AGECO 121 Course Syllabus

Fall 2016 AGECO 121 Plant Stress: It's Not Easy Being Green (3 credits) Course Syllabus

Course Logistics

Professor: Tim McNellis, Ph.D.

Class times: M W F | 11:15-12:05 p.m.

Location: lectures in 112 Chambers; labs in 103 Buckhout Lab or as noted on Course Schedule

Required text: Biology of Plants, 8th ed., by R.F. Evert and S.E. Eichhorn, W.H. Freeman and Company, Publishers, New York, NY.

Instructor Contact Information:
Office: 318 Buckhout Lab
Office phone: (814) 863-7646
Office hours: Tuesdays 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Laboratory: 307 Buckhout Lab
Lab phone: (814) 865-8379

Course Description

AGECO 121 Plant Stress: It's Not Easy Being Green is an introduction to plant biology with a strong emphasis on plant “stress” biology – how plants deal with the many hazards that they face, including diseases, insects, the weather, and animals. Course activities include lectures, class discussions, guest lectures, laboratory activities, and movies. This General Education (GN) course is designed to be accessible to non-science majors.

Course Objectives

During this course, you will be expected to:

  • Develop an understanding of basic plant biological processes;
  • Know and understand the major challenges faced by plants during their day-to-day struggle for survival;
  • Know and understand the strategies used by plants to deal with these challenges;
  • Relate plant “stress” biology to human needs and desires.

Course Grading

Your progress toward the course objectives will be measured by two midterm exams, lab activity participation, in-class worksheets, and a final exam. Exams include online objective questions and in-class essay/short answer questions. Course grades will be determined using a 100-point scale: A = 93-100; A- = 90-92; B+ = 87-89; B = 83-86; B- = 80-82; C+ = 75-79; C= 65-74; D = 51-64; F = 50 or lower. The course grading scale may be changed, as necessary or appropriate, by the instructor.

The following items will be worth the indicated number of points:

Midterm Exam #1 16
Midterm Exam #2 16
Labs and Arboretum Tour * 32
In-class Worksheets 20
Final Exam 16

*Each of the 10 labs is worth 3 points, and attending the Arboretum tour is worth 2 points, for a total of 32 possible points.

Academic Integrity

You are expected to adhere to the Pennsylvania State University’s policies of academic integrity. Unacceptable academic conduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating on exams, copying someone else’s answer on an exam, plagiarism on a written or oral assignment, or presenting someone else’s work of any kind as your own.


You are strongly advised to attend lectures and labs. However, if you feel ill or are experiencing flu symptoms, you should not attend class. This helps to reduce spread of the flu. Contact the professor to make arrangements to make up missed material. If you have a scheduling conflict with an exam, let the professor know as soon as possible beforehand so that a make-up exam can be scheduled.


Clickers are strongly encouraged for this course, but not absolutely required. We will be doing some active learning activities with clickers, although not for points. You should bring your clicker to class every day.


On lab days, there will be no regular lecture. Instead, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a time slot on lab days. To accommodate everyone in the space available, you might need to sign up for a time slot other than regular class time, such as during a time when you have a break between your other classes. We will make every reasonable effort to accommodate everyone’s schedule so that everyone can participate in the labs.