Course Syllabus

Welcome to Agronomy 599M at Iowa State University!

Instructor: Dr. David Kwaw-Mensah
Email Address: 

Office Hours: Key activities in Office Hours include answering unclear content from modules, review of key module content, assignment issues/questions, and preparation for exams.


Course Overview

Welcome to Agron 599: Creative Component Seminar. We created this seminar in response to thoughts and suggestions expressed by graduating students. Almost all of them have told us that their Creative Component project was one of the most rewarding aspects of their graduate studies. However, they also told us that getting a project started and gaining traction with it were difficult. This seminar was created to help you get off to a good start on your creative component project.

To be successful in this seminar you need to be far enough along in your program to be confident that you can handle the extra work. Do not let the course title and the number of credits deceive you; this seminar will take a lot of your time and require assignments that are quite different than what you may have completed in other courses. You will be expected to develop your idea for a project into a plan for completing it. There will be a series of writing assignments that will guide you through this process. The tasks start out relatively easy, but successively become more difficult culminating in a project proposal. Your final proposal should be of the quality that you would present to your employer. You need to take it seriously and have the time to do a good job with it.

In shaping the seminar course, we have tried to anticipate your needs and created modules in response to the most common questions and concerns about the creative component expressed by students. We know will be other topics that we will want to include as we learn from you. After all, this course is intended to provide the answers and information you need to get off to a good start with your creative component. Your feedback is essential to our goal of making the process towards a successful creative component as straightforward as possible.

This course will be different than others in our program.  There are no exams, and your assignments will mostly contribute to the creative component report you have to write as part of the requirements for graduation. We will try to provide the best advice possible in selecting and developing a topic, choosing an advisor, and writing a proposal for your creative component. To do that, we need for you to be willing to communicate your ideas and to be open to advice. We will not tell you what to do, but will try to discourage you from doing things that are unreasonably difficult. In the end, we want you to be successful and hope that by offering this seminar we can make your creative component experience a positive and fulfilling one.

Course Objectives


  1. Acquaint students with the learning objectives inherent in completing a creative component project
  2. Delineate the expectations for creative component projects
  3. Describe the process of identifying a creative component topic and developing a project proposal
  4. Provide instructions for writing the creative component report and preparing for its defense


  1. Develop an idea for your creative component project
  2. Identify a mentor
  3. Complete POSC appointment form
  4. Develop a pre-proposal for your creative component project idea

Course Structure


  1. Orientation to the creative component
  2. Selecting and developing a topic
  3. Working with your Program of Study Committee (POSC)
  4. Planning and conducting a research project
  5. Planning and implementing an educational project
  6. Guidelines for writing the proposal and final report
  7. Preparing for your final defense

Instructor Interactions

Office Hours: Key activities in Office Hours include answering unclear content from modules, review of key module content, assignment issues/questions, and preparation for exams.

Email: Feel free to message the instructor via the Canvas Inbox if you have any questions or concerns.

Discussions: Instructors interact with students as the discussions are trending, leaving comments and giving feedback. Feel free to draw the instructor into the discussion with a question.

Graded Feedback: All graded assessments will be returned with feedback within 7 days of the due date. Module Reflections will be returned before the Module Exam Question is due so that you may use my feedback as a study tool.

Grading Procedures

This seminar is graded on a Satisfactory/Fail basis. You need to earn 400 of a possible 500 points and complete all assignments to receive a Satisfactory grade.

Grades will be assigned for participation in the course discussions and assignments. The due dates and points assigned to each activity are:

Agron 599M Graded Activities

Check the course homepage in Canvas for a full list of graded activities in Agron 599m.

Please note that 40% of the effort is related to the preproposal that you are required to write in Module 6.  In the three assignments associated with this module you will be preparing three drafts culminating in a final document that you will share with your Advisor as a starting point for developing your project.  The expectations for the preproposal are laid out in some detail in Module 6.  However, you need to be aware at the start of the seminar that writing an acceptable preproposal is going to take a significant amount of time. The three assignments in Module 6 are spread out over six weeks. You will need to set aside substantial time during this period to work on these assignments.  If for some reason you anticipate that you will not be able to devote the time necessary during this period your are advised to drop the seminar and register at another time.


