Concepts of Science

Concepts of Science Topics


Core-Science Sequence

Plagiarism and Honesty Policy

The Course - its Objectives and Expectations

You should refer to your lecture instructor’s syllabus for more information, but here are the general Concepts of Science program objectives and expectations. Also, the program attendance policy and other general policies are given below.


In accord with university student learning objectives, the student in this course will understand and appreciate the methods and issues of science and technology. To this end, the student in this course will: (1) learn the philosophical and historical foundations of modern science; (2) better understand the scientific method in a variety of situations and demonstrate an ability to interpret the results of experiments as a way of better understanding natural phenomena in several disciplines of science, including chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, ecology, and biology; (3) understand major scientific issues facing modern society, including the impact of human activity on our planet; and (4) acquire detailed knowledge of basic principles, laws, and theories of modern science.


The purpose of the lecture class is to present course material to you, convey information to you, and help prepare you for your exams. Therefore, students are expected to attend all classes and take notes for later study. Students are also expected to read ahead in the textbook and follow instructor directions on course preparation activities so that they have a background for lectures over the assigned topics. Additional reading and study of the book is expected after lectures have covered the topics in each chapter. Students are encouraged to review end-of-chapter material in preparation for exams. Each student is expected to put in an average of three hours studying outside of class for each hour spent in class. This is a general Concepts guideline, which is consistent with university guidelines, but some students may need more study time than this in order to perform well on exams and tests.


Concepts of Science is one option in the core curriculum of Auburn University that fulfills one of the two, sequential core-science courses required for most majors. It is as rigorous as the other core-science courses and is not a substitute for any other science course. Students are advised at the outset that it is expected they will spend as much time and effort preparing for this course as they would for a core-science class in physics, chemistry, geology, and biology at Auburn University. If a student elects to take Concepts of Science, he or she should be enrolled in Concepts of Science before taking any other core-science classes. Please consult with your advisor about enrollment in Concepts. Concepts of Science should precede your taking Biology 1010, Chemistry 1010, Geology 1100, Physics 1000 or Physics 1150, unless you have special advisor approval. The courses just listed are the only AU science classes that form a “science sequence” as required by the AU core. A student may elect to take Concepts of Science, for example, if he or she is undecided about what subsequent core science class to take and/or wishes to learn more about all the sciences as a gateway to taking additional science coursework.


Attendance is required at all lecture class meetings and at all laboratory sessions. Attendance in lecture and laboratory may be monitored by UNANNOUNCED TESTS, ROLL CHECKS, and/or CLICKER COUNTS. Unannounced tests generally CANNOT BE MADE UP because they represent a “performance aspect” of the class. Written EXCUSES for absences must be presented at the next class session or at least within 5 class days of the absence, whether you missed a test or roll check or not. In this course, ATTENDANCE IS DEFINED AS “coming to class on time, staying the whole time until dismissed (not leaving and coming back in), sitting in class not talking to others, NOT TALKING OR TEXT-MESSAGING ON YOUR CELL PHONE or WEB SURFING (including looking at social media), and paying proper attention to what is going on.” Please see the University Bulletin or the Student Policy eHandbook for guidance about what is and what is not an approved university excuse for an absence. Please talk to your instructor in advance if you have any questions about the Concepts attendance policy applies to you.

Laboratory sessions have an attendance policy of their own, which will be given in a separate laboratory syllabus or verbally in laboratory classes. Students must establish clearly with the laboratory teacher why they were absent – and have that excuse accepted – in order to be considered for any laboratory make up work. Generally, laboratory make up work is difficult to arrange and students should not expect to make up large amounts of laboratory work at one time (or lab work in any case) if it is clear that they could have been in lab to do the work in a timely manner during the semester. Warning - Poor lab attendance is the number one reason why students earn poor lab grades in Concepts classes.

Absences and Make-ups: You are not automatically entitled to a make-up exam, therefore you should not miss a scheduled exam except under extraordinary circumstances. In order to be eligible to take a make-up exam, you must: (1) contact your instructor as soon as you know you will miss the exam; (2) present a valid, written excuse to your instructor as soon as possible before or after the absence (do not wait for the next class period); and (3) agree with your lecture teacher on a mutually acceptable time for the make-up. Once a make-up time and day are set, you MUST appear at that time, or another official excuse is required.

