IPHY 3410-001

Instructor: Dr. Leif Saul
Fall 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Revised 11/26/2018


Q: I'm on the wait list. What are my chances of getting in?
A: This course usually has a large wait list at the start of the semester. The good news is that, in at least half of the semesters I have taught this course, the entire wait list was gone by a couple of weeks into the semester. It is difficult for me to give accurate "odds" of your chances, because some of these students pulled themselves off the wait list; however, many of them stayed on the wait list until they got in. In Fall 2012, out of a total of 31 wait-listees for this lecture section, 20 of them eventually enrolled into this section in that semester.

Q: I'm on the wait list, and I'm a non-degree seeking (Continuing Education) student. What are my chances, and what can I do to get in?
A: Please see above for some general information about the wait list. The people who have the most difficulty getting into this course are Continuing Education (non-degree seeking) students; unfortunately, our system of priorities puts these students at the bottom, and there are no exceptions to this. If you are in this category I suggest considering other institutions such as the local community colleges. However, I have had a number of Contuing-Ed students enroll in this section -- it's just hard to predict.

Q: I'm enrolled in the other section, but I'm on the wait list for this section. Will I automatically get into this section when space opens up?
A: It depends! When you add yourself to the wait list for a different section of the same course in which you already enrolled, you have an option to choose "drop enrolled course if waitlisted course becomes available". If you fail to mark that option, then you will never roll into the course.

Q: What are my options if I am unable to get into this course?
A: The system is supposed to automatically favor IPHY majors and those who have "Pre-Health" indicated on their official record, so those are some options to consider. If you do not get into the course, as long as you keep yourself on the wait list until the wait list is purged, you may be eligible for Course Reservation. (In Fall 2014, the wait list purge takes place Sep. 15, which is the Monday of the fourth week of the semester.) In addition, you can try to get into the other section of this course (there are generally two sections each fall and sections each spring), or try the summer section. Until at least 2016, it has been consistently easier to find space in this course in spring semesters than in the fall, so if you can wait until spring, your chances seem to improve tremendously. In general, we have added sections and sought out larger classrooms to try to relieve demand.

Q: I'm failing the course, and I need to get out of it. What are my options?
A: See the latest full details at the registrar's add/drop page. In my experience, courses can be dropped without any trace via MyCUInfo until sometime in the 3rd week of the semester. The last day to drop a course via MyCUInfo (i.e., no approval signatures needed) is generally at the end of the 10th week of the semester, but after that earlier deadline in the 3rd week, this results in a permanent "W" grade on your transcript, and no refund. After the 10th week, assuming you are an Arts & Sciences student, you would need to petition the Dean for a late drop and fill out a Special Action Form: see the Arts & Sciences academic assistance page for more information. My understanding is that late drops are only approved for extreme circumstances (catastrophic personal events, etc.).


Q: What are my options for purchasing the textbook?
A: Please see the textbook questions page.

Q: I'm studying for your exams by reading the textbook, and then supplementing my study with your slides. Is this a good idea?
A: No, it's not a good idea, because exams are entirely based on the powerpoint slides, not on the textbook. You should focus on the slides first, and use the textbook only as needed for clarification and deeper understanding. See the exam tips page for more information about preparing for exams.

Q: I found a discrepancy between the book and the slides. Which one is correct? Can I get credit for the homework/exam question because I used information from the book, even though I'm wrong according to the slides?
A: The fact that 100% of the required content in this course comes from the slides (including blanks to be filled in during class) is a major convenience for students. Furthermore, the bullet points are generally phrased as simpy as possible. The reality is often more complex, and with 850+ pages, the textbook contains many nuances that, sometimes, might complicate what is presented in class. For practical purposes, in terms of evaluating exam and homework answers, we will just have to operate under the assumption that the slides are correct. Anyway, I edit and proofread the slides every semester, so outright errors are rare. If you do find something in the latest edition of the textbook that casts doubt on something in the slides, I will be very appreciative and will happily make changes as needed for the next semester, but it will have no impact on grading this semester. I have found several errors in the textbook, including some major ones, so it is also possible that the slides are correct, and the textbook is wrong.

