they are failing when they are not

OCTC Standards of Professional Conduct                                                                                         

Owensboro Community and Technical College strives to foster academic, professional, and personal excellence in our faculty, staff, and students.  Because we recognize it is through our interaction with others that our own potential can be realized, we seek to nurture actions and characteristics which promote our mutual growth as individuals and as an organization.  This development can be assisted by conscious encouragement of professionalism in all forms of interaction involving faculty, staff, and students.  For this reason, we are committed to developing professional attitudes toward academic activities and personal growth.     

Recognition as a professional is something to be earned – a reputation that is developed and maintained every day.  Professionalism is a way of being, knowing, and doing that sets one apart.  It gives direction to how a person looks, behaves, thinks, and acts.  It brings together one’s identity, what one values, how one treats other people, and what one contributes in the classroom and in the workplace.  Professionals view their work as a source of pride and as a reflection of the role they play in society. 

Growth as a professional is possible for employees at all levels of experience and education.  The development and refinement of a strong work ethic should be a personal goal throughout one’s life.  Since people develop as individuals in communion with others, the particular actions and characteristics will vary as greatly as the number of experiences that arise; certain traits, however, can be identified that further positive human interaction rather than hinder it.  The integration of these traits in each person is, then, the central goal of our effort.  Professional integrity results from a combination of positive character traits, a respect for self and others, and the assumption of responsibility as individuals and as a learning community.

 Essential Methods of Expression Through Performance and Production: The Written Word

All papers will be presented at Level 4

Expression at this level would be tailored to the needs of the audience/customer/class/instructor.  When including outside research, APA format will be followed. Complete sentences are required, and grammar, mechanics, and spelling are evaluated

Note: Students writing at Levels 2, 3, and 4 would not use “I” or “you” unless otherwise instructed to do so.  Students are to follow the forms in the official APA books.  

** “I” will be allowed on the Human Impact Paper but the word “you” is not allowed.**

BlackBoard assignments will exhibit at least Level 2: Complete sentences are required, and correct grammar and spelling should be used.

 Course Specific Competency

I.  Communicate Effectively

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

1.    Read and listen with comprehension

Assessment methods may include reading assignments, class discussions, and exam questions

2. Speak and write clearly using Standard English.

Assessment methods may include writing assignments, and discussions on BlackBoard

3.  Interact cooperatively with others using both verbal and non-verbal means

Assessment methods may include discussions on BlackBoard and in class.

4.      Demonstrate information procession through basic computer skills

Assessment methods may include gathering material from the web-site and interacting with BlackBoard and researching various papers.

II.    Critical Thinking

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

1.      Make connections in learning across disciplines and draw logical conclusions

Assessment methods may include discussions on ecology as biological vs. social-economic factors, historical discoveries, and the relevance of politics, demographics, and economics in ecology...

2.      Demonstrate problem solving through interpreting, analyzing, summarizing, and/or integrating a variety of materials.

Assessment methods may include discussion and interpretation of current events, human impact papers, exams and discussions on BlackBoard.

3.  Use mathematics to organize, analyze, and synthesis data to solve a problem.

Assessment methods may include discussion, current events, and human impact reports.

III. Learn Independently

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

1.      Use appropriate search strategies and resources to find, evaluate, and use information

Assessment methods may include reading assignments, current events, and researching and writing human impact papers.

2.      Make choices based upon awareness of ethics and different peoples perspectives and ideas

Assessment methods may include discussion, assignments, and/or examination questions on bioethical issues.

3.  Apply, learning in academic, personal, and public situations

Assessment methods may include discussions on BlackBoard, assignments, and/or examination questions on case studies, human impact papers, and current events.

4.  Think creatively to develop new ideas, processes, or products.

Assessment methods may include discussions on BlackBoard, assignments, and/or examination questions on human interaction with the external environment.


IV. Examine Relationships in Diverse and Complex Environments

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

1.  Recognize the relationship of the individual to human heritage and culture

Assessment methods may include written assignments and questions on exams and quizzes human interaction with biological environment in terms of bioethical issues, humans as biological vs. sociopsychological being, and historical discoveries

2.  Demonstrate and awareness of the individual to the biological and physical environment.

Assessment methods may include written assignments and questions on exams and quizzes on human interaction with the external environment.

3.      Develop an awareness of self as an individual of a multicultural global community

Assessment methods may include discussion and interpretation of case studies and current events where group work is emphasized.


 Class Schedule:

The instructor reserves the right to change the syllabus.  The dates for exams may be changed so that we are free to adjust the amount of time needed for each topic.  You are expected to keep up with test dates as they are established. Due to time constraints I am limited in the amount of material that I can present.  You are expected to fill in the rest by reading the text.  You are expected to read the entire chapter because I will test on material not covered in class.