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Archives Lecture Outlines


Dr. Kaci Thompson
office: 1313 Symons Hall
office hours: by appointment
phone: 301-405-2160

Teaching Assistant:

Anna Liberatore



The goal of this course is to introduce students to the biology of the class Mammalia. The first portion of the course examines how they evolved, their distributions, and their their phylogenetic relationships. The middle section of the course focuses on diagnostic features and broad biological concepts as they relate to mammals (e.g., temperature regulation, reproduction, and locomotion). The last portion of the course is a survey of the living mammalian orders: their diagnostic features, life history characteristics and physiological and behavioral specializations.


Course format

Class meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45pm in 0215 ESJ


Google Drive for in class assignments:

The Mammalogy website has extensive supplemental material for the course, including lecture outlines, exam study questions, and an image archive of living mammals. In addition, we will be using ELMS for announcements, written assignments, recorded videos, tracking grades and asking questions of general relevance to the class. ELMS can be accessed at

Text (optional): Feldhamer, G.A., Drickamer, L.C., Vessey, S.H., Merritt, J.F., and Krajewski, C. 2015. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity and Ecology, 4th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press.

For the past several years, I have made the text optional. Only 11% of students in previous years thought it was necessary to require the textbook. This text provides additional detail on the topics we will cover in class, as well as photos and diagrams.  It is up to you whether you want to purchase the text to have access to these materials.

Course-related communications: I will send out time-sensitive information via ELMS announcements. If you need to contact me, you can email me directly at the address above or send a message through ELMS. You can also call my office phone and leave a message if I am not there, although in most cases email is the fastest way to reach me.

Course structure: The course is organized as a series of modules. Each module spans 1-2 weeks and consists of

  • In person lectures
  • Written reflections
  • In class group activities
  • Brief written assignments based on reading the primary literature
  • Unit quizzes


Activities, learning assessments and expectations for students

  • Each lecture topic has a hyperlinked outline that provides a framework for what you are expected to learn. The lecture outline also contains links to additional readings (these are generally optional) and images (these are IMPORTANT). Although many of the major points will be contained in the outline, the details will not, and these details are important to understanding the topic deeply. I will also expect you to know these details for unit quizzes and use them as evidence to support arguments you make on exams. I recommend that you print out or download lecture outlines prior to class. The outlines are intended to help you organize the material we will be covering and to enable you to listen to lectures rather than doing an inordinate amount of notetaking. You can add your notes directly to the outlines.
  • To prepare for each lecture, I recommend that you read through the lecture outline to get a general sense of what will be discussed. The class schedule also contains suggested readings from the text. The text is very detailed, so if you choose to use it I recommend that you browse through these sections before class to familiarize yourself with the topic, then read the material more deeply after class to reinforce what you learned.
  • Our class meetings are designed to give you the chance to think about how what you are learning connects to what you have learned previously in this or other classes. They also give you a chance to verbalize your understanding, which solidifies your learning. In addition, they give you the opportunity to ask questions to fill in gaps in your understanding or expand your understanding beyond what we have already discussed.
  • During most class meetings, we will have in-class worksheets that ask you to apply what you've learned. You will work on these in groups. We will be using Google Drive to collect these assignments, and they will contribute to your final grade.
  • In addition, we will have four in-class discussions of scholarly papers that relate to what we are learning in class. For all but the first one, you will read an assigned paper and complete a short written reflection before attending class (Read/write/discuss assignments). These assignments are designed to deepen your understanding of course material and familiarize you with some of the current research in the field. Reflections will be graded based on a rubric. These assignments will help you hone your ability to read the primary literature, recognize the most important content, understand how this new information connects to what you've already learned, understand its real-world significance and application, and express your ideas concisely in writing. The reflections will be submitted in ELMS.
  • Each unit will have a multiple choice quiz worth 10-20 points. These quizzes are designed to help you learn factual information and terminology. You can retake each quiz for a total of three attempts. Only the highest grade will count towards your final grade. Questions are drawn from a large question bank, so you are likely to see different questions on each attempt.
  • There will be two exams during the semester and a final exam. Each is worth 100 points towards your final grade. The format for the exams will be short answer.

Assignment due dates were chosen to best facilitate your understanding of the material, therefore I expect you to submit them on time. Late assignments will be accepted, but will accrue a penalty of 10% for each day (or fraction of a day) that the assignment is late unless previous arrangement have been made with me for a different due date.


Course schedule

Here is our plan for the semester. Be advised that the timing of topics might shift a bit, depending on how quickly we are able to move through the material. The dates of the exams will still occur on the dates scheduled.

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Component Total points
Exams 300
In-class worksheets and exit tickets 210
Read/Write/Discuss assignments 100
Unit quizzes 140


Your final grade in the class will be based on a total of 750 points. The breakdown of points is shown in the table above. You will have a quizz at the end of most modules. There will also be two in class exams and a final exam. You'll find more detailed information about the modules and graded assignments in ELMS.

In most years, I have not curved the grades, but I reserve the right to do so if the distribution of grades warrants. Any curves will be based upon final point totals only, and will always be in favor of the student (i.e., a student earning 90% of the total points for the course will receive no less than an A-). Plus/minus grading will be used.


Campus policies

It is our shared responsibility to know and abide by the University of Maryland's policies that relate to all courses, which include topics such as:

  • Academic integrity
  • Student and instructor conduct
  • Accessibility and accommodations
  • Attendance and excused absences
  • Grades and appeals
  • Copyright and intellectual property

Please visit for the Office of Undergraduate Studies' full list of campus-wide policies and don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions about how those policies pertain to our class.