NEU 300 Neurobiology

Fall 2020

Syllabus

Part 1: Course Information

Online from September 2 through December 18

Course content located on Microsoft Class Teams, Flipgrid, and Desire 2 Learn (D2L).

3 credits

This course is an asynchronous online offering. Students can meet all course expectations and goals without participating in synchronous events. Synchronous events like office hours and question and answer sessions will take place throughout the semester but participation is optional.

Description

NEU 300 will allow you to explore how the mammalian nervous system functions. In order to provide insight into experiences like vision, taste, stress, fear, learning, and social bonding, the course will begin by examining basic properties of the cells that make up your nervous system and build to analyzing research data and drawing big picture conclusions about nervous system function.

Objectives

At the end of the course, NEU 300 students will be able to

  • Use the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning framework to generate and support conclusions based on primary literature graphs
  • Predict results of experiments and manipulations based on neuroscience concepts and content presented in the course
  • Communicate science accurately in small group discussions
  • Practice being a strong, reliable team member
  • Evaluate self-learning via metacognitive reflections

Required Textbook

Henley, C. Foundations of Neuroscience. Open Edition. (Free online text. Links to assigned readings will be provided each week).

Required Technology

Students will need access to a laptop or tablet (laptop recommended for exams) and access to reliable internet. A phone and/or webcam is recommended for video discussions.

Learning Technologies

We will use three technologies for learning in NEU 300: on Microsoft Class Teams, Flipgrid, and Desire 2 Learn (D2L).

Disclaimer

As you read through the syllabus, you will encounter a number of tech terms that may not (yet) be familiar to you. Words like Channel and Tab refer to specific places in the Class Team. Don’t get concerned if this seems like a lot to take in right off the bat! We will use the beginning of the semester to get used to navigating the course. There are How To documents once you get into the class. You can start by reviewing the on the digital syllabus. No one is going to lose points because they are struggling with the technology. I am very excited about the Class Teams setup, and I think it provides an active and engaging learning space for our course!

Microsoft Class Teams

Microsoft Class Teams is a tool that is a part of the Office 365 suite of apps made available to all MSU students, staff, and faculty.

Class Teams will be used for the following course components:

  • Scheduling and organizing of assignments (Problem Sets, Synthesis Questions, Learning Reflections, Exams)
  • Distribution of all handouts (Checklists, Learning Objectives, Case Studies)
  • Flipgrid discussions
  • Review videos
  • Informal collaborative chat space with classmates
  • Private chat with me

All announcements, updates, and other information will be shared through the Class Teams. It is recommended that students review their notification settings to make sure announcements are not missed. The mobile app does a great job of alerting when there are new posts! For assignments, each student gets their own copy of the document.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a video sharing site that we will use for weekly discussion forums. Students will be required to record at minimum audio, but preferably video as well. The main reason for a video discussion software is to help with building a Learning Community within the course. It’s too easy to never get to know your fellow students in an online course. This app will help prevent that!

Flipgrid discussions will be accessed through the Class Team.

I would love to see your face in your videos this semester. I believe it helps create a stronger sense of community in our digital learning environment. However, no one is required to record their face for any video submitted in this course. Want to always record your face? Thumbs up. Want to record your face some weeks and not others? Cool. Want to never record you face? No problem. Other video options include (but are not limited to) 

  • Using effects in Flipgrid to add emojis, drawings, gifs, or pixelate your video and hide your face 
  • Taking video of your notes 
  • Taking video of your pets 
  • Taking video of the outdoors 
  • Covering your webcam and recording only audio 
  • Recording your computer screen and a presentation (like my review videos – those are all done using PowerPoint. If you’re interested in knowing more, let me know) instead of using a webcam and uploading the video to Flipgrid 

Desire 2 Learn (D2L)

D2L will be used for the following course components:

  • Gradebook

Technical Assistance

The first week will be learning how to navigate. I do not expect anyone to be an expert in these technologies! You will learn and succeed in the course!