Discussion Topics

The course discussion topics are designed to get you thinking about a topic, but beyond that they are intended to stimulate discussion. For that to work, you need to read every post and reply to at least one in a way that demonstrates that you are engaged in the conversation.

Grading Rubric

Criteria Grading Level 1 Grading Level 2 Possible Points
Postings Posted a response to the topic or to someone else's comment s on it (1 pt.) Responded to topic and at least one classmate's or instructor's posting (2 pts.) 2
Contribution to Overall Discussion Limited depth of posting; did not bring in new, relevant points (1 pt.) In-depth posting adding much to and advancing the discussion (2 pts.) 2
Connection to Concepts and/or Principles Comments related to topic, but did not directly connect to concepts and principles (1 pt.) Clearly connected comments with concepts and principles (2 pts.) 2
Response to Classmate's Posting Added little to classmate's posting (1 pt.) Added much to classmate's posting (2 pts.) 2
Posted by Deadline Not posted by closing deadline (0 pts.) Posted by deadline (2 pts.) 2
    Total Possible 10



Communication Policy

All communication within the course should adhere to university standards of Netiquette at ISU. Specifically, communication should be scholarly, respectful, professional, and polite. You are encouraged to disagree with other students, but such disagreements need to be based upon facts and documentation. It is the instructor’s goal to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect in our interactions. Please contact the instructor if you have suggestions for improving the interactions in this course.

Use the Course Questions forum in Canvas (or e-mail) to ask questions, share an interesting article or observation, or comment on current and relevant events. Keep informed—check the discussion board frequently. I will monitor the discussion board and my email during "regular business hours" and you can expect a response within one business day.

General announcements will be posted to the Announcements section of the Learning Management System.

Be sure to properly configure your Notification settings or commit yourself to checking Canvas daily for new communication.

Additional guidelines apply to communication within your discussion groups. Please review the Discussion Topic rubric shown above.

Feedback Policy

All graded assessments will be returned with feedback within 7 days of the due date. Module Reflections will be returned before the Module Exam Question is due so that you may use my feedback as a study tool.


All deadlines are posted on the Course Calendar in Canvas. 

Need extra time to meet a deadline? Explain the situation to your instructor IN ADVANCE and accommodation can be made.  The explanation doesn't need to be extensive.  The important factor is to attempt to notify the instructor ahead of time. Late assignments might not be accepted without previous notice.


Category Description Action

Course Content Support

Questions related to course content or grading should be directed to the course instructor. Instructor via Canvas Inbox

Student Support

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching is an organization dedicated to supporting, promoting, and enhancing teaching effectiveness and student learning at ISU.

Self-guided orientation which you may find useful.

CELT: Online Learner Support

Self-Guided Orientation

Canvas Technical Support

If you experience any technical issues while using Canvas, contact the Solution Center. The Solution Center's hours are posted on their website.

Solution Center

Technology support

If you have any technical issues while using the University Library's Course Reserves system, please refer to the Library's FAQ page.

For all other technical issues, contact Agron DevLab Support. The Agronomy Development Lab staff will respond to requests within 24 hours during regular business hours. All requests made during the weekend will be addressed first thing Monday morning.

Course Reserves FAQ


Agron DevLab Support

Writing Support

The MS Agronomy program has built a Writing Guide to help answer some of the questions you may have while working on your courses.

Ms. Amy Pollpeter is available for one-on-one consultations and can assist you with any part of the writing process. Schedule an appointment with Amy through the CELT's website or via email.

Writing Guide

CELT's website or via email.

Library and research support

Anita Kay is the liaison librarian to the Department of Agronomy. She can help find any article, book or any other piece of information that you want assistance finding.  Anita has also built a really useful Agronomy Research Guide (Links to an external site.).

Anita Kay
Agronomy Research Guide (Links to an external site.)

Department Contact

Contact Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft, Associate Chair for Academics in Agronomy, if issues persist after working with the support systems listed above.

Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft

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Course Summary:

Date Details Due