Q: Where I can find out answers to my technical questions about online resources provided by the publisher?
A: Please see the textbook questions page.


Q: Do I need an i-Clicker Plus, or is a regular i-Clicker OK?
A: We just use the basic functions, so a regular i-Clicker is OK.

Q: What do I need to know about registering my i-Clicker?
A: As of 2014, the Office of Information Technology at CU-Boulder is no longer hosting a local i-Clicker registration database, and is relying on the national database instead. According to OIT, "This database change will also require that students register their i>clickers at the start of each school year, using their IdentiKey, even if they have registered it before. To facilitate this, OIT has provided a link to the registration page at mycuinfo.colorado.edu. It is imperative that students use their IdentiKey username and NOT their Student ID (as the i>clicker registration page suggests). OIT will be communicating directly with students about the need to register their i>clickers before using them in class, but we could also use your help to remind them."

Q: My clicker ran out of power (or my clicker broke, or I missed class due to illness, etc.). Can I prorate the clicker points?
A: No. You will get 26 clicker point opportunities during the semester, and only up to 20 clicker points will be used in calculating your grade. Therefore, most students can miss 2-3 weeks of class and still end up getting the full 20 possible clicker points.

Q: Why are my clicker points blank on D2L, even though I registered my clicker and submitted clicks in class?
A: Most commonly, this happens because you enrolled after the start of the semester, and I don't yet have you in my clicker roster. Just let me know and I will add you to my clicker roster if necessary. As long as you have been using your clicker properly, and you have properly registered your clicker, I will have data from those clicks and the points will show up once you are in the clicker roster.


Q: What do I actually need to do to get credit for the homework?
A: What you need to do, in order to get credit, is submit your answers using the "Quiz Tool". This will be a link called, for example, "Homework 1", "Homework 2", etc., with a little question-mark icon next to it. You can access this either in the Content section or in the Assessments section of D2L. When you submit your answers using the Quiz Tool, there are three things you need to do to get credit. (1) Make sure you click the "Save" button after answering each question. (2) Make sure you click the "Submit" button at the end. (3) After you click Submit, D2L will ask you again, "Are you sure you want to submit?" At this point you must click "Yes" or "OK" to actually submit your homework!

Q: Why are there two files with names like "Fall14 Hmk1"?
A: These are ordinary text files. They contain the same questions you will find in the Quiz Tool where you will actually submit your answers. I recommend that you first print out one of these files (choose either the PDF version or the Word version) and write your answers on it. Then, when you are finished, go into the Quiz Tool to actually get credit for your answers. One reason for the extra step of writing your answers down is that in the Quiz Tool, many of the questions will have their answers presented in random order. Therefore when comparing answers with an instructor or classmate, it is a lot less confusing using the PDF and Word files.

Q: I just submitted the homework. Why can't I see what I got?
A: Results are not revealed until after the deadline. This is to make sure the homework is a meaningful learning exercise, rather than a process of stumbling on the answers by a process of random trial and error.

Q: I did the homework, and it's the afternoon after the deadline, but I still don't have a score. Why?
A: The most common reason for this is that you did not click the "Submit" button. If you ask me by the last day of the semester, I can submit the homework for you, but it will cost you 1 point from your score on that homework. The reason for this policy is that a large number of students begin a submission (often their 2nd or 3rd submission) and then never submit it. D2L does not provide a way for the instructor to auto-submit all homeworks at once, so it is fairly laborious for me to deal with this.

Q: I was doing the homework around 11 pm on Monday and it refused to let me submit. Can I get any credit?
A: You may be able to get credit for answers you saved. If there are saved answers, I can submit your homework (if you ask me to, by the last day of the semester) and you would then get credit, minus the 1-point penalty (see above).

