All course information is listed within this syllabus.

TURF 853: Interpreting Turfgrass Science Literature (3 credits). Introduction to the scientific literature in turfgrass science and critical review of articles to acquire new insights and incorporate them into turfgrass cultural management programs.

Prerequisites: None


Instructor for TURF 853

Christina Fox Call, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
115 Buckhout Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802

Phone (Office): 814-863-4292
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Course Overview

This course will provide students with an ability to critically review the scientific literature in turfgrass science available in selected research journals and industry magazines (e.g., Crop Science, Agronomy Journal, Plant Disease) and professional magazines (e.g., Golf Course Management, USGA Green Section Record). This course is intended for field practitioners who access the scientific literature for the purpose of acquiring new insights and skills that they will be able to incorporate into their turfgrass cultural programs.

As part of Penn State's graduation requirements, students are required to complete the Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) Program. There are two parts to this program, which must be completed prior to graduation. The first part is an online module that can be completed at any time. You should have received an email at the beginning of the semester regarding the online Responsible Conduct of Research module. The second part of the SARI requirement is embedded into the course content of TURF 853 (Interpreting Turfgrass Science Literature).

Course Objectives

Upon completion of TURF 853, the students will learn to determine if:

  • The conclusions drawn by the author are adequately supported by the results obtained from the research.
  • There are statistically significant differences among treatment means in a table of data.
  • The statistical procedures employed to identify the trends or line fits for prediction of treatment responses were suitable.
  • The scientific methods employed were appropriate with respect to the specific research objectives.
  • The review of scientific literature in the introduction and the discussion sections of the article were sufficient to place the investigation in a meaningful context so that the research makes a meaningful contribution to turfgrass science and/or technology.

Tips and Suggestions

Here are a few notes to help you be a successful learner in an online course:

  • In addition to becoming familiar with the online learning environment, pay attention to the physical learning environment as well. Try to arrange everything ergonomically in your learning space.
  • Pay close attention to assignment due dates so that you can pace yourself and stay on track.
  • Plan ahead. For example, do not put off quizzes or assignments until the last minute because there is a chance that technology may be unavailable when you need it the most.
  • Check your e-mail regularly, but be patient while waiting for responses. (The goal for responses is 24 to 48 hours.)
  • Take advantage of tools available to communicate with your instructor and classmates (e.g., Canvas Inbox and FAQ Discussion topic)
  • Always use courtesy in online communication, and deal with conflict with respect.
  • Use the module objectives and assignments to evaluate your progress and to regulate your study pace. Talk to your instructor if you encounter a problem.
  • Participation is important to your learning experience in an online learning environment, so be confident in making contributions. Don't be afraid of making mistakes.
  • Be aware of the help resources available to you: the instructor, the Outreach HelpDesk, Outreach Student Services, Canvas help (question mark on the bottom left), and librarians.


What Is Expected of Members of Our Learning Community

  • Shared responsibility - While your purposes for taking this course may vary, our learning activities will draw upon peer insight and feedback and involve us in various combinations of individual and collaborative learning activities. Each of us should contribute to our web of learning, as well as benefit from it. You are part of a community, learning together.
  • Keep on top of things - Please establish a routine that allows you to regularly pace yourself and remain actively involved with course activities. While you can choose which time of the day and which days of the Module you log on and contribute, please do not disadvantage yourself and the rest of us by falling behind. The pace of this course is intense. Log on often (several times a week) to keep abreast of new postings, current e-mails, updated discussion, and overall course progress.
  • Prepare for absences - I encourage you to plan ahead. I understand many graduate students work and have families. As adult learners, you must pace yourself according to your schedule. Don't wait until the last minute! Others are depending on you and you don't want to get overwhelmed. If you need to be away from the course due to personal or family needs, please communicate with me via Canvas Inbox. If unexpected or extenuating circumstances arise that will keep you from being an active contributor, please communicate with me and I will do the same with you.
  • Issues of confidentiality, privacy, and ethics - As professionals, we face ethical issues frequently. Having the academic freedom to express ourselves in class demands that we protect each others' confidentiality outside of class. I expect that what is "said" on our course site will stay here.

What You Can Expect of Your Instructor

  • Contact and presence - My goal is to acknowledge or respond to personal and group questions, suggestions, dilemmas, or other course-related issues within 48 hours. However, the grading of course assignments usually takes longer.
  • Flexibility - As noted above, instructors are prepared to accommodate vacations, illnesses, and job emergencies, provided that there is a reasonable prospect or plan for making up the work. If you need to be late with an assignment, please discuss it with your instructor ahead of time.
  • Sense of Community - This course has been designed to operate within a learning community: having a shared purpose (course goals), a distinctive place to gather (the Canvas site), promoting effective work products from within our group (module assignments), establishing accepted norms (netiquette and mutual expectations), and allowing for a range of member roles and participation (team projects and responses to postings).

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials


This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. You can access these materials by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, or by accessing the Library E-Reserves Search and searching for your instructor's last name.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Quizzes 55
Exams 400
Independent Project 30
Graded Discussions 40
TOTAL: 525

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 86%
B < 86% – 83%
B- < 83% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 76%
C < 76% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Support Services

As a student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the following resources for more information:

Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures, and the Code of Conduct).

Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity on the Bias Response page.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their Web Privacy Statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD40, Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services, addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under federal and state laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The University offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Accommodations for Persons With Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

Course Availability

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