All course information is listed within this syllabus.

ENT 202: The Insect Connection (3 credits). This course is an introduction to the diversity of insects and the ways in which they interact with humans and impact our world.

ENT 202 fulfills a general education requirement for social and behavioral sciences (GS) as well as for natural sciences (GN).

Instructor

Instructor for ENT 202

Jared Gregory Ali, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Entomology

Department of Entomology
5535 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Educational/Professional Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University (2013), Ecol. & Evol. Biology
  • Ph.D., University of Florida (2011), Entomology & Nematology
  • MSc, University of Delaware (2008), Entomology & Applied Ecology

Research Interests

My focus is on the behavior and chemical ecology of mutli-trophic interactions. This includes plant responses to belowground herbivory, nematode and insect community ecology, chemical ecology, and coevolution. Research projects include trophic cascades, above-belowground interactions, chemotaxis of soil nematodes, and the evolution of plant defense strategies.

Communication

E-mailing me: I will endeavor to respond to every e-mail within 24 hours. If you haven't received a response within 48 hours, please check your spam folder. If you still don't see a reply from me, something is probably amiss. Please try a different way to contact me (phone, Canvas messaging). I don't want to miss any messages! Be aware that I do not check email after 7 p.m.

E-mailing you: I will occasionally e-mail members of the class. Please check your e-mail regularly to be sure you get the info I send out. Occasionally the e-mails may inform you that action is needed on your part to earn extra credit, or a deadline for an assignment has changed, etc., so it is important that you get these e-mails. By default, I will use your PSU e-mail address. If you don't use this address, or prefer I use a different e-mail address, just let me know.

Course Overview

What I want you to get from this course is pretty simple.

First, I want you to become familiar with insects, so the next time you see that thing crawling on your friend's neck you can calm their fears, using your knowledge about insects and other arthropods. When you go home for the holidays you can wow your friends and family with the sex lives of bedbugs and the helpful things maggots can do for people (dead or alive). More importantly, I want you to understand what it really means to find spiders in your bathroom, ants (or worse) in your pants, the consequences of blasting your yard every week with insecticides, and whether that gadget in the Sharper Image catalog will really kill mosquitoes.

Second, I want you to get an appreciation for the important good and bad things insects do for us. Many have central roles in sustaining our world, and yet other types of insects are responsible for transmitting devastating diseases that kill millions of people every year. Through this course, you will discover that insects are so important to people that they are often a component of art, literature, and religion.

Third, I want you to come away with a little better understanding of how the process of science works. Although I am not recruiting entomology Ph.D. students with this course, you are asked to believe something 'scientific' every day, on the morning news, in what you read, even in course materials. How do you know what to believe? Is global warming real? Does it matter? How much should you be worrying about Zika virus and mosquitoes? Some of what you hear is true, some is partly true, and some is untrue. I'd like you to know enough to tell the difference between truth and hype and maybe make better decisions based on this knowledge, for example, when voting on policies that affect our environment or shopping for insecticides at the hardware store.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of ENT 202, students will have to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of the course material. During the course of this semester, you will illustrate your comprehension of the course material by correctly answering multiple choice and T/F questions on 24 short online quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam.
  • Learn to evaluate the validity of what you read in the news about insects and related arthropods. News stories about insects and related arthropods (such as spiders, mites and ticks) are not always accurate and sometimes the author uses their story to scare the reader with a slanted point of view. You will evaluate the accuracy of the scientific claims in a news article from the popular press about insects or related arthropods by checking the validity of the "facts" presented in the article. The news story you choose must center on insects, spiders, ticks, or mites and you will complete this assignment in 3 parts with different due dates.
  • Assess your learning experience. You will have the opportunity to submit a draft and final version of your writing assignment with feedback from me to improve your grade (if needed) on the final version.

Course Schedule

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

Course Materials

There is no textbook required for this course. Everything you need to know is in the modules.

Grading Policy

Assignments

You are required to pass the Orientation Quiz on Canvas with at least 79% during the first week of classes to gain access to the course content. You will also get credit for this, up to 10 points, towards your final grade.

