Course Details

Course Materials

Required Textbook: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas, by Forest Rohwer, 2010. Additional materials will be provided and include textbook chapters, current journal publications, rock and fossil specimens. Assigned materials will be available through the EAS E-341 Canvas site, and various websites.

Objectives of the Course

We will analyze and synthesize the ecologic and environmental context for long-term biotic associations in the reef ecosystem. By the semester’s end you will have up-to-date knowledge on the state of reefs through their natural geologic history to the present day, with scientific backing for predictions of future reef scenarios. The semester’s focus will be on developing critical thinking skills to augment your classroom learning and, if appropriate, your broader research objectives. Your writing goal will be to integrate concepts learned during the semester into your homework assignments, in-class exercises, and examination responses.

Lecture, in-class small group exercises, class discussions, videos, fossil samples, identification keys, and data from targeted websites and journal readings will comprise our course meetings. As will become clear during the semester, both writing and speaking skills will be sharpened. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning is an invaluable guide for tracking your progress from memorization through synthesis and evaluation of scientific material. Learning objectives will be assessed through a mid-term examination, coral identification examinations, in-class exercises and presentations, homework assignments, a scientific reflection using the scientific method, and a final comprehensive examination.

Student Learning Outcomes, CASE N&M Breadth of Inquiry

By the end of this course on the Natural History of Coral Reefs, you should be able to:

  1. Provide an understanding of physical, chemical, and biological factors affecting reef ecosystems
  2. Apply the scientific method to an investigation of reef evolution, and modern reef demise
  3. Present a review of the state-of-the-science related to reef ecosystem patterns and processes, and evidence supporting and refuting established hypotheses
  4. Establish the role and approaches of mathematics for reef ecosystem studies.

Assignment Due Dates and Make-up Work

  1. Assignments are due at the start of class OR at the date and time indicated on the weekly Agenda. Unexcused late assignments will not be given credit.
  2. Late work done under an excused absence is due within one week of original due date. Example of an excused absence is a doctor’s note or equivalent, and permission of professor.
  3. If you are participating in a university-sanctioned event, prior notification to professor and AI, and pre-approval by professor, are necessary to receive credit for late work. Assignments are due within one week of the original due date.

Grading Policy, Major Assignments, Exam Dates

  1. 5%: Scientific reflection on two topics using the scientific method; due to Canvas, April 29, 2020
  2. 15%: 3 coral identification quizzes. Quiz dates are in the syllabus.
  3. 35%: in-class exercises, presentations, and homework assignments
  4. 20%: mid-term exam, date March 10, 2020
  5. 25%: final comprehensive exam, date May 5, 2020
  6. FINAL GRADE DISTRIBUTION: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D-60-69; F=59 & lower; marks of + and − will be added to the letter grades as follows (− assigned to 0, 1, 2; + assigned to grades of 7, 8, or 9; e.g., 87%=B+, 61%=D− 74%=C). Class grades are not curved.

Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct

Academic Integrity: As a student at IU, you are expected to adhere to the standards and policies detailed in the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct (Code). When you submit an assignment with your name on it, you are signifying that the work contained therein is yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. All suspected violations of the Code will be reported to the Dean of Students and handled according to University policies. Sanctions for academic misconduct may include a failing grade on the assignment, reduction in your final course grade, and a failing grade in the course, among other possibilities. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand.

Re: Note Selling: Several commercial services have approached students regarding selling class notes/study guides to their classmates. Selling the instructor’s notes/study guides in this course is not permitted. Violations of this policy will be reported to the Dean of Students as academic misconduct (violation of course rules). Sanctions for academic misconduct may include a failing grade on the assignment for which the notes/study guides are being sold, a reduction in your final course grade, or a failing grade in the course, among other possibilities.

Additionally, you should know that selling a faculty member’s notes/study guides individually or on behalf of one of these services using IU email, or via Canvas may also constitute a violation of IU information technology and IU intellectual property policies and additional consequences may result.

Accommodation for Disabilities: Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities (e.g. mental health, learning, chronic health, physical, hearing, vision, neurological, etc.). You must have established your eligibility for support services through Disability Services for Students. Note that services are confidential, may take time to put into place, and are not retroactive. Please contact Disability Services for Students at or 812-855-7578 as soon as possible if accommodations are needed. You can locate a variety of campus resources for students and visitors who need assistance at

Go to the Student Affairs website