Tips for Success

  1. Read the syllabus – It tells you when things are happening, how your grade is calculated, and where to get help. It answers most of your questions about this course.
  2. Learn the vocabulary – You will learn many new words (terms) in each class period. Some exam questions ask you to define a term, but most questions use terms in relation to a biological concept or principle and if you don’t know the meaning of that term, you won’t understand the question.
  3. Don't use shortcuts - A lot of students will look for ways to "study" without putting in the effort to make their own notes. For example, you can find lots of flashcards on websites like quizlet that past students have already made, so why not use those? First, the answers on many of those cards are flat out wrong. Secondly, they may not cover all the material you need because they were made by someone who may have understood things you don't. Finally, memorizing vocabulary and other facts is good, but still won't help you understand what is happening, you need to do that on your own.
  4. Don’t rely only on memorization – Many students are trained to expect questions on the exams that are worded in the same way as in the text book. This strategy will not work in BIOL 198. So, make notes in your own words and have others ask you questions that aren’t worded the same way as the book.
  5. Come to class prepared – The whole idea of a studio class is to apply knowledge. In order to do that, you need the basic knowledge. Your knowledge base comes from the pre-class exercises. Doing your pre-class exercise will allow you to learn more effectively and to understand the material better.
  6. Don’t blow off the online quizzes – There is a short online quiz before each class that covers the reading for that day. Each individual quiz doesn’t count for much, but all together, they equal an exam. The quiz helps to ensure that you are prepared for class, and the better you are prepared for class, the more you learn.
  7. Use your time in class wisely – Don’t rush through or skip ahead in the computer material. Read the online material, don’t just look at the pictures or animations, or worse yet, google an answer. If you finish before the class ends, use that time to review for the exam, to do the next day’s pre-class reading, to explore a topic further from the “extra resources” links, or help a lab mate learn something difficult.
  8. Pay just as much or more attention to processes and linkages as to results – Many experiments and activities we do in class result in data. But, the data are not the most important part of the activity. You need to pay attention to what happened to produce those data and why things worked (or not) the way they did.
  9. Don’t get behind – The most common way to NOT succeed in Principles of Biology is to get behind. You have two class meetings per week, two quizzes per week, lots of reading, and a test about every other week. You should plan to spend 8-12 hours outside of class per week preparing and studying.
  10. Seek help – If you don’t understand a topic or concept during class, stop and ask for help. Ask your classmates, the faculty instructors, the graduate teaching assistants, or the undergraduate teaching assistants. Don’t say to yourself “that concept will not be on the exam” because it will be on the exam. After class is over, attend open studio hours to review the material and ask questions. Lastly, don't be afraid to make an appointment with an instructor outside of class. Contrary to popular belief, most instructors are happy to help.
  11. Collaborate with others – Studies routinely demonstrate that the act of working together facilitates learning. You are expected to work together with your studio partner and studio group. It is strongly advised that you also study and work together outside of class. Help each other succeed!
  12. COME TO CLASS – Attendance is very important to your success in this class. Many of the in-class activities, mini-lectures, and experiments cannot be completed outside of your studio hours. But more importantly, you won’t have the opportunity to learn the material while others are present to help you (see above).
  13. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR GRADES – Don’t wait until the end of the semester to check your grade. It is critical that you know how well you are doing in the course at all times, and if necessary you should seek help before it’s too late. Make sure that you understand how your grade is calculated and ask questions if you don’t.
  14. Don’t rely on an easy fix at the end of the semester – So that we are fair to all 600+ students in this class each semester, there is no curve and no extra credit. Your grade in this course is based on your performance on exams and quizzes.