General Botany

Course Details

Course Number: 1544  Section Number: 102

Fall 2013

Location: Bolin Hall

Classroom Number: 209

Days & Times:

This course meets TR from 8:00-9:20am for lecture, and either M or T for lab.

Course Attachments

Fall 2013 syllabus TR  FALL2013 Botany Syllabus TR-20130821-092422.docx


Stern's Introductory Plant Biology 13/EThe Green Kingdom: What is a Plant?
MSU Faculty Member
Elizabeth Ann Machunis-Masuoka PhD   
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Course Objectives

Purpose of the Course

The science of botany includes the study of plants and of their relationships to their environments, and the purpose of this course is to introduce you to the science of botany. Four core concepts will be emphasized:

  1. Ecosystem dynamics, including organismal interactions and energy flow
  2. Structures and processes, including unique plant structures, growth and development, resource acquisition, and information processing
  3. Heredity, including the inheritance and variation of traits
  4. Evolution, including biological diversity, natural selection, adaptation and human impacts on diversity

This course will taught at an introductory level, but some concepts are complex. If you are having trouble with a concept, please come see me as soon as possible to avoid problems that may negatively affect your grade.


Course Goals

Based on the recommendations of the American Society of Plant biologists (ASPB) and the Botanical Society of America (BSA), by the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Explain how plants interact with the living and non-living environment by explaining how plants are the primary food and oxygen producers, form the foundations of all ecosystems, and live in dynamic relationships with other organisms.
  2. Explain how matter and energy move through an ecosystem by demonstrating how
    1. Energy first enters ecosystems through photosynthesis.
    2. Plants cycle oxygen, carbon dioxide, water, and other nutrients through different chemical processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration and other types of metabolism.
  3. Explain what happens to ecosystems when the environment changes by describing how diversity sustains resilience and how environmental changes, which alter ecosystems, affect plant populations.
  1. Explain how the structures of plants enable their life functions by describing how plants growing in various environments have a diversity of structures for acquiring and retaining water, exchanging gases, optimizing photosynthesis, defending against disease and predation, growing and reproducing.
  2. Explain how plants grow and develop by explaining how plants can reproduce sexually and asexually, grow from single cells and retain groups of undifferentiated and dividing cells throughout their lives, and produce and respond to hormones that regulate growth and development.
  3. Explain how plants obtain and use matter and energy to live and grow by explaining how plants capture light energy to assimilate inorganic carbon dioxide into organic compounds through photosynthesis and take up and transport inorganic materials from their surroundings.
  4. Explain how plants detect, process, and interpret information from the environment and other organisms by explaining how signals transmitted through a plant can induce changes in gene expression, protein activity, and protein turnover.
  5. Explain why individuals of the same species vary in how they look (phenotype) and behave by explaining how gene expression in plants is controlled by genetic and environmental cues.
  6. Explain how the characteristics of one generation are related to the characteristics of the previous generation by explaining how plants vary in their reproductive strategies, including methods that lead to both genetically similar and genetically novel offspring.
  7. Describe the evidence showing that different species are related by giving examples of genes found in common among many organisms, explaining the endosymbiotic theory, and describing how DNA sequences have helped establish the relationships among major plant clades and between plants and other organisms.
  8. Describe and give examples of how variation among plants affects their survival and reproduction by explaining how
    1. Diversity of organisms at the chromosome and gene level can be generated, resulting in the variation underlying evolution by natural selection.
    2. Some plant species can survive a diverse and changing environment, while others cannot.
    3. The environment influences populations of plants over multiple generations and how these plants adapt to the environments in which they are found.
  9. Explain the meaning of the term biodiversity and explain how
    1. Diversity of plant species is important for the long-term health of an ecosystem.
    2. Human activity has affected global plant diversity, especially through the alteration of habitats, and affected almost every aspect of crop plants, including their structure, reproduction, genetics, and adaptation.
    3. Agriculture shapes human populations, including their size, distribution, and cultures.

