Scoring Policy

There are few points in this class, and the points should not be calculated using a percentage scale. That means that 1 point out of 2 on a question is not a 50% in a general grading sense (failing); a 1 point out of 2 means that it needs revision, not that it is a failing response. 


(too long; didn’t read)

  • Each exam question and the end of semester reflection are worth 2 points
  • Revisions will be allowed on all exam questions
  • One exam question grade will be dropped
  • Deadlines are important for exam weeks, but if something comes up, policies are below 

Why This Structure?

Research shows that grades promote extrinsic motivation instead of intrinsic motivation. This means, that for many students, the focus of a class is about earning X number of points over the joy of learning and thoroughly understanding the material. With this scoring system, I am hoping to place focus on practicing scientific skills and improving on those skills from the start of the semester to the end.

Related, when the focus is on earning points, the willingness to dive into challenging assignments diminishes. The risk of failure is too high. Stress increases. This is not a good learning environment for anyone (the instructor or the student). By getting rid of points and having a more general “student meets expectations / student is almost there / student and instructor need to address issues” paired with revision of assignments, I am hoping student stress will decrease and that students might see the purpose and benefit of the work being completed.

It is also important to recognize that students enter this class with a wide range of background experiences in science. A graduating NatSci student may have previously taken genetics, biochemistry, and physiology, whereas a mid-level Social Science student may have taken BioSci 161. This grading system and course structure is meant to give equal opportunities for those students to walk out at the end of the semester having improved their science skills.

Exam and End of Semester Reflection Scoring

The four individual questions on any Exam or Exam Revisions will be scored on a 0-2 scale.  Instructors will provide feedback on responses that earn at least 1 point. Questions can be revised and resubmitted for regrading. The highest score earned will be the final score (i.e., grades are not averaged together).

Exam Question Score

2 Meets expectations
1 Needs revisions to meet expectations
0 Incomplete or insufficient effort


End of Semester Reflection Rubric

Criteria Meets Expectations (2 points) Does Not Meet Expectations (0 points)
Effort Thoughtful assessment of student work throughout the semester

Lack of effort or thoughtfulness put into to self-assessment


No evidence to support assessment of work

Evidence Evidence to support assessment of student work
Score on Intro Reflection Credit  No Credit

Submitted / Not Submitted Scoring

Assignments will be scored as “Submitted” if they are turned in and show effort and completeness.

  • Application questions
  • Synthesis questions
  • Exam learning reflections
  • Introduction assignments

Final Semester Grades

IMPORTANT REMINDER: The Claim-Evidence-Reasoning exam questions can be revised after receiving feedback from the instructors. Given the revision process (after discussion with classmates and after instructor feedback), receiving a score of 2 on each exam question is possible for every student. However, one exam question will be dropped from the final grade.

This leaves 15 exam questions and the end of semester reflection in the final grades

Points Final Grade
30-32 4.0
26-29 3.5
22-25 3.0
18-21 2.5
14-17 2.0
10-13 1.5
6-9 1.0
0-5 0.0

Viewing Grades

All assignments will be tracked using the gradebook in D2L.

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

During Unit weeks, flexibility for assignments is built in.

During Exam weeks, it is expected that students strive to meet deadlines. 

However, if you need flexibility in the semester, particularly during an exam week, please contact me.

What should I do in case of…

Illness or Injury

Message me if you will be missing a deadline. Preferably, contact me prior to the deadline, but if that is not possible, as soon as you can.

Bereavement due to death in the family or similar tragedy

Message me if you will be missing a deadline. Preferably, contact me prior to the deadline, but if that is not possible, as soon as you can. Also, make sure to request a grief absence from the university. 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. All of your instructors will be informed about your excused absence days.

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.