Online Quizzes: You are required to complete 2 Modules and the quiz associated with those Modules each week (unless otherwise stipulated in the Course Schedule). However, for those who like to work ahead, 4 quizzes will be open at a time with the due date listed in several places, including the subheading for each quiz, under the Course Summary in the Canvas Syllabus and on the Calendar in Canvas. Thus, during the semester there will be 24 online quizzes (taken in Canvas) and each quiz will be worth 10 points. There will be 10 questions per quiz with a 15-minute time limit; you may take each quiz twice and receive the highest score between your 2 attempts. The lowest 4 of the 24 quiz scores will be dropped, thus the total points available on quizzes is 200. Quiz questions are randomly selected from a large bank of questions for each Module. You are permitted to use your lecture notes for the quizzes; however, you must take the quiz without the assistance of anyone else unless you have written permission from me. Quizzes will open at 7 am and close on the date they are due at 11:59 pm EST.

Midterm and Final Exams: Students will take the midterm mid-semester and the final exam during finals week online using Canvas. Each exam will consist of a random selection of multiple choice and T/F questions from the same banks of questions used for the online quizzes and the exam will be timed; you will have 75 minutes to answer 100 questions. The final exam will not be cumulative but will be on material covered in class since the midterm unless I specifically indicate topics from the midterm that will be included on the final. Exact dates/times for these exams are shown on the Course Summary (Canvas Syllabus page) and if changes occur, you will be notified by email.

To help you study for exams: I will reopen quizzes 1-11 one week before the midterm and quizzes 12-24 one week before the final to help you study. However, you may NOT use notes or revisit course content (modules or other web sites) while taking the midterm or final exams. Doing so will be considered cheating and a violation of academic integrity. We are able to monitor web activity during an exam.

I do NOT expect you to know the two-word Latin name of any insect (genus and species); these names are always in italics. I do not expect you to know that the gypsy moth's scientific name is Lymantria dispar. In some cases the Latin names are shown in the text of a module, but you do not need to memorize these names. For example, you might see the phrase "gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) eat oak leaves" in a lesson.

Glossary of new terms for your use: A glossary of definitions of scientific terminology as used in entomology is available for your use and can be found in the "Resources" module in Canvas. Terms are listed alphabetically.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Point Value
Best 20 of 24 Quizzes 200
Midterm Exam 50
Final Exam 50
TOTAL: 300
Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage Points
A 100% – 94% 285–300
A- < 94% – 90% 270–284
B+ < 90% – 87% 261–269
B < 87% – 84% 252–260
B- < 84% – 80% 240–251
C+ < 80% – 77% 231–239
C < 77% – 70% 210–230
D < 70% – 60% 180–209
F < 60% < 180

Your grades will be updated on Canvas throughout the semester, so you will know exactly where you stand at all times. If you find discrepancies between what you think your grades should be and what you find on Canvas, please let me know as soon as possible. If you're struggling in this class, feel you could be doing better, or you're not having fun or have a question, PLEASE contact me. I will do my very best to answer your e-mail within a few hours and at most within 24 hours.

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate 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.

Missed and Late Assignments

There will be no make-up quizzes. Students can drop 4 of the 24 quizzes, so I encourage you to avoid missing a quiz so you can use your dropped quizzes for low scoring quizzes rather than 0's. In other words, don't assume you will get 100% on 20 quizzes so you can just miss 4; this won't happen for most of you and you will need to cover the material anyway for the midterm and final exams. If you are online taking a quiz or uploading your assignment and a technical problem arises, send me an e-mail about it immediately. This is your proof that a problem occurred and will permit me to help you complete the assignment.

Bugs in the News assignments can be submitted after their due date has passed but will accrue a penalty of 10% per day the assignment is late.

Remember you will need to complete 2 modules per week and the quizzes for those modules to keep up.

If you are unable to take the midterm or final exam during the dates scheduled, inform me at least 10 days in advance so that I may make other arrangements for you. If an emergency or illness should prevent you from taking your exam within the allotted time frame, email me or leave me a voicemail at my office that day if at all possible so I may work with you to reschedule (814-863-6369).

Technical Requirements

Reliable access to the Internet is essential (day and night) as well as the ability to view YouTube videos. Unless you are hearing impaired, you will need sound on your computer as well.

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the 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.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas.

Netiquette

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.

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you experience technology problems of any kind in Canvas, please select the Help icon and select "Report a Canvas Problem," "Chat with Support," or "Call Support." It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. 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.).

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.

Penn State Policies

Log-In 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 for each semester 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).

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 to foster 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 at the Report Bias webpage.

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 webpage for information regarding its rules on 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 AD 40, the University Policy 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 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.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
  • Mental Health Services

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 Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

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's 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 the 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.