Q: Due to illness/family emergency/computer crash/etc., I was unable to do the homework. Can I get any credit?
A: No. Please see the current syllabus (linked at the top of the home page) for relevant policies. The instructor has no control over computer bugs, and if I were to try to give credit on a case-by-case basis, it would be impossible to do so in a fair and consistent way. Instead, you are expected to submit the homework well ahead of time, and multiple times if necessary until you are sure your computer and browser are compatible with D2L.

Q: How can I see how I did on each homework question?
A: Homework answers will be made visible by the start of class, the day after the deadline. To see the homework answers in D2L:
1. Click on the Assessments tab.
2. Choose Quizzes from the pop-up menu.
3. Click on the tiny black arrow to the right of the name of one of the homeworks.
4. Choose Submissions from the pop-up menu.
5. Click on one of the submissions (e.g. Attempt 1).
6. Green check marks indicate where you gave a correct answer. Red "X" marks indicate where you gave an incorrect or blank answer. If your answer was not completely correct, blue arrows or numbers indicate the correct choices or matches.

Q: How can I find the answer to this homework question? I researched it online, but the results are confusing.
A: All homework questions are designed to be answerable based solely on information presented in the PowerPoint slides. If you are googling for an answer, then you are overlooking something important in the slides. A major benefit of the homeworks is to help prepare you for exams, by getting you to actively use the information in the slides in some way. If you are trying to bypass the slides in search of an answer, then that benefit is lost. In addition, there are a lot of inaccurate web pages out there, so you're likely to end up with incorrect information. If you're struggling with a homework question, consider visiting office hours, asking the instructor or TA for guidance by email, discussing it with the students who sit near you in class, or reading the relevant parts of the textbook.

Q: I didn't do the homework. Is there any way for me to find out the answers, to help me study for the exam?
A: No problem, just email me and I will send you the answers so you can learn from the homework.

PowerPoint slides

Q: When I tried to view the PowerPoint file, D2L says "There was an error converting this document. Some or all of it may not be displayed." What should I do?
A: Just click on either the green "Download" button in the lower left corner of the web page (the page where you are getting that messsage). There is also a button in the lower right corner of that page with a downward-pointing arrow that has the same function. Either button will download the file and it will open properly using the PowerPoint application. It is convenient that D2L is usually able to convert these files for viewing directly within the web browser, however that is not always possible, so you should be prepared to open the downloaded files occasionally. The same issues can occur with the corresponding PDF files.

Q: It's after 4 pm the day before the lecture, and I am not seeing the PowerPoint file listed on D2L. Did you forget to upload it?
A: No, it's there, but you're not seeing it listed for one of the following reasons: (1) When the list gets too long, D2L doesn't show the whole list by default; you have to click something like "show more" at the bottom of the list. (2) If we're starting a new Module because we've finished the material for an exam this week, then for Tuesday's files you need to click on the latest Module, and you will see the files listed there.

Q: Why are there blanks in some of the PowerPoint slides? Is this just to make sure we come to class?
A: The reason for the blanks is not to encourage attendance. Students already have good reason to attend in order to get clicker points. The blanks are to make the presentation more interactive, more interesting, and more likely that you will retain and understand the information. Education research has shown that passively reading and/or listening are some of the least effective ways to learn. That's why over the years I and my colleagues have added several features that did not exist in this course years ago: Homework, clicker questions, and blanks in the slides. All of these are ways to challenge you and make you think actively, which is the fastest way to learn well. Items left blank in my slides are almost always things that you can figure out from the information provided in the preceding slides, or in many cases from major concepts presented in earlier lectures. Thus, the blanks are also a way to help you apply concepts and build confidence.

Q: I missed class for an important reason. Can you tell me the answers to the blank items on the slides?
A: Most of the blanks are easily answered based on earlier slides. If necessary, please use your textbook to find the information. After you have attempted to fill in the blanks, you are welcome to check your answers with me either by email or in office hours.

Exams and course grade

Q: How can I do well in this course?
A: To a large extent, success in this course comes down to (1) budgeting enough time in your schedule to study the material, and (2) memorizing the powerpoint slides as best you can. The other important things to do are (3) understanding the context of each slide and how the slides relate to each other, and (4) reading and answering exam questions carefully. See the exam tips page for more information about preparing for exams.

