Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ)

*Note: A great source of information is the "Guide" window that comes up on each of the EarthEd screens. Look at the "Guide" first to see if it has a section that covers your question.

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Writing Assignments  
Questions of the Day  
Final Exam  
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updated: March 11, 2004

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Why do I have to do the homeworks before the lab section?

The homeworks are designed to prepare you for the lab section by reading the book and answering questions about the material. This helps you get the most from the lab sections.

How do I tell my grades? What if the software says that I am late?

The software tells you that you are late when you open the homework after the "due time" that the professor specifies in the setups. You may not get penalized for being late. For example, the first assignment has no penalties for late entries until after the first week is over.

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Writing Assignments

What is the purpose of the writing assignments?

This paper is the best way to really involve you in the course material. It provides you with writing skills that will be useful in many other UCSB classes and in your future professional life. Edward Lytton (1805-1873) says: "The pen is mightier than the sword". The written word is powerful and allows you to pursuade, express yourself, and put down the results of your work. It is a vital skill in the modern world. The writing exercise uses a technical paper format, which can be modified to many other writing forms, as well.

What do I write for the writing assignments?

The best way to find this out is to carefully read the lab book, where the writing assignments are assigned. Also read the section entitled: "How to write a Science Paper." It provides you with all you need.

How do I get a better grade on the writing assignments?

The best way to get the highest grade is to do more than the minimum assignment, as specified in the lab book. But, first do the minimum, then add to it.

Here are some grade-enhancing tips:

  • Come to class! The mid-term paper is discussed often during lectures. If you miss class, you may miss critical information.
  • Keep up! This is not a class you can get behind in, then cram at the last minute. Weekly assignments and lab section work prepare you for future assignments. If you get behind, your grade will suffer and you will have to work much harder to do the work.
  • Pay attention to the class online forums. In these forums you can share you knowledge with other students and ask questions that others, including the TA's and Prof may answer.
  • Study the lab manual material describing the writing assignments.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to do an assignment. Begin thinking about your topic early.
  • Carefully read the grading rubric, in the lab manual, which tells how the paper will be graded.
  • Ask a question, then try to find data to answer it. You might want to talk to the professor or TA to make sure your question is one you can solve.
  • Most of all, realize that many students have done a fine job on the writing assignments, and you can too. Relax, read instructions, talk to TA, professor, and friends.

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Questions of the Day

Why do I have Questions of the Day (QOTD)?

I have found that the QOTD's help students focus on the important points of the lecture. They are also useful for studying for the final exam, as they identify the most important points in the class.

QOTD's also encourage students to attend class. I believe that the lectures are important. Without them, you miss the professor's perspective on the material. You also miss critical information about class assignments.

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Final Exam

The Final exam only counts for 20% of your grade. It's purpose is to encourage you to review the entire body of the course material. The final exam is based on course background information.

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How do homeworks, lecture, and labs connect?

This course requires you to a) acquire knowledge of oceanography facts and concepts (background information), b) conceptual knowledge of processes that explain how physical phenomena occur, c) create scientific arguments and think critically about science, and d) understand how science and environmental policy work together. The lecture is meant to bring all aspects of the course together. It covers content, software problems, writing, and other information to help you do well in the course. The homework, quizzes, and thought questions focus on background information that you need to be successful in your lab and writing activities. The labs are intended to help you use the background knowledge to create coherent scientific and policy positions.