Laboratory sessions:

Your laboratory sessions are conducted by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), who will give you appropriate assignments according to a separate syllabus. You are expected to attend do all assigned pre-lab preparatory work (including on-line work), attend all laboratory classes, follow the syllabus and all instructions given you during the laboratory, turn in work on time, and attend the full duration of the laboratory. Attendance in laboratory is defined the same way as in lecture class (see above). At the end of the semester (and at mid-term), your graduate teaching assistant will give your instructor a single grade (as a percent), which represents your semester’s laboratory work (and this is equal to 25% of the final course grade for the SCMH 1010 class). Any questions about your laboratory grade should be directed to your graduate teaching assistant as soon as they come up (and not to your lecture teacher). Your laboratory GTA is responsible for all grading in laboratory. Please discuss any concerns that you may have about instruction in the laboratory first with your laboratory GTA, and, if necessary, later on with your lecture instructor. Do NOT turn in laboratory papers or exercises to your lecture instructor or his substitute.

Academic honesty and student conduct policy: Students are referred to the University Bulletin and the Student Policy eHandbook for the university-wide academic honesty policy and its enforcement. Students should consult the Student Policy eHandbook for the classroom conduct policy. Students in this class are expected to follow these rules exactly. Further, your instructor reserves the right to enforce any reasonable additional honesty and conduct rules that may or may not be specifically covered in official documents or in this syllabus. Students should be guided by their conscience and a sense of what is fair to others regarding actions in the classroom. If a warning is given to a student about honesty or conduct, a Concepts student should expect no other second chance to correct his/her behavior. The instructor reserves the right to expel any student who continues to cause a disturbance after being warned of his behavior. Students are expected to be particularly respectful of the fact that we are meeting in an auditorium and therefore their behavior is especially important to maintaining a reasonable learning and testing environment. Using cell phones for calls, texts, or games during class is strictly forbidden – TURN YOUR CELL PHONES, LAPTOPS, iPADS, etc. OFF DURING CLASS LECTURES AND DURING EXAMS.

Plagiarism policy: Concepts students may not copy directly from others or from published (including on-line sources) and present that work as their own. Copying of lecture or laboratory assignments is strictly forbidden, and is punishable by any academic penalty that the lecture instructor or laboratory teacher sees fit (within university guidelines). Also see the Plagiarism Notice in the frontmatter of your Concepts lab book, which includes standard penalties. If you have questions about how this plagiarism policy applies to your work in Concepts, ask your lecture instructor or laboratory teacher about this before turning in any work.

Exam-day procedures:

Exams are on a closed-book basis, unless your instructor has told you otherwise in writing. Further, talking to others, answering cell phones, or using calculators is strictly forbidden during exams. Please turn OFF all cell phones upon entering the room. YOU MUST COME TO THE EXAM WITH YOUR AU ID CARD or some similar form of identification because you may be asked to establish your identity while in the exam room. Do not leave the exam with any exam paper, scan form, or anything you may have written during the exam. Please follow all instructions given to you before and during the exam. If your lecture instructor uses the campus testing center to administer exams, you are required to follow the rules of the testing center as well and are responsible for taking your exam at the agreed day and time at that location.


Unfortunately, many students take a class like Concepts and never say a word to the instructor. Concepts instructors encourage each of you to see them at some point during the term (but, please, not all of you during the last week of classes!). Please note that instructors (lecture and laboratory) frequently send E-MAIL TO THE ENTIRE CLASS using the official AU email system (which goes automatically to your AU email account). It is university policy that such e-mail is an “official medium” of communication with students and anything that your instructor sends to you this way has as much meaning and effect as if your instructor said it in class. Therefore, you are expected to activate your university e-mail account, check it regularly (recommended three times weekly at least), adjust any “spam filter” so that emails titled “SCMH 1010 CLASS EMAIL” are received, and to make any necessary provisions for having class e-mails forwarded to any other accounts or devices you prefer to use.

If any situation arises that affects a student’s ability to attend class, study effectively, take exams on time, finish the course, or perform lab work in a timely manner, the student is expected to communicate with the lecture instructor (and lab teacher, if appropriate) as soon as the student becomes aware of the issue.

Changing a final exam:

Any student who urgently needs to change a final exam time must follow his/her Dean’s office procedures to reschedule a final examination. Please work with your Dean’s office and your lecture instructor as early on in the semester as possible to change a final exam. Changing a final exam time and day is not possible in all instances. There may be a university deadline to reschedule a final exam, so please check the AU official calendar at the start of the semester if you think changing the Concepts final exam may be necessary for you. Do not wait until the last minute or book air travel or make travel plans until you have reviewed the official university final exam schedule and clearly understand what day and time is set aside for your Concepts final exam.

Conflicts disclaimer:

Any conflicts between the Concepts of Science program policy given above and statements contained in the syllabus of an individual lecture instructor may be resolved by contacting the lecture instructor and the program Director. Generally, the instructor’s syllabus takes precedence.