Q: How can I get an idea what to expect on exams?
A: Try the practice questions (linked on the exams page). Many of these are identical, or very similar, to questions that have been used on actual exams in the past.

Q: I am having a family/health/personal crisis. What should I do about the upcoming midterm exam?
A: If the exam is in a few days and you are having a family/health/personal crisis, you have two options. Option (1): If you will be able provide documentation of the crisis from the relevant authority in the near future, and you are sure that you are unable to function academically because of the crisis, then you should not attend the exam. I will prorate the score of the missed exam (i.e. your score will be calculated based on the average of your other three exams). Option (2): If, as the date of the exam arrives, you feel that you are ready to take the exam and can accept responsibility for the score that you obtain, then you should take the exam at the regular time and place. You must choose between Options (1) and (2). I realize this can be a difficult decision. Because I am not in your shoes, unfortunately this is the best advice I can offer. Once you take an exam, there is nothing that can be done to change your score, as mentioned below.

Q: I had some personal issues come up around the time of Exam 1 so my score (62%, 48%, etc.) doesn't reflect my knowledge. Can my score be adjusted?
A: No. There is nothing that can be done about your score once you have taken an exam. If, prior to an exam, you are sick, or experiencing a family emergency, etc., and you think it will affect your exam performance, then you need to take steps toward obtaining written documentation so that you can be exempt from the exam. After a student gets a low score on an exam, it is impossible to say how much of the deficit was caused by the specific documented problem (illness, grief, etc.) and how much was due to other causes (lack of preparation, or just a series of unlucky responses, etc.).

Q: I have three (or more) final exams on one day. Can I reschedule the anatomy final?
A: If you provide evidence that you have three final exams scheduled for the same day, you can change the last exam scheduled on that day to a different day. If you have four final exams on one day, you can change the last two exams to a different day. The official policy is at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/final-examination-policy. If mine is your third or fourth final in one day, I can usually reschedule you as long as you let me know a few days before the final, but please let me know earlier if possible to ensure a room can be found if necessary. As evidence, I require the full names and emails of the other two instructors, which course (i.e. dept. abbreviation and course number) each one goes with, and the regular meeting time/day of each course, so that I have the ability to confirm. Rescheduled final exams are a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short essay, and matching questions.

Q: Can I get a quick estimate on how I'm doing in the course?
A: Yes, with this Excel spreadsheet (current as of Fall 2018), you can enter estimates of your scores, and it will calculate the resulting grade. It also contains some general comments about "typical expectations" for the different components of the gradesheet.

Q: Can you estimate my current grade in the course?
A: Yes, but you can get a faster result by doing the arithmetic yourself. Also, I do not download the homework scores from D2L until I do final grading, so if you want me to calculate your overall grade, you'll need to provide me with your current average homework score. All I do at the end of the semester is divide your total points by 507, and convert to a letter grade using the breakdown on p. 3 of the syllabus. You can estimate your current grade as follows:

  1. Your syllabus quiz score is S.
  2. Unless you have missed more than a couple weeks of class, you will probably get the maximum of 20 on clicker points. This is C.
  3. For homework, add up all of your scores (up to 5 pts. each) for the N homeworks that have been assigned so far, subtract your lowest score, and divide the total by N-1, then multiply by 14. The result is H.
  4. For worksheets, unless you missed several or were really sloppy, you will probably get the maximum of 12 points on worksheets. This is W.
  5. For exams, take the average of your exam scores so far and multiply by 4. This is E.
  6. Calculate your overall percent as (S + C + H + W + E) x 100 / 507, and convert to a letter grade using the breakdown on p. 3 of the syllabus.

