Monday, March 19, 2007

Dane's taxonomic key

I am yet to decide on a specific group but I will design a key to describe a group of frogs



Last week some of you came to discuss the biodiversity course and to suggest to me that I was over-assessing you (and by implication too much work). I have discussed this matter with both the internal examiner and the Honours co-ordinator. We need to stress that each HONOURS course needs to represent 100 notional hours of work. A notional hour, is time productively spent for an average person, consequently it represents concentrated effort. If anything the course is a little short of this requirement. In order to guide how much "concentrated" effort you will need to invest I propose the following breakdown of investment time as guidance.

PowerPoint presentation [30%]: expect to invest 20 hours. I have re-checked my posting and it clearly stated that sound needs to be added - if you do not provide sound it will mean you get marked out of 90 instead of 100% (viz deduction of 10 marks). It is important that you read instructions carefully. I will help you put sound on in class. Please examine the rubric to guide you on this assignment's assessment.

Studying for Tests [20%]: expect to invest a total of 30 hours. This is calculated on about five hours for each chapter - I will restrict testing to six chapters only (hence five hours times six equals 30 hours).

Classroom activities: will take up approximately 18 hours. This will consist of watching videos, discussion of topics, informal lectures (e.g. Mr Weitz presentation on use of Delta Taxonomic database), and some instruction on techniques etc. This provides preparation for undertaking the assignments.

Blog contributions [30%]: expect to invest 20 hours.
This is a very important component since this is what the external will see of your work. As indicated you are required to post at least two reasonably long (minimum of 500 words) contribution one of which must relate to re-constructing past biodiversity. I will also request that work that is done during class (e.g. your experience in using the Restio delta key) is also put up. You will also need to ensure that an abstract for your PowerPoint is posted. Finally your HTML taxonomic key and HTML species descriptions (with illustrations) will also need to be put onto the Blog (this is easy since Delta writes to HTML). You will also need to provide significant comment on at least four postings.

Develop a "Taxonomic Key" using Delta [20%]: expect to invest no more than 12 hours. David and I were able to complete this assignment with illustrations and posting it onto the Blog within a day [8 hours]. Please remember that I have also never used an electronic interactive key before and I worked with a group of animals that I am completely unfamiliar with (12 species of sharks). Entering your Taxa, Characters and Character states is very easy and goes really fast. Most of the time will be needed in getting the information (for me a large chunk of time was invested in generating the point distribution maps). In conclusion it is very difficult to reduce the amount of assignments and to ensure that we adequately meet the legal requirements of the 100 notional hours as registered with SAQA. Compared to other of my courses - this is a straight-forward module and you should come well prepared given your undergraduate background. You are welcome to provide comment on this posting. The purpose of the Blog is also to ensure all academic transactions are transparent and to ensure the internal and external examiner has a fair insight to evaluate the quality of the course and your participation.