Course Expectations
  1. YOU are responsible for YOU. As adults, you are expected to take full responsibility for your choices, actions, and the results of those choices and actions. You must choose what your priorities are, and if college is not your priority, then you must accept that your college career will suffer.
  2. CLASS ATTENDANCE is expected. You may choose to attend or not, I cannot make you, but if you choose not to attend, remember that it has consequences.
  3. Taking notes means writing something down; studying means more than just reading what you wrote. To be successful in college, you should take notes in class, rewrite those notes at least once a week, and prepare study notes for exams. Highlighting, skimming notes, etc. do not work in the long term and will hurt you in the short term.
  4. Strive for GOOD grades rather than MINIMAL grades. This should be obvious, but often students enter a classroom (particularly in a subject they don’t like) with the attitude of just getting by. If you want to “just get by”, chances are you will shoot so low you will miss a passing grade entirely.
  5. THE BEST STUDENTS STUDY EVERY DAY. As a rule, for every 1 hour you spend in class you should be spending 3 hours outside of class studying for it. You MUST do more work in college than you did in high school!!!
  6.  “Cramming” for exams DOES NOT WORK. If you cram, you will most likely fail, but at the very least, you will short-change your own education. If you choose to cram and you do not do well, do not complain about your poor grade.
  7. YOU are responsible for the grade you earn. I am a facilitator; I help make the material approachable and understandable, but I do not work in a vacuum. The work you turn in is the product of YOUR knowledge. If you do not like the grades you earn, the only way to change them is to change the knowledge inside of you. If you need help, ask for it and I will help you.

Grading Standards

Final Grade Assessment

Final grades will be calculated as follows:


                Lecture portion of the course:                   75% of final grade

                Lab portion of the course:                            25% of final grade (normalized)


The lecture grade will be broken down as follows:


                15%        Midterm #1

                15%        Midterm #2

                30%        Comprehensive Final

20%        In-class Assessments (Critical Thinking Quizzes; Scientific Literacy/Writing; Group Interactive Assignments, etc.)

20%        Homework (On-line quizzes; Concept maps; Reading/Response/Interpretation; Metric System/Mathematics for the Sciences; Scientific Citations; Scientific Research)


Note: all exams (including the final) will consist of open-ended questions (short-answer, longer-answer). There will be no multiple choice, fill-in, etc. on the exams.


Grade ranges are based on points and cumulative scores (rather than individual assignments or exams). Overall, final grades will be based on the following scale: A (90% or higher); B (80-89.9%); C (70-79.9%); D (60-69.9%); F (59.9% or less). An A percentage-wise in the lecture and an A percentage-wise in the lab will give you an A in the course. If you do not get As on all assignments, you should not expect to get an A in the course. Grades are based on points, not curves, but the final course grades will be scaled to the highest student score, if necessary (whether the course is scaled cannot be determined until the end; thus, if you want an A, you should plan on getting 90% or more of the points for every assignment from the beginning).


NOTE: For student-athletes, students on scholarship, or students who need specific grades to enter a student organization, academic program, or to keep financial aid, you must start earning your minimum grade requirement to keep yourself on the team, on scholarship, or get into your program starting on the first day of class. Students whose academic careers are dependent on a minimum GPA should be even more motivated than the general student population to earn the grades that will keep them in school. Grades cannot and will not be adjusted at the end of the semester to help you “make” the needed grade just to keep you in school. If you wish to continue at MSU or any other school, you must earn the right to do so, just as every other student must do so. Do NOT dig yourself a hole with poor grades and then expect someone to save you.

Final Exam12/12/2013  8-10am

Submission Format Policy

Per instructions for each assignment type.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Policy on Late Assignments

No late assignments will be accepted from any student for any reason. This is a non-negotiable policy. Assignments are due at the beginning of class (once I begin lecturing, no assignments will be accepted). You may not email assignments to me (unless requested to do so) and I will not continually remind you that assignments are due. It is your responsibility to note the due dates and allow sufficient time to complete them. Having printer problems before class or forgetting assignments in your room/car are not acceptable reasons for handing material in late. Assignments must be stapled (if necessary) prior to being turned in!


Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Lecture Attendance Policy

The botany lecture is designed to provide conceptual understanding of key topics in the field, to provide basic science literacy, and to familiarize students with the basic scientific literature. In-class quizzes and assignments cannot be made-up, and exams are written based on my lectures, not the textbook. Because of these factors, attendance of the lecture is required. Class will begin promptly on the start of the hour and you must be in your seat ready to begin. An attendance sheet and seating chart will be kept. If you are not in your seat when I start lecturing, you will be marked absent even if you come in late. If you need to leave class early, it must be for a good reason and you must tell me before class begins or you will be marked absent. You may, of course, choose to ignore the attendance requirement, but if you do, do not ask for make-up assignments or wonder why your grade ends up being poor. Moreover, do not email me regarding lecture absences or bring doctor’s notes, etc. if you miss lecture. It does not matter why you miss, you were still absent and no make-ups will be given. Group work in class also cannot be made up. If you miss lecture, it is up to you to find out from another student what was missed and obtain notes from other students, as I do not provide notes.