If you need technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem, you can:

Part 2: Instructor Information

Instructor

Dr. Casey Henley (Dr. Henley or Dr. H)

About Me

My name is Dr. Henley (or Dr. H), and I am the Director of Online Programs in the Neuroscience Program. I have been the primary instructor for NEU 300 for 5 years but have played a role in the course for much longer than that. I assisted with the course during my post-doc and graduate school and was even an undergraduate learning assistant after taking the course myself! I love teaching this class and hope we can all have a great experience this summer!

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Instructor

Nikhil Pasula, a recent MSU graduate, will be our course assistant for the summer. Nikhil has quite a bit of experience assisting with the course, and I am very excited to be working with him again! Make sure to reach out to Nikhil with any questions, comments, or concerns throughout the semester.

Office hours: TBD

Pronouns: he/him

Contact Information

Instead of communicating by email, we ask all students to ask us questions via the Chat tool in the Class Team. Only you, Nikhil, and Dr. H can see the content in a private chat. To improve our communication, we ask that at the beginning of your message, you use one (or more, as appropriate) of the following keywords:

  • Content – for questions on course material
  • Grading – for grading questions or concerns
  • Emergency – for any circumstance that affects your ability to proceed with course material
  • General – for topics such as D2L issues (contact tech support first), team issues, or other miscellaneous things that might pop up

IMPORTANT: Please review your notification settings within the Class Team, so you receive notifications when we reply.

Response Time

We will do our best to answer questions posted within the private discussion forum within the following time frames:

  • For Emergency topics: as soon as possible
  • For Content, Grading, and General topics: within 48 hours

Announcements

Updates and information will often be posted on the Class Team. Please make sure you check the weekly channel each time you enter the course.

Suggestions

  • If you have questions about the problem set content, please post in the Unit Channel Posts Tab first. Work collaboratively with your classmates. If you feel your question is not answered sufficiently there, please ask me in your private chat.
  • If you have questions or concerns about grades, please create a message in your private chat with the keyword “Grading.”
  • If you are having issues with D2L or Teams, please contact MSU Tech Support

Part 3: Course Structure

Overview

Neurobiology is divided into Units. For each unit, you will be expected to complete an assigned reading in the textbook, interact with classmates in a discussion forum, submit a problem set assignment, review the week’s material, and submit a learning reflection. As a 3-credit, 15-week course, you should plan to spend about 9 hours each week on course material. This should look like 3 hours (Sat-Sun) to complete the prep material (reading and problem set), 2 hours (Mon-Wed) to complete the discussion, 2 hours )Wed-Thurs) to revise your synthesis question response, and 2 hours (Fri-Sat) to review the material. Problem set and synthesis questions are often complex, requiring you to analyze data or find information outside of the text. Despite this, you should not spend significantly more time than outlined above on the assignment. If you get stuck, give it your best shot.

The assignments are challenging, but educational research shows that when students generate answers to novel problems (like those seen in the problem sets and synthesis questions), it requires higher-order thinking about previously learned material (e.g. from the readings). Recalling learned information strengthens the memory of that content and increases the ability to remember it later. By creating answers, you are actively engaging with the material and not simply receiving knowledge passively, which is often forgotten.

It is also important to know that even if you get the problem set answers incorrect on your initial try, you have still retrieved important knowledge, making connections between old and new information. Additionally, when errors are made initially, as long as those are corrected through feedback (from the video reviews), the errors are not learned. Learning should not be effortless and errorless, but corrective feedback is a necessary step. Embrace the difficulties in the class knowing that they are solidifying your neuroscience knowledge.

Commercialized Lecture Notes

Students may not post recordings or other course materials online or distribute them to anyone not enrolled in the class without the advance written permission of the course instructor and, if applicable, any students whose voice or image is included in the recordings. Please see Part 5: Course Policies for more information.

The Unit

Each student will be assigned to a team of approximately 8-12 students.

