General Botany

Course Details

Course Number: 1544  Section Number: 201

Spring 2014

Location: Bolin Hall

Classroom Number: 100

Days & Times:

MWF @ 11-11:50; plus 1 lab per week

Course Attachments

Syllabus  S2014 MWF Botany Syllabus-20140108-084839.pdf


Stern's Introductory Plant BiologyThe Green Kingdom
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 their relationships to their environments. 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

Although listed separately, these topics overlap considerably, and you should therefore make every effort to synthesize the material that is covered. 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 (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) environment by explaining how plants are the primary producers of food and oxygen, 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 (photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration and secondary metabolic pathways).
  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 how variation among plants affects their survival and reproduction by explaining how
    1. Diversity 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.
    4. Plants produce a variety of secondary metabolic compounds that allow them to interact effectively with other organisms in their environments.
  8. 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.


Grading Standards

Final Grade Assessment

Final grades will be calculated using the following distributions:


                Lecture portion of the course:                  75% of final grade

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


The lecture grade will be assessed based off of straight points. Points can be earned as follows:

  1. A total of 16 quizzes will be given @ 10 points each for 160 points total. Because the two lowest scores will be dropped, quizzes will be assessed out of 140 points.
  2. A total of 4 homework assignments will be given @ 25 points each for 100 points total. Two homework assignments will be given before the midterm, and two homework assignments will be given after the midterm.
  3. One 50 point biological literature assignment will be given (this is to assess your ability to identify and correctly cite primary and secondary biological journal articles).
  4. One 120 point midterm, formatted as follows:
    1. In-class exam: 50 multiple choice questions worth 2 points each (100 points total)
    2. Take-home exam: 2 essay questions worth 10 points each (20 points total)
      1. These questions will be given to you 1 week prior to the in-class exam.
      2. The answers will be due as soon as you walk into the in-class exam. Answers must be typed and MUST represent your own work (you are not allowed to work together, seek help from other instructors, etc.)
      3. One question will ask you to design an experiment
      4. One question will be drawn from the biological literature
  5. One 200 point comprehensive final exam, formatted as follows:
    1. In-class only: 100 multiple choice questions worth 2 points each (200 points total)
    2. Half of the exam (50 questions) will be on material covered for the midterm
    3. Half of the exam (50 questions) will be on new material covered since the midterm
  6. Participation worth 40 points; consistent attendance, participation in class discussions, good conduct can all earn points while poor attendance, lack of participation and deductions for cell phone abuse, etc. can lose points.


Overall, the lecture is worth 650 points. On a straight point scale, therefore, you will need to earn 90% of these available points (i.e., 585 points) to earn an A in the lecture (representing 75% of you final grade in the course). At any given time, you can take the points you have earned in the lecture and divide them by the points available at that point to determine your running percentage in the lecture.


Overall, final course 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 90% or better on every assignment, you should not expect to get an A in the course.


NOTE: For student-athletes, students on scholarship, or students who need specific grades to enter a student organization, academic program, keep financial aid, or graduate, you must start earning your minimum grade requirement 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. Do NOT dig yourself a hole with poor grades and then expect someone to save you.


Final Exam5/5/2014  10:30am - 12:30pm

Submission Format Policy

See Assignments.

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

Late Assignment Policies

  1. All assignments are to be physically turned in by the student to the instructor prior to the beginning of class on the day that the assignment is due.
    1. Students who come late to class will not be allowed to turn in their assignments.
    2. Assignments are posted well in advance and due dates are clearly outlined; there is no excuse for not turning in homework on time.
    3. All assignments to be physically turned in to the instructor must be typed (except in-class assignments which will be written).
    4. No assignments will be accepted via email.
  2. D2L assignments must be completed prior to the date and time specified on the assignment.
    1. Assignments will be disabled on the due date and time and will not be re-enabled.
    2. Because it is your responsibility to check D2L often, “I didn’t know” is not an excuse for missing online assignments or their deadlines.
  3. No late assignments will be accepted from any student for any reason.
    1. Athletes, school group participants, those leaving for family events, etc. should turn in their assignments before they leave.
    2. Emergencies (e.g., medical) the day the assignment is due that prevents a student from turning in the assignment (but not from completing the assignment) may be given consideration (to be determined case by case). Printer problems are NOT an emergency.

Assignments will either be posted on D2L or will be handed out in class. Due dates will be announced, but students will not be constantly reminded to turn in their assignments. Assignments should be stapled (if necessary) BEFORE they are turned in to the instructor.