For further information on Class Attendance policies, see the MSU Student Handbook, available online through the Student Life section of the MSU website.


Laboratory Attendance Policy

Botany at MSU is a laboratory-based science, which means that laboratory attendance is required in this course. Excused lab absences must be for dire situations or because of university sanctioned events and any make-ups of missed material is at the discretion of the lab TA. It is your responsibility to notify your TA of the reason for your absence and to provide documentation for that absence. Excused absences must be accompanied by written verification of the reason for the absence that is written and signed on official letterhead (e.g., a doctor’s note on clinic letterhead/clinic absence form). If you fail to meet these requirements, the absence will be declared un-excused. Un-excused absences will not be eligible for make-ups. Students with THREE or more lab absences will fail the lab portion of the course. The laboratory cannot be taken separated from the lecture.


University-Sponsored Teams and Organizations

All members of in-season sports teams or other campus organizations who will be missing class because of university sanctioned events MUST present to me a written statement on university letterhead and signed by a university official indicating those dates that will be missed because of travel or participation in the university event. Athletics documentation must be presented to me within the first 2 weeks of the beginning of the semester. Other documentation (such as for theater, etc.) must be presented to me at least one week prior to the time that will be missed.

Other Policies

Course Policies Regarding Disruptive Behavior

Out of general courtesy to me, your instructor, and to your classmates, please observe the following policies:

  1. Do not walk through the classroom or leave once class has begun (exception: sudden illness)
  2. Do not talk during lectures or exams except during discussion periods or to ask questions of the instructor
  3. Do not engage in disruptive or disrespectful behavior
  4. Do not cheat on exams or assignments (see Student Handbook)
  5. Do not play games on your electronic devices or play with your social media sites, do homework for other classes, read books or newspapers, sleep, listen to music, etc. during the lecture
  6. Do not be rude or disrespectful to your TA or fellow lab students


Disruptive students will be given one (1) verbal warning to improve their behavior. Second offenders will be asked to leave the classroom and will be referred to the Dean of Students. Abusive students will be dismissed from the class permanently. The instructor reserves the right to amend these rules as necessary throughout the term.


Policy on Electronic Devices [READ THIS TWICE]

Turn off or silence (note: vibrate is not the same as silent) all cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices that make noise or have the potential to disrupt the class before you walk into class. Class should never be disrupted because of someone’s cell phone going off. NO cell phones are permitted to be out and/or in my (or your) sight in this class. If you want to use your phone to record the lecture, it must be placed at the front of the room. Laptops may only be used to take notes and only after receiving permission from the instructor for its use. If your phone is out and/or in sight, you will be asked to put it away and you will lose 2 points off of your final grade for each offense. If you are caught doing anything other than taking notes on your laptop, you will be asked to turn your laptop off and you will lose 2 points off of your final grade for each offense. Should your phone ring/vibrate during class, or your laptop sound incoming mail, etc., you are dismissed for the day. You are to silence your device immediately and quietly leave. You will be counted absent for the day. Continued abuse of the electronics policy will result in referral to the Dean of Students.


Instructor Drops

The following is quoted from the MSU Student Handbook, “Instructor Drops”, p. 47 of the 2012-2013 handbook:


“An instructor may drop a student any time during the semester for excessive absences, for consistently failing to meet class assignments, for an indifferent attitude, or for disruptive conduct. The instructor must give the student a verbal or written warning prior to being dropped from the class. An instructor’s drop of a student takes precedence over the student-initiated course drop of a later date. The instructor will assign a grade of either WF or F through the 8th week of a long semester, the 6th week of a 10 week summer term, or the 11th class day of a 4 or 5 week summer term consisting of 20 days. After these periods the grade will be an F. The date the instructor drop form is received in the Office of the Registrar is the official drop date.


A student dropped from a class by a faculty member for disruptive behavior has the right of appeal to the Student Conduct Committee through the Dean of Students office. Although the student will be retained on the class roll, class attendance will be the decision of the instructor.”