A unit consists of

  • Learning Objectives
  • Checklist
  • Reading assignment
  • Case study
  • Problem set
  • Team discussion
  • Synthesis questions
  • Learning Reflection
  • Help forum
  • Review videos for the problem sets and synthesis questions

Learning Objectives

Location: Learning Objective Tab in each Unit Channel

The learning objectives outline the tasks you should be able to complete in preparation for the exam. They are not part of the assignments. There is nothing to submit for a grade, but it is highly recommended that you use the learning objectives to test your knowledge as you study. Each exam question will test a learning objective skill.

Checklist

Location: Checklist Tab in each Unit Channel

Use the checklists to make sure you are completing all the required work for the unit. You can download the document to check off each item.

Reading

Location: In Checklist

Each unit will have a reading assignment from the textbook that gives background information needed for completing the assignments.

Case Study

Location: Case Study Tab in each Unit Channel

Each unit will start with a short case study about a patient. Use the content gained through the reading and problem set assignment to diagnose the individual in the synthesis questions.

Problem Set

Location: Assignment Tab in the General Channel

The problem sets will allow you to engage with the science and develop an understanding of the material; the problem sets will lead you in the right direction for answering the Synthesis Questions. Use the problem sets to help you form questions and answers for the discussion forum. Exams will cover the problem set material.

One problem set assignment will be dropped from the final grade.

Team Discussion

Location: Flipgrid Tab in each Unit Channel

The Flipgrid Discussion is meant to be a space where you can interact with classmates and get help forming your responses for the Synthesis Questions. Use the Synthesis Questions as a guide for your posts and reply. What have you come up with so far for the answers? Where are you having trouble? What did you find exceptionally cool?

Each student will post a reflection on the Synthesis Questions. Acceptable responses will require that you have gone through the entire problem set. After posting the initial response, you will be able to view responses posted by teammates, and you will then post replies to at least two teammates.

The initial discussion post will be graded on effort.  We need to see you working with the content. Your answers to the synthesis questions do not need to be correct at this point, but if it is determined that the given answers do not show an adequate attempt at a response, points will be lost.

Replies to teammates will be based on a rubric that measures both content – correct information, citations, grammar, conciseness, clarity – and teamwork – positive attitude, good listening, reliability. Your posts need to reflect that you have thought about the topic in order to receive points.

One Flipgrid post and one pair of Flipgrid replies will be dropped from the final grade.

Synthesis Question

Location: Assignment Tab in the General Channel

After you have had a chance to discuss the synthesis questions with your teammates, you will submit responses for a subset of questions for grading. The rubric will assess that the answer is correct and will also assess appropriate citations, grammar, conciseness, and clarity.

One synthesis question assignment will be dropped from the final grade.

Learning Reflections

Location: Assignment Tab in the General Channel

One of the best study techniques to learn is metacognition, or the practice of being aware and reflecting on your own thinking and learning. The Unit Reflections will ask you to evaluate your work and answers on the Synthesis Questions in comparison to the answers discussed in the review video. The Exam Reflections will ask you to evaluate your performance on the exams. They will also help me understand where students are having trouble with the content. Please complete the unit reflections after you have watched the Synthesis Question Review Video. Please complete the exam reflections after you have completed the exam and reviewed your responses.

Two Learning Reflections will be dropped from the final grade. NOTE: If you choose not to take the final exam, the last exam learning reflection must be a dropped score.

Help Forum

Each unit will also have a help forum for students to ask (and answer!) questions about the problem set questions directly. This will be located in the Posts Tab of the Unit channels in the Class Teams. If you have a question about the material, most likely someone else does too, so the help forum is there to provide assistance to everyone. Post your questions, but make sure you are specific:

  • What problem set question are you referring to?
  • What do you understand about the question?
  • Where do you need help?

Students are highly encouraged to jump in and answer questions in the help forum. Although participation in the help forum is not required, by answering questions posted by others you are

  • Solidifying the content for your own learning
  • Helping to build our learning community
  • Earning yourself “good neighbor” points

What are good neighbor points? Well, they are not extra points or extra credit for the course. But they are special incentives that could boost your grade at the end of the semester if you are on the border of two grades!