Quiz Policies

  1. Quizzes will be given every Friday throughout the semester, including the Friday of Spring Break and the Friday of the Easter Break (these latter two quizzes will be given via D2L and will be open for a period of 1 week).
    1. Each quiz will be worth 10 points and will consist of 6 multiple choice questions worth 1 point each and 1 short answer question that will be worth 4 points. These questions will be very similar to questions that will appear on your exams.
    2. Quizzes will be physically handed out and given at the very beginning of the class period. If you come late, you will NOT be allowed to take the quiz.
    3. You will have no more than 10 minutes to take each quiz (including D2L quizzes).
    4. Disability students must take their quizzes under the same conditions as all other students in the lecture room.
  2. There will be no make-ups for missed quizzes.
  3. The two lowest quiz grades will be dropped. As the grade for a missed quiz is a “zero”, these will be dropped first when assessing the final grade. A total of 16 quizzes will be given during the semester, but only the 14 highest grades will be counted.


Exam Policies

  1. There will be 1 (one) midterm and 1 (one) comprehensive final.
    1. Exam dates are listed on the Lecture Schedule and will not be moved.
    2. No make-up midterms will be offered if the midterm is missed, regardless of the reason the exam is missed.
    3. Students are not allowed to miss the final exam. Failure to take the final exam will result in an F in the course.
    4. All graduating seniors are required to take the final exam.
  2. Students with a legitimate, excusable reason for missing the midterm will be given consideration. A make-up exam will not be offered, but a substitute score based on the portion of the comprehensive final corresponding to the midterm will be used to replace the zero received.


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, emergency room documentation)
  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; immediate family only – best friends, great aunts, etc. don’t count)

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.


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 Policies

  1. Lecture attendance is required; it is not optional.
  2. Lecture will begin promptly on the hour; students are expected to be in their seats, ready to begin, and will be marked absent if they are not.
  3. Students are expected to have read all required materials before walking into class.
  4. Students with perfect attendance in the lecture will receive a 1% bonus to their overall lecture grade in the course.
  5. Students with excessive absences may be dropped from the course and will be referred to the Dean of Students.
  6. No make-ups will be given for missed quizzes or assignments due to lack of attendance, regardless of the reason you did not attend.
  7. No make-ups will be given for the midterm; however, under special circumstances (see section on exams), consideration will be given and a substitute grade offered.
  8. No one is allowed to miss the final. Missing the final exam will result in an “F” for the course.

To monitor attendance, a seating chart and attendance sign-in sheet will be kept. Students who sign-in for students that are not present will be referred to the Dean of Students. Because quizzes and assignments cannot be made-up and because exams are written off of my lectures, attendance of the lecture is critical. If you need to leave class early, it must be for a good reason and you must tell be before class begins or you will be marked absent. 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; nor will you be “excused” so as to maintain perfect attendance. 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 Policies

  1. Laboratory attendance is required; it is not optional.
  2. Students are expected to have read all required materials before walking into lab.
  3. 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.
    1. It is your responsibility to notify your TA of the reason for your absence and to provide documentation for that absence.
    2. 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.
    3. Un-excused absences will not be eligible for make-ups.
  4. Students with THREE or more unexcused lab absences will fail the lab portion of the course.
  5. The laboratory cannot be taken separately from the lecture.


Other Policies

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-sponsored 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.


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.



Course Policies Regarding Disruptive Behavior

Out of general courtesy to everyone, 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 lecture except during discussion periods or to ask questions of the instructor; talking to your friends, even to ask a question, is disruptive and will prevent other students in the class from hearing what I am saying
  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 eat or drink in class unless you can do so quietly; no one needs to listen to crinkling food wrappers or worse, listen to you chew or slurp
  7. 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.


Policy on Electronic Devices [READ THIS TWICE]

  1. Turn off or silence (note: vibrate is not the same as silent) all cell phones, pagers, music players/headphones, and other electronic devices that make noise or have the potential to disrupt the class before you walk into the room.
    1. Class should never be disrupted because of someone’s cell phone going off.
    2. NO cell phones are permitted to be out and/or in my (or your) sight in this class.
      1. If your phone is out and/or in sight and/or you are caught using it, you will be asked to put it away and you will lose 1% from your final lecture grade in the course for each violation.
      2. Should your phone ring/vibrate during class, you are dismissed for the day and you will lose 1% from your final lecture grade in the course for each violation.
      3. If you want to use your phone to record the lecture, it must be placed at the front of the room and out of your reach.
  2. No laptops are allowed except as follows:
    1. If you are a disability student or a non-disability student wishing to use your laptop to take notes, you may petition me for permission to use your laptop.
    2. You will be asked to sign a statement guaranteeing that your internet will be disabled during class.
    3. If you are caught violating the no-internet agreement, you will lose 1% from your final lecture grade in the course for each violation.


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 2012-2013 MSU Student Handbook, p. 83-84:


“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 if 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.


Instructor Drops

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


“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 or turning in work that consistently receives a failing grade.


Intellectual Property

By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course. The “limited right” shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.


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.