I am the field-lab coordinator for Biology 230 (both terms) and Biology 306, and in September also a co-lecturer for 306. It is part of my job to answer your questions about registration, and about the organization of the lab part of each course. Please read the material below carefully before contacting me; if your question is not answered here, by all means email to ask it.
The following information pertains to both courses, unless otherwise noted:
Note regarding lecture-section enrolment: if your desired section is full (or Blocked), you should register immediately for the waitlist section associated with it. The waitlist becomes the only path of entry to a section once it has been Blocked. Students registered in a waitlist will be moved periodically into the section’s class list as seats open due to Drops; if a few students are still on a waitlist at the start of term, we will do our best to make space for them.
Your lab registration may be changeable, even into apparently “full” days. We can add one or more people to a lab-section if it is necessary to accommodate all registered students, but this must be done under my direction. Follow the instructions to be posted in the Labs area of the course Canvas site if you cannot register yourself in a suitable lab section; if registered in the lecture but unable to enter a suitable lab section, you can safely leave your lab-section slot blank and wait to be accommodated by my orders.
We guarantee that every student registered in the course will receive a lab section that works for her/his schedule. We move students for two reasons only: where they can demonstrate a course- or employment-conflict requiring a change of day, or by my rearranging-decisions in balancing section-sizes within a lab-day to enhance course efficiency.
No lab-registration changes will be made until the course begins – we can use the first 10 days or so of the term to iron out any problems and arrive at final lists, when you follow the instructions to be posted. In the short term, if registered in the lecture but unable to enter a suitable lab section, you can safely leave your lab-section slot blank and wait to be accommodated by my orders.
You are likely to receive emails from me via Canvas or the SSC concerning required lab-registration changes; I may have to close or consolidate sections, and/or redistribute students within a lab-day. Therefore, be sure that the email address you have specified for university communication is one that is valid, and frequently checked by you. You are responsible for ensuring that messages can reach you: because these messages have no specified recipients, they may look like spam/junk to your email system, so program an exception for any message containing the course number in its subject line.
You must attend to my changes to your position in labs – I will be directing the Biology secretary to Block all lab registration moves well ahead of the Registrar’s Drop deadline, in order to control section sizes as I see fit. (Biol 306 should be Blocked on 11 Sep; Biol 230 should be Blocked on 15 Sep.) Because you cannot move yourself after registrations are Blocked, and we don’t update the SSC to reflect my changes (not necessary), I will be your source of information for any change to your pre-existing section-number. The lab-section class lists I prepare for the TAs become the official ones, superseding SSC information for any student who I inform of a move.
[ All changes I make will be sent by direct email to the students involved, and will always involve within-lab-day moves unless you request a move to a different day; see above regarding email-contact responsibility. ]
HOW THE LAB PART OF THE COURSE RUNS:
Field lab sections are not “drop-in” or casual – once enrolled in a specific section, you work with a consistent set of colleagues and will be assessed by the same TA through the term. Your attendance and participation in labs is not optional; you can earn about 20% of the course grade by completing them, so it’s well worth your effort. Each student is a vital part of our team, and equipment is organized to suit the expected number of students, so unexcused absences will be penalized. We have other rules too – see the detailed lab Manual, to be posted in the Field Labs folder.
There is no lab-book to buy – the general lab Manual document, and materials specific to each lab, will be posted on Canvas for you to download. The Manual contains all background information you require (uploading/downloading class data, rules about timing and reports, etc. – read it and follow it.
Each course has a total of three field-labs; here are the full schedules (they will will be in your posted lab Manual and you will be reminded in class of upcoming lab-weeks). For Biol 230, note that Lab 3 has odd timing – this is correct. All students of a given course will be in the field in the same week each time.
Prelab ID session
|Data upload deadline||TA Office hrs (Thu-Fri)||Hand-in deadline|
|Forest diversities ||18-22 Sep||Sat 23 Sep, 1pm||25-29 Sep||Sun 1 Oct, 9am||4-5 Oct||Fri 6 Oct, 1pm|
|Isopod abundance ||None||Sat 14 Oct, 1pm||16-20 Oct||Sun 22 Oct, 9am||25-26 Oct||Fri 27 Oct, 1pm|
|Epiphytes on trees ||6-10 Nov||Sat 11 Nov, 1pm||Wed 15 – Mon 20 Nov||Tue 21 Nov, 9am||Mon 27-
Tue 28 Nov
|Wed 29 Nov, 1pm|
|Lab||Topic||Field week M-F||Data upload by 9AM:||TA office hrs WTh:||Hand in (by 1PM):|
|1||Effect of moisture and quality on litter decomposition||18-22 Sep||Sun 24 Sep||27-28 Sep||Fri 29 Sep|
|2||Size-distribution and change in forest tree populations||2-6 Oct||Sun 8 Oct||11-12 Oct||Fri 13 Oct|
|3||Forest composition changes following disturbance||30 Oct-3 Nov||Sun 5 Nov||8-9 Nov||Fri 10 Nov|
In non-field weeks you usually have no lab-associated meetings. Exceptions to this rule:
– the two pre-lab tutorials for Biology 230, which occur at normal lab-times in the week prior to Lab 1 and in the week prior to Lab 3 (details will be posted in advance);
– at the discretion of lecturers in either course, there may be tutorial discussions, learning activities, or other uses of the lab timeslot in your schedule (again full details will be posted in advance).
Finding your lab group and TA – note that the information you need for this will not be on the SSC! Field labs have no meeting-rooms; on field-days, each lab-section will gather at a predetermined outdoor location near BiolSci or Biodiversity just before 2PM. To know where to go, you will consult the slide we call the “gathering-map” in the Labs postings on Canvas – it will be there prior to your first field-week.
To contact your TA or find her/him for office hours there will also be a posted chart we call the “TA-link“, which associates TA contact info, office-hour times and locations, and which sections, TAs, and gathering-locations go together on each lab-day.
Field labs run as scheduled irrespective of weather or other conditions. So far (since September 2009) no event forcing rescheduling has occurred, so we anticipate this to continue. If there should be severe weather, labour disputes, disruption of transit service, etc., bulletins will be posted and/or mass-emailed to the student list.
Typical lab events in brief – for each lab: the data you collect must be shared immediately within your working-group of 3-4 students; a member of each working-group will upload data to our course data-website (strict deadline), from which it will be downloaded for analysis by all class-members; in the week following each field-week, your TA will offer office-hour consultation periods; and each individual student will submit a completed lab report of Manual-specified kind for the TA to grade (strict deadline).
I manage and check incoming data, analyze it for the TAs, and determine when the dataset can be released for you to download. Note that it is sometimes necessary for me to email you seeking clarification of your uploaded data, or an explanation of why your data were not uploaded. Therefore, be sure that the email address you have specified for communication is one that is valid, and frequently checked by you. You are responsible for ensuring that my messages can reach you (see also above on this point).
Best wishes for your work in our courses this Winter, I hope you will enjoy them. – WG