Reviews

The review videos will go over the answers to the problem sets and synthesis questions. Make sure to follow along and use the feedback in the review videos to correct your answers. IMPORTANT: Correcting your misunderstandings is crucial to succeed in the course. The exam covers problem set and synthesis question material.

Exams

Exams will cover the content found in the problem sets and synthesis questions. Exams are written assessments that will follow the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning format. Everyone will be able to take the exams regardless of the content that has been submitted prior.

Exams will each cover 2-3 weeks of material and will not be cumulative (but note that material will build on previous content, so knowledge gained in earlier units cannot be forgotten). 

All course materials (e.g. textbook, problem sets, notes) can be used during the exams, but collaborating with classmates is not allowed.

Instead of giving a cumulative final, I have decided to allow exam revisions at the end of the semester to increase exam scores. Details TBD.

End of Semester Reflection

The End of Semester Reflection is going to ask you to look back on your learning growth during the course. How did you improve on the skills we practiced? How has your neuroscience knowledge grown? How have your study techniques changed? What have you learned about yourself as a learner? How will all this help you as you move forward in your academic and professional career?

Due Dates

Assignments are due by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the date listed.

The Schedule

Content weeks

Each unit will open on Saturday. The initial Fligrid post is due on Tuesday. The Flipgrid replies are due on Wednesday. The Synthesis Questions are due on Thursday. The Unit Learning Reflection is due on Saturday.

Suggested work schedule

  • Saturday and Sunday: Read for the current unit while attempting the problem set
  • Monday and Tuesday: Watch problem set review videos to correct your work. Use background knowledge from readings and problem set to generate responses to the synthesis questions. Share those responses and questions that still exist with teammates in Flipgrid
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: Reply to two teammates in Flipgrid
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Use Flipgrid discussions to revise and submit responses to the synthesis questions
  • Friday and Saturday: Watch synthesis question review video and complete Unit Learning Reflection
  • Every day: Use help forum located in Posts tab

Exam weeks

  • Saturday: receive exam question assignment
  • Tuesday: submit exam assignment
  • Wednesday and Thursday: instructors grade exam
  • Friday: review exam feedback and submit Exam Learning Reflection

Academic Responsibility

It is the responsibility of each student to generate original work for all assignments. This means all submitted work must be in your own words. Plagiarizing from any of, but not limited to, the internet, readings, videos, popular press articles, other students, and/or research articles is grounds for receiving a zero for that assignment. IMPORTANT: This means that even though you are working in teams, the work you submit must be in your own words. Please see Part 6: Course Policies for more information.

Part 4: Grading Policy

Graded Course Activities

Assignment Points Possible Total Points Description
Introduction 24 24 Practice assignments to introduce you to the course structure
Problem Sets 9 on each 72 Top 8 scores from 9 problem sets
Flipgrid Post 15 on each 120 Top 8 scores from 9 discussion posts
Flipgrid Replies (Pair) 12 for pair 96 Top 8 scores from 9 pairs of discussion replies
Synthesis Questions 18 on each 144 Top 8 scores from 9 synthesis question assignments
Learning Reflections 8 on each 96 Top 12 scores from 9 unit reflections and 5 exam reflections
Exams 138 on each 552 4 exams
Exam Revision Project Exam revisions to earn points back on exam scores
End of Semester Reflection 96 96 Multiple choice and short answer; Top 4 scores from 5 exams
Total 1200 Possible points

Grading Scale

Grade Points Percentage Performance
4.0 1116 to 1200 93 to 100% Excellent Work
3.5 1044 to 1115 87 to 92% Nearly Excellent Work
3.0 972 to 1043 81 to 86% Very Good Work
2.5 900 to 971 75 to 80% Good Work
2.0 828 to 899 69 to 74% Average Work
1.5 756 to 827 63 to 68% Below Average Work
1.0 684 to 755 57 to 62% Poor Work
0.0 0 to 683 0 to 55% Failing Work

Viewing Grades

Grades will always be available on the D2L gradebook. Discussions and learning reflection grades are based on participation and will be posted as promptly as possible. Grading for these assignments is based on a serious attempt at answering the question. The answer does not need to be correct to receive points. Answers for the problem sets and synthesis questions will be given in the review videos. The multiple-choice portion of the exams will be automatically graded but will not be available to students until after the exam closes. Short answers will be graded by hand and will not be completed until the day after the exam.