Q: What exam scores do I need to get grade X in the class?
A: All the necessary information is in the syllabus and in your gradesheet on D2L. Here is a general recipe with an example to show how you can calculate what you need to score on the remaining exams:

  1. Consult page 3 of the syllabus (see syllabus link near top of home page) to find out the grade cutoff you are aiming for. (If you want a C-, then the overall percent you need is 70%, which is 0.7 as a decimal.)
  2. Multiply the overall percent you need (as a decimal) by 507. (In this example, that's 0.7 x 507 = 354.9 which rounds up to 355 since you need to be over the cutoff.) This is the total number of points you need, or P.
  3. Your syllabus quiz score is S. (Let's suppose you got a 5 on this.)
  4. Unless you have missed more than a couple weeks of class, you will probably get the maximum of 20 on clicker points. This is C. (If you missed a lot of clicker points: You can assume approximately 1 clicker point per remaining lecture in the semester. As an optimistic estimate, you can add that number to your clicker total so far.)
  5. To estimate your semester total for homework, add up all of your scores (up to 5 pts. each) for the N homeworks that have been assigned so far, subtract your lowest score, and divide the total by N-1, then multiply by 14. The result is H. (Well assume H is 60 for this example.)
  6. For worksheets, unless you missed several or were really sloppy, you will probably get the maximum of 12 points on worksheets. This is W.
  7. Add up all your exam scores to date. This sum is E. (Example: 46 on Exam 1, 62 on Exam 2, so the total E is 108.)
  8. Subtract (S + C + H + W + E) from P. This is the number of points you need from the remaining exams. This is R. (In this example, R is 355 - (5 + 20 + 60 + 12 + 108) = 150.)
  9. Divide the result by the number of exams remaining in the semester. The result is the average you need to score on the remaining exams to get the grade you want. (In this example, there are two exams remaining, so based on the numbers in the example, R/2 = 75, which is the average you would need on those remaining exams to get a C- in the course.)


Q: Can we have more clicker questions/videos/clinical examples in class?
A: These things are fun and instructive for both the instructor and students, but we have a lot of content to cover in the 75 minutes of class time. The main ways to squeeze in more of these things would be to talk faster; spend less time per clicker question; discourage students from asking questions in class; spend less time explaining; or ask you to learn the material outside of class rather than going over it in class. Some of these options are feasible to a limited degree, but they are all objectionable in one way or another. In general, we are close to the limit of what can be presented during class time. Another challenge is finding suitable videos, and writing suitable clicker questions (not too hard, not too easy). If you have an idea for a new clicker question or a link to a relevant video, please feel free to send me your ideas either by email or through the suggestions page.

Q: I missed lecture due to illness (or I need to leave lecture early, etc.). Here's my doctor's note, etc.
A: Unless you will be missing an exam, there is no need to let me know why you are absent. Lecture content is provided on D2L, and clicker points cannot be prorated for any reason (see above under Clicker). As the syllabus shows, there are no points allocated for attendance. I expect that most students find the course worth attending, but I do not monitor attendance per se.

Q: Tell me more about the cartoons in the lecture presentations.
A: Every instructor brings their own personal skill set to the challenge of explaining ideas and keeping the audience interested. Since I've been drawing cartoons most of my life, I've looked for ways to put them to use in my presentations. Cartoons can go beyond the textbook illustrations by the use of exaggeration, simplification, distortions of scale, metaphor, anthropomorphism, and of course, humor, not to mention making the material look cute and appealing. In general, I prefer not to include the cartoons in the student version of the powerpoints, to preserve their surprise value. In some cases though, I will include a cartoon in the student version if it is particularly valuable as a study tool (e.g. the distribution of epithelium types in the body).

Office Hours

Q: Will you be at your office hour? Can I come to office hours to discuss homework/exam/slides/clickers/my grade/personal stuff/etc.?
A: There's no need to ask. I'm always at my office during office hours, looking forward to meeting you, and anything related to the course is fair game -- that's the whole point of office hours!


Q: I lost the email that has the link to submit my FCQ evaluation of this course.
A: You can go to https://colorado.campuslabs.com/courseeval to submit your FCQ evaluation. Thank you for your very important input to this course!