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MWF 9:00-10:00 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 48450


John Scalo

RLM 15.204 · (512) 471-6446 [office], or 478-2748 [home] · email

Courses - Spr '09  |  Course Website

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Quizzes: I will give a series of short (~ 5 min) quizzes that will consist of simple questions covering the material you should have read before class and that was covered in the previous lecture. These quizzes will be coarsely graded as 2 (adequate answer), 1 (you answered, but incorrect), or 0 (not turned in). Quizzes are intended to force you to keep up with the reading (difference between a 1 and 2), and because many students prefer not to have their entire grade determined by long and (more difficult) exams. In this way, a student can be steadily earning credit through other means. I expect about 5-10 of these through the semester, perhaps more frequent during the last half of the semester. You will see a stack of note cards on a table at the front of the classroom at the beginning of class, signaling that a quiz will take place at the beginning of class.

Ten percent of your grade will be based on these quizzes.

Final grades: Final grades are assigned on the basis of A=87-100, B=78-86.9, C=67-77.9, D=55-66.9, F<55. Final percentages will not be "rounded up." For example, if you end up with a 77.8, you will receive a C. There is no possibility of “extra credit”--I would have to offer the same opportunity to all students.

Just under the cutoff? If at the end of the semester you are just under the cutoff for a grade (by, say, one, or two, or 0.3, percentage points), whether you are just under a D, say, or an A, do not call Prof. Scalo asking him to lower the cutoff--this is unfair to all concerned. Cutoffs will not be lowered to accommodate your individual score. Scores at the end of the semester are not rounded up, so, for example, a 77.7 will get you a C.

Departmental policies: Please download and read the "Memo to Undergraduate Astronomy Students regarding Astronomy Courses" at if you did not receive it in class.

Special requests: If you have any special request of any sort (excluding those not allowed, like lowering the grade cutoff), please put the request in writing, preferably by email, or call me on the phone. Please state clearly and explicitly your request and why it is reasonable. Include a phone number so that I can contact you about your request. Obviously (I hope) this procedure does not apply to minor requests such as “Could you stop twitching so much during your lectures?,” etc. Any suggestions for improvement of the class as we proceed will be greatly appreciated--an email is usually the easiest way.

Attendance: Keep in mind that the exams are weighted toward the lecture material, as well as the textbook readings, and that the "notes" that I will usually make available to you are only bare outlines or abstracts of my lectures. In addition, frequent absences will affect your earned points on pop quizzes. I therefore urge you to attend all classes.

Suggestions for success: Read ahead before each lecture: take class notes: after studying the material, do assigned “homework” questions; and most importantly, look at material as often as possible, even if it means 15 minutes every day. Finally, attempt to talk about the material, to yourself or someone else or an inanimate object if necessary. My experience is that students who can explain the material in everyday language do well on the exam. The biggest single danger in this course is to fall far enough behind, either through lack of reading or spotty attendance, that you cannot really understand the material being covered. Subsequent chapters will almost certainly seem obscure.

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