Any grading questions or concerns should be addressed as soon as possible. At most, questions about grades should be submitted within one week of the grade being posted to D2L.

Work Submission Policy

The teamwork nature of this course requires that students keep up to date with their assignments and actively engage in the activities. Since the review videos open immediately after the assignment’s due date, late work cannot be accepted. One Flipgrid post, one pair of Flipgrid replies, one synthesis question, two learning reflections, and one exam will be dropped to accommodate the occasional issue that arises.

Sometimes, though, life gets complicated. In the case that one dropped assignment is not sufficient, please review the guidelines for excuses absences below.

Excused Absences

Illness or Injury

Email me if will be missing the exam/assignment prior to the start of the exam day/due date. Within 24 hours of the missed exam/assignment, provide me with a note from a medical provider that states your name, the name and address of the healthcare provider, the date you were seen, a statement excusing you from classwork for the date you missed for medical reasons, and a signature of the healthcare provider. Notes stating that you were seen but not excused will not be accepted. I recognize that it can sometimes be difficult to see a medical provider on short notice, but this policy is in place to create fairness for all students. If it is impossible for you to obtain documentation, please contact me via your private discussion forum.

Bereavement due to death in the family or similar tragedy

Email me if you will be missing the exam/assignment prior to the start of the exam day/due date. Within 48 hours of the missed exam/assignment, I should also receive an email notice from the Dean’s office that you have been approved for a grief absence. In order to request a grief absence, you must fill out the Grief Absence Request Form within 7 days of the event and provide the requested documentation.

Chronic health issues, physical disabilities, and learning disabilities

If you experience severe and chronic health issues, physical disabilities, or learning challenges that prevent you from completing assignments by the deadlines, we can attempt to devise a plan to help support you.

Please provide me with a VISA issued by the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD). I am extremely willing and able to provide accommodations for students with such conditions, but a VISA is required in order to do so. Information regarding a VISA is kept confidential, and you will not be asked to provide personal health information related to the diagnosis. Students eligible for a VISA are HIGHLY encouraged to obtain one and provide it to me as soon as possible. If you have applied for a VISA but it has not been issued, please inform me, and send me the name of your RCPD advisor.

Part 5: Course Schedule

The schedule is tentative and subject to change. Any changes to the schedule will be announced ahead of time. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the due date.

Each unit will open on Saturday. The original Flipgrid post is due on Tuesday. The Flipgrid replies are due on Wednesday. The synthesis questions are due on Thursday. The reflections are due on Saturday.

Exams will be available for 48 hours on Monday through Tuesday. Exam reflections are due on Friday.

Assigned readings are listed in the Unit checklists.

Welcome

See Welcome Unit Checklist

Due Date Assignment
Thurs, Sep 3 Intro Flipgrid post
Fri, Sep 4 Syllabus quiz, Flipgrid reply, Team assignment, Reflection assignment, Private chat to Dr. Henley and Nikhil

Exam 1 Content: Building Blocks

Unit 1: Neuron Function

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Sep 6 Problem Set
Tues, Sep 8 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Sep 9 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Sep 10 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Sep 12 Unit Learning Reflection

Unit 2: Neuronal Communication

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Sep 13 Problem Set
Tues, Sep 15 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Sep 16 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Sep 17 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Sep 19 Unit Learning Reflection

Exam 1: Units 1 and 2

Due Date Assignment
Tues, Sep 22 Exam due
Fri, Sep 25 Exam Learning Reflection

Exam 2 Content: Input / Output

Unit 3: Vision

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Sep 27 Problem Set
Tues, Sep 29 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Sep 30 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Oct 1 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Oct 3 Unit Learning Reflection

