The Course

A major priority in the design of this course is the engagement of students as scientists and citizens. This is accomplished through the variety of techniques described below.

Science on the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 274kB Jul23 08)

Class Policies

Due to the hands-on nature of this class, attendance is mandatory. We expect students to attend all class sessions and be prepared to participate. Missed classes will result in a loss of 5% of your total grade (half a grade). If you miss more than 3 sessions, this will result in failure of the course. We realize that genuine emergencies arise. If you must miss class due to a serious emergency, please notify an instructor before class (phone, email, FAX). Written assignments must be submitted on when due.

Students should also be aware of the SCSU policy concerning academic honesty (SCSU Student Handbook). Cheating/Plagiarism will not be tolerated! Violators of this policy will fail this course.

If you need course adaptations or accommodations due to a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please notify an instructor ASAP.

Field Trips

An important aspect of the success of this course, and the smooth running of the laboratory and field exercises, is that both instructors attend all of the classes. Each instructor assumes a lead role for one or more of the course modules, however both instructors actively participate in all classes.

One of the challenges we have faced in this course is the scheduling and conduct of frequent class trips to field sites. Course enrollment is limited to 20 students, which helps make the travel and field studies manageable. The course as defined works best during the Fall semester in New England when the weather allows the scheduling of field trips until the first week of November. We are both strong proponents of "learning science by doing science" and the field trips are central to the success of the course. The three-hour Friday morning laboratory has generally provided sufficient time to allow for travel and work at the field sites. We are sensitive to the fact that students have other commitments
following class and we make every effort to be efficient in our travel and organization to accomplish the tasks in the time allotted. Part of the student participation grade is being on time and prepared for the field trips. This requires the instructors and the students to use the field time efficiently. We have often relied on the good faith of the students to volunteer to drive to local and regional field sites (all located within 30 miles of campus). We have also frequently used the university van to transport students. The weather plays an important role in the course. We have experienced rain, cold, wind, and heat during our field trips. It generally only takes one rain event to make students aware of the need to properly prepare for the field trips. We go rain or shine.

On two occasions during the semester, the boat trip and the acid digestion of the sediment samples, we split the class for the day (9 am -12 pm and 1 pm - 4 pm). The class split is necessary for the boat trip to allow for sufficient time to collect the samples necessary for the study and to maximize student participation in the sampling activities. During the laboratory, extraction of the metals from the sediment the split is necessary, due to limited hood space for students and our safety concern over too many students in the lab handling glassware and chemicals. In each case we have added a second three-hour class in the afternoon. Students have been cooperative in choosing appropriate time slots.

Funding for the field trips has been a challenge. The boat charter, sufficient field and laboratory equipment, transportation fees, etc. need to be considered in the development of the course. We have been successful in obtaining funds from the Honors College, the Student Activities Office and the Department of Science Education and Environmental Studies funds in support of the course. More recently, the Connecticut State University Center for Coastal and Marine Studies has provided support for this course.