BIO 110 -- General Biology -- Fall 2017

Contact Information & Office Hours

Click HERE for a general, PDF version of the syllabus (no dates).

1. Textbook*: Campbell Biology In Focus, 2nd Ed. (Urry et al. 2015; Pearson Education, Inc.)
2. An Access Code* for Mastering Biology (Pearson) is needed for online homework.
3. The Laboratory Manual is available for download on D2L. Lecture slides, outlines, and study guides are also posted on D2L.
* A package including a custom version of the textbook and an access code is available in the bookstore.

Catalog Description:
BIO 110 covers the concepts general to all living organisms such as cell structure and function, genetics, evolution and ecology. This course is designed for majors in biology and related scientific areas. The course includes 2 1-hour lectures and 1 3-hour laboratory per week.

My Goals & Approach:
BIO 110 is an introductory/survey biology course for science majors, therefore a lot of facts and details are involved. However, studying science is not just about memorizing facts. It is also about understanding the process by which scientists think and learn about the world around us. In this course, I hope that you:

  • Learn about biology at multiple levels of organization.
  • Learn about the process of doing science.
  • Understand evolution as the theme that unifies all of biology.

Finally, I hope that you retain the information and perspective gained in this course after the course is over. Toward that end, I will make an effort to contextualize and connect the material presented throughout this course as part of the large (and growing) field of biology. All of this is done within the framework of encouraging you to think rather than memorize.

General Education Learning Objectives:
BIO 110 is an approved course in the West Chester University General Education program, recognized as a Science Distributive. It is designed to help you meet the following General Education goals (see section below for student learning outcomes and assessments):