Unit 4: Somatosensory and Chemical Senses

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Oct 4 Problem Set
Tues, Oct 6 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Oct 7 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Oct 8 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Oct 10 Unit Learning Reflection

Unit 5: Motor

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Oct 11 Problem Set
Tues, Oct 13 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Oct 14 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Oct 15 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Oct 17 Unit Learning Reflection

Exam 2: Units 3, 4, and 5

Due Date Assignment
Tues, Oct 20 Exam due
Fri, Oct 23 Exam Learning Reflection

Exam 3 Content: Systems I

Unit 6: Stress

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Oct 25 Problem Set
Tues, Oct 27 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Oct 28 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Oct 29 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Oct 31 Unit Learning Reflection

Unit 7: Social and Sexual Behavior

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Nov 1 Problem Set
Tues, Nov 3 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Nov 4 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Nov 5 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Nov 7 Unit Learning Reflection

Exam 3: Units 6 and 7

Due Date Assignment
Tues, Nov 10 Exam due
Fri, Nov 13 Exam Learning Reflection

Exam 4 Content: Systems II

Unit 8: Emotions

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Nov 15 Problem Set
Tues, Nov 17 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Nov 18 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Nov 19 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Nov 21 Unit Learning Reflection

Unit 9: Learning and Memory

Due Date Assignment
Sun, Nov 29 Problem Set
Tues, Dec 1 Flipgrid Post
Wed, Dec 2 Flipgrid Replies (2)
Thurs, Dec 3 Synthesis Questions
Sat, Dec 5 Unit Learning Reflection

Exam 4: Units 8 and 9

Due Date Assignment
Tues, Dec 8 Exam due
Fri, Dec 11 Exam Learning Reflection

End of Semester Reflection

Due Date Assignment
Thurs, Dec 17 End of semester reflection

Part 6: Course Policies

Learner Support

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

From the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD): Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc.). Requests received after this date may not be honored.

Resource Persons with Disabilities (RCPD)

Student Resources

Academic Honesty

The Spartan Code of Honor states, “As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do.” In addition, Article 2.III.B.2 of the Student Rights and Responsibilities states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” The Neuroscience Program adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use sites like www.allmsu.com or www.koofers.com to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive a penalty grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also the Academic Integrity webpage.)

Faculty are required to report all instances in which a penalty grade is given for academic dishonesty.  Students reported for academic dishonesty are required to take an online course about the integrity of scholarship and grades.  A hold will be placed on the student’s account until such time as the student completes the course. This course is overseen by the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Resources

Course Climate

We are all working together toward the same goals in this course! By building a strong learning community from the start, we all benefit.

Please review the information posted in the Course Climate Tab in the General Channel in the Class Team.

Student-student interactions

Get to know your team members. You will spend the next 15 weeks discussing the material and helping each other learn. It is critical that all behavior in the class is respectful. Part of being a strong teammate is being a good listener (or reader in our case), being motivating and empathetic, and providing constructive feedback. We will focus on these characteristics throughout the semester.

Student-teacher interactions

If you find that you have any trouble keeping up with assignments or other aspects of the course, make sure you let me know as early as possible. As you will find, building rapport and effective relationships are key to becoming an effective professional. Make sure that you are proactive in informing me when difficulties arise during the semester so that I can help you find a solution.

Appropriate Netiquette

  • Be professional. Interact with your fellow classmates and instructor as you would in your professional life. Use appropriate language and grammar. Be clear and concise.
  • Have opinions but be respectful of disagreement.
  • Be cautious with humor or sarcasm. It’s not that we want to create a dull environment devoid of fun, but it is very easy for these tones to be lost in text. If you want to make jokes or be sarcastic, indicate your intent with emoticons or a sarcasm tag “/s”.
  • Read all posts within a thread before replying. Avoid repeating what others have already said.
  • Be kind. Be respectful.

