Advanced Experimental Molecular Biology Assignments and
BIOS 313 is a CAPSTONE course: the crowning achievement, the acme of your undergraduate laboratory training at Rice.
We assess your abilities to apply knowledge you've gained in other laboratory
and lecture courses to the presentation and communication of a real research project.
SPECIAL NOTE: Bios 313 is my MOST ADVANCED laboratory
course and requires greater independence than Bios 312.
You spend just THREE days performing actual lab procedures.
The experimental procedures are often less demanding than
those you performed in Bios 311; HOWEVER, just because the
experiments may be "easier" does
not mean the lab requires less effort. I place a greater
emphasis on analysis, interpretation, and presentation of
data; if you keep a "sloppy" notebook
and slap a PowerPoint presentation together at the last minute
without really understanding "why" you did a procedure
and "what" the
results mean, you will be disappointed with your final grade.
Several of you have worked or are working in Dr. Braam's lab.
Although this experience may give you an advantage in performing
the experiments and/or understanding the results, you are
still expected to meet our standards (see our Laboratory
Learning Objectives) for keeping a laboratory
notebook and preparing a PowerPoint presentation. Do not make
the mistake of assuming this lab will be "easy" just
because you've worked with Arabidopsis before.
Remember, the undergraduate program is a series of steps. Keep
in mind that a level of performance that would result in a
B/B+ or sometimes even an A at the introductory level, does
not (and should not) translate into a high grade at the advanced
We forgive a lot of mistakes early on but you must recall the
lessons learned from these mistakes when you conduct similar
work at an advanced level.
Additionally, the criteria we use to evaluate your performance in an advanced laboratory course are different from those we use in an introductory course.
"Fairness" in this course means everyone is evaluated on the same criteria.
Since everyone does not have the same ability, everyone does not get the same grade; this outcome is not "unfair" but rather is simply reality.
- Please read my Honor Code Policy.
- A total of 150 POINTS is available in this class.
Due dates are subject to change. Do not ask
for an individual extension to a due date because you
have a paper due, or three exams, or you lost your disk; due
dates are set so that you have plenty of time to complete your
work. Don't wait until the night before to start - there is
no penalty for starting early. Notebook pages are due at
the END of each lab session, including self-scheduled computer
time; the final notebook pages must be turned in the day you
give your final presentation. You
must e-mail me your practice and final PowerPoint presentations
by 10 a.m. on the day you present. Please
read the policy
concerning late assignments.
Contributions of individual assignments are as follows:
- 100 points = PowerPoint Presentation (graded both as a
team and an individual)
- 30 points = Lab Notebook (graded ONCE, after the lab ends)
- 20 points = Laboratory Performance
- Take advantage of opportunities to earn points; you do not
have as many assignments or as many points as you did in BIOS
- The PowerPoint presentation is 67% of your final
Remember, this presentation is BOTH a TEAM and an INDIVIDUAL
Therefore, EACH of you is responsible for the ENTIRE presentation,
not just the part(s) you worked on.
Furthermore, you are expected to understand
the rationale behind all of the experimental procedures
and the meaning of the results.
We will use the Presentation Evaluation Form to
grade your presentation.
Team effort accounts for 52% of your
grade; individual contributions make up the other 48%.
You and your partners will receive a TEAM grade for the CONTENT
and VISUALS of the presentation and an INDIVIDUAL grade for your
DELIVERY and HANDLING QUESTIONS.
- The lab notebook is 20% of your final grade.
You learned how to keep a research quality notebook in BIOS 211
and were expected to maintain a research quality notebook in
BIOS 311 and 312.
The SAME is expected of you in BIOS 313; it is YOUR responsibility
to review our guidelines for keeping a proper notebook.
We will use the BIOS 313 Notebook
grade your lab notebook.
We intend to use the overall quality of the laboratory notebook and your specific notebook entries to evaluate your individual effort.
A single team member must not, for example, act as a recordkeeper by writing in the notebook while the others carry out the work.
- GRADING SCHEME:
- 95% & up = A+
- 90 - 95% = A
- 86 - 90% = A-
- 82 - 86% = B+
- 78 - 82% = B
- 74 - 78% = B-
- 70 - 74% = C+
- 66 - 70% = C
- 62 - 66% = C-
- 50 - 62% = D
- below 50% = F
- You will be graded against this absolute scale, NOT against your classmates.
- Grades posted on Esther are FINAL and cannot be changed.
- COMMENTS ABOUT LABORATORY PERFORMANCE:
- You will be assessed each week in the following areas:
Preparation and familiarity with procedures
Proper lab notebook (i.e., recording notes DURING experiments, NOT writing on scrap paper and copying at the end of lab or exchanging notebooks with your team at the end of lab)
Teamwork (collaboration, division of labor, troubleshooting, and time management)
Ability to function independently (troubleshooting and time management)
- You are expected to function both as a member of a TEAM and as an INDEPENDENT investigator.
Follow the experimental procedures, record the results, and analyze/interpret your findings.
Accomplishment of the laboratory goals and preparation and
presentation of the PowerPoint presentation require contributions
from EACH team member.
If a team member does not carry his/her weight, focuses only
on his/her own work, or is not competent in the lab, please bring
this matter to our attention; be honest and objective (your
comments will remain confidential). A conscientious evaluation
of your peers will be appreciated and will be considered when
determining the laboratory performance grade.
- You do not EARN points for "experimental technique" by obtaining the expected results (i.e., performing the experiment properly); likewise, you do not necessarily LOSE points if you don't obtain the expected results. You are evaluated on HOW you get the results, not the results themselves.
Sometimes experiments fail, or the results don't make sense, or your findings are at odds with published studies. Because of time constraints and limited materials you may not be able to repeat the procedure in a lab course; however, you should recognize that in a research setting you would perform the experiment again.
- EXAMPLES of how to LOSE Points (this list is NOT all-inclusive):
failing to come in to complete a procedure (e.g., washing/hybridizing
slides, analyzing data)
showing up late
writing on scratch paper instead of in your notebook
staying after you've finished the procedures to write in your notebook
not using your time efficiently
not working with your team
using the WRONG reagents
not following lab safety rules (e.g., wearing sandals or eating/drinking
in the lab)
talking on your cell phone or the lab phone during lab
****Come to lab prepared and learn to work effectively as a TEAM. Focus on learning and you should do fine.****
and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (email@example.com),
Rice University, 29 June 2006
Updated 3 July 2007