Final Exam Preparation
20% = 100 Multiple Choice Questions (2 points each)
20% = 15-20 Short Answer Questions (5-20 points each)
40% = Total Final Exam Score
We are quickly approaching the time when you get to press your brain and exercise what you have learned. Designing exams is actually quite a challenge because I want to reinforce what you have learned, not confuse issues or penalize you for less than perfect knowledge.
What to study:
You should have sufficient knowledge to reflect that you understand the scientific, technical, economic, social, political, and cultural factors inherent in environmental problems. I don't expect you to the next EPA director, but I DO expect you to be fluent and conversant enough with the terminology and the underlying cause/effect relationships that you could speak confidently with a new aquiantance or at a business reception.
First and MOST importantly, read and complete all of the modules (#1-#5). You should be able to go through the self-assessment questions and answer most of them without clicking on the answer. Of course, most of the answers could be pages long but you should have a good idea of what the issues, concerns, and basic answer is.
Second, review the terms used / highlighted in each covered chapter of your textbook. You may not have the ideal 'memorized' scientific definition of say.... "trophic structure" in your memory. But you should be able to say that it is how different species interact relative to their function and role within an ecosystem. For example you learned that a Killer Whale is a carnivore that eats otters. Otters are omnivores that eat sea urchins. Sea urchins are herbivores that eat sea grass. In other words, each species has its own role in the 'structure' of the ecosystem. If we remove one species function, it has effects on the others. Ecologists define these interactions by grouping similar functional species (all the carnivores, all the herbivores, plants) into trophic levels.
Third, look over your homework exercises. What was the message or purpose inherent in the exercise? What factors played a role, what didn't, and what were the interactions. Again, take away the otters from the above example and......Crash.... Why?
Fourth, review the additional readings you had. What was the main message to all these authors? How did it influence your thinking of the issues?
Fifth, ask questions in the "Ask the Prof" Conference if you are confused by an issue. They ARE Confusing because there are many MANY factors at play. So don't hesitate to ask a question. I don't have all the answers of course; some people devote their whole lives to studying just one issue. I have a colleague who studies all that occurs in the ocean/atmospheric interface ecosystem. He has devoted years to studying the top 3 cms of the oceans surface and there are all kinds of interesting organisms, species, chemical and abiotic interactions that occur in that tiny little slice of water.
Sixth, don't get the impression that its all doom and gloom. Sometimes after reading all the material one might be tempted to believe we are all in for a horrible future. Not So! Just think how the internet and computers have influenced life (positively for the most part). There are plenty of environmental success stories in the world, just read your newspaper and I am sure articles on environmental subjects appear weekly if not daily. It might an article on how to attract birds to your back yard. Or someone becoming aware of a hazard in their home such as Radon gas and having the knowledge or access to knowledge to treat the problem.
Finally, use common sense. Really, almost all of the environmental issues boil down to thinking beyond your own immediate world and considering how an action here and now has impacts tommorrow and elsewhere. You have gained insight into those interconnections, now apply that to your perspective (as you no doubt already have) and appreciate the outcomes.
Part One of the exam consists of 15 or so short answer questions. Most are two or three WORD answers, several are two or three SENTENCES, and one or two require a Paragraph or so to answer.
Part Two of the exam consists of around 100 mutliple choice questions. For the most part your selections are A-D, some have A-E, and a few are A(true) or B(false).
There may also be an extra question that is relatively subjective. Please feel free to be concise and candid in your answers. Writing long answers won't impress me nearly as much as using keywords that are integrated sufficiently to reflect that you know what the issues are, and what the questions addresses. The exam is not long when you consider that this is a 6 credit course covering science and the humanities. I may post the answers for the exam on the web-site or mail copies to each of you at the conclusion of the testing period. Remember: it is likely that mail service between us will be very slow. So, take the exam early and don't expect to get the actual hard copy results back for a while. Your grade will most likely be posted through UMUC far in advance of you actually getting my written comments on your exams. This is almost entirely due to postal delays in getting everyone's exam in, and many of you are not located in Maryland.
Good luck, study hard, and enjoy exercising your brain and showing off your smarts!