Pretty easy, overall.
Dr. McGuire is a great guy and a good professor. His lectures are just him reading the powerpoints he makes and explaining them, so for the most part going to class isn't necessary; everything is pretty self-explanatory. The information is well organized and easy to follow. Tests simply cover what is on the powerpoints; questions are mostly multiple choice and focus on interpreting graphs and applying the basic principles of ecology that he discusses to hypothetical scenarios. The only annoying thing is that attendance is recorded by responding to questions posted sporadically throughout the class. If you aren't attending class, you need to have PollEverywhere pulled up on your computer browser at all times so that you don't miss too many questions.
The course material is both pretty interesting and pretty useful for environmental scientists. The class discusses topics on different scales, starting by simply describing different environments for life to live in (biomes), then moving on to interactions life has with its environment, to interactions between life forms, to nutrient cycling. We discussed how to interpret a temperature and precipitation graph to conclude where on the earth the data was taken from, for example. We discussed examples of the many social relations between organisms, and how the social relations between different life forms cause different population distributions. The class moves on to discussing population growth curves and the circumstances that dictate how a population will grow, to life histories: how events that occur in an organism's development can influence its traits and behaviors as an adult. After the last midterm, the class gets rather dry, discussing energy and nutrient cycling and large scale general ecology in the last few weeks before the final.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
The TA's and Dr. McGuire run extra help sessions 3 times a week, so if you do find yourself struggling you can always go to those. It helps to remember the specific examples he talks about in class, as the questions on the test often refer to specific examples, and sometimes expect you to remember the scenario based mainly on just the name of the species involved. It also is a good idea to memorize the major equations he gives you and the situations they describe, as he asks about them often on the later tests.