Note to students: for the purposes of this course, “consistently failing to meet class assignments” includes consistently not turning in assigned work and/or turning in work that consistently receives a failing grade.


Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are required to register with Disability Support Services (DSS) before classroom accommodations can be provided. The instructor then needs to be notified by the student of the nature of these accommodations. This notification will take the form of an official letter obtained from DSS by the student and given to the instructor. Every effort should be made to provide me with this documentation within the first 2 weeks of the semester to avoid losing accommodations because you failed to provide proper notification in a timely manner. It is always the responsibility of the student to arrange accommodations with DSS. Students with disabilities must still take their exams on the same day as the rest of the class.


University Code of Conduct

For university standards of conduct please refer to the MSU Student Handbook. In general, students are to attend all meetings of all classes; instructors may drop students for excessive absences, indifference, disruptive behavior, or failure to complete class assignments; students are prohibited from cheating, plagiarizing, or colluding. Students are expected to have read the Student Handbook.


Academic Dishonesty

Cheating, plagiarism, and collusion (as well as several other forms of conduct) are all strictly prohibited at MSU. The following definitions and prohibitions regarding Academic Dishonesty are taken from the MSU Student Handbook, p. 83-84 of the 2012-2013 handbook:


“The term “cheating” includes, but is not limited to: (1) use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; (2) dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or (3) the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the university faculty or staff.


The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.


The term “collusion” means collaboration with another person in preparing work offered for credit of that collaboration is not authorized by the faculty member in charge.”


If you are unclear on what may count as cheating, plagiarism, or collusion, please see the instructor or the Dean of Students.


Lecture Exams

Dates for the lecture exams are listed on the Lecture Schedule and will NOT be moved. There will be no make-up exams given to any student for any reason. However, if you have a legitimate, excusable reason for missing one of the midterm exams, a substitute score based on the portion of the comprehensive final corresponding to the missed exam will be used to replace the zero received. Students are NOT allowed to miss the final exam; failure to take the final exam results in a failing grade for the course.


Excusable reasons for missing an exam include the following:

  1. Extreme and verifiable illness (colds and elective procedures don’t count and you must have a doctor’s note verifying you could not come the actual day of the exam)
  2. Accident or injury (must present verification, e.g., tow slip)
  3. MSU sanctioned event (you must be an active participant, not support staff)
  4. Extreme family emergency (e.g., funeral the day of the exam; must show proof)

In all cases, students MUST notify me, the instructor, PRIOR to the start of the exam to receive consideration for an excused absence. If you are physically unable to notify me, then have a friend or family member notify me. Notifying me after the fact will result in an unexcused absence and a zero for the exam.


Inexcusable reasons for missing an exam include the following:

  1. Scheduling doctor/dentist, therapy or other appointments for the day/time of the exam (possible exception: court dates). Note: you can control when your appointments are even if you are told “this is the only time you can come in”, so scheduling conflicts are not an excuse to miss the exam.
  2. Failure to show up (missed bus, forgot, slept in, car problems, etc.)
  3. Weather; If the MSU campus is open, then you need to be here, so if bad weather is forecast, prepare for it. It is your responsibility to check the MSU website for information on weather closures or delays.
  4. Congested exam schedule or overlapping classes
  5. Failure to obtain babysitter or caregiver
  6. Work schedule conflict

In general, none of these excuses will be accepted for missed exams as all of them stem from a lack of responsibility on the part of the student to maintain control over their own schedules. You know exactly when your exams are scheduled, and you should make every effort to take them.


Absolutely no electronic devices of any kind may be used during exams. All exams are closed book and will be monitored for cheating. If you are caught doing anything suspicious, your exam will be taken away from you and you will receive an automatic zero for the exam.


Policy on Late Assignments

No late assignments will be accepted from any student for any reason. This is a non-negotiable policy. Assignments are due at the beginning of class (once I begin lecturing, no assignments will be accepted). You may not email assignments to me (unless requested to do so) and I will not continually remind you that assignments are due. It is your responsibility to note the due dates and allow sufficient time to complete them. Having printer problems before class or forgetting assignments in your room/car are not acceptable reasons for handing material in late. Assignments must be stapled (if necessary) prior to being turned in!


Extra Credit

There isn’t any extra credit, so don’t ask for it. You will not be allowed to turn in missed assignments at the end of the semester in an attempt to fill in zeros on your grade report.

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.