Disruptive Behavior

Article 2.III.B.4 of the Student Rights and Responsibilities at Michigan State University states: “The student’s behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned.” Article 2.III.B.10 states that “The student and the faculty share the responsibility for maintaining professional relationships based on mutual trust and civility.” General Student Regulation 5.02 states: “No student shall obstruct, disrupt, or interfere with the functions, services, or directives of the University, its offices, or its employees (e.g., classes, social, cultural, and athletic events, computing services, registration, housing and food services, governance meetings, and hearings).” Students whose conduct adversely affects the learning environment in this classroom may be subject to disciplinary action through the Student Judicial Affairs office.

Technology Resources

MSU Tech Support

Microsoft Software

Flipgrid

Desire 2 Learn

Other Policies

Limits to Confidentiality

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is September 9 (8:00 pm). The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is September 28 (8:00 pm). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is October 21 (8:00 pm). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Commercialized Lecture Notes

As members of a learning community, students are expected to respect the intellectual property of course instructors. All course materials presented to students are the copyrighted property of the course instructor and are subject to the following conditions of use:

Students may not post recordings or other course materials online or distribute them to anyone not enrolled in the class without the advance written permission of the course instructor and, if applicable, any students whose voice or image is included in the recordings.

Commercialization of lecture notes and university-provided course materials is not permitted in this course.

Any student violating the conditions described above may face academic disciplinary sanctions, including receiving a penalty grade in the course.

Part 7: Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enroll in this course?

All non-Neuroscience major juniors and seniors who have completed the two semester biology series (BS 161 / 162 or LB 144 / 145) are able to enroll. Neuroscience majors should enroll in the two-semester series NEU 301 / 302.

Why do I have to work in a team?

Research shows that a team will outperform all of its members individually, even the top member. You will also be entering fields (medicine, research, technology) that frequently require co-workers to collaborate on projects. Additionally, the Association of American Colleges and Universities has ranked the ability to work in teams as one of the three most important skills employers look for in college graduates (the ability to think critically and the ability to communicate effectively are the other two). Practicing this skill in courses can help you succeed in future endeavors.

Why do I have to complete these problem sets? They are too hard.

The problem sets are difficult, but educational research shows that when students have to generate answers to novel problems (like those seen in the problem set), it requires higher-order thinking about previously learned material (e.g. from the textbook). Recalling learned information strengthens the memory of that content and increases the ability to remember it later. By creating answers, you are actively engaging with the material and not simply received knowledge passively, which is often forgotten.

It is also important to know that even if you get the problem set answers incorrect on your initial try, you have still retrieved important knowledge, making connections between old and new information. Additionally, when errors are made initially, as long as those are corrected through feedback (from the in class and online reviews), the errors are not learned. Learning should not be effortless and errorless, but corrective feedback is a necessary step. Embrace the difficulties in the class knowing that they are solidifying your neuroscience knowledge.

Why aren’t there more lectures?

This course is structured differently than most traditional courses. Here, you do reading up front and try to work through the material yourself (with the help of your team) first. After that, review videos explain the questions in detail. Essentially, this course is set up backward from what you are probably used to. Instead of lecture, then assignment, then exam, we have reading, assignment, lecture, exam. The idea is to get you to be engaged with the content. Listening to a lecture is passive but researching through the text to find the appropriate background information and then apply that information to a problem is active. That type of learning will help retain content longer.

I have an RCPD VISA that allows me more time on an exam (or other accommodation). What do I do with it?

Have your RCPD Advisor send me (mcgove14@msu.edu) your VISA and accommodation, and we will work together to make sure the course runs smoothly for you.

Why do you use private chat instead of email?

The private chat in Teams provide a space to keep all our communication together, unlike email. We could end up having dozens of email threads, possibly covering some of the same issues. In the private chat, our history is readily accessible at any time. It also allows me to have all student communication located in one place.

Why is the exam set up to only have one question per page?

Although it does take longer for a student to proceed through the exam when it is structured this way, there are two main reasons for this decision. First, it helps students who need to use assistive technologies like screen readers to take the exam. When the entire exam is listed on one page, it makes it very difficult to navigate, and it is inaccessible to an entire population of learners. Secondly, it also deters unethical practices during the exam such as working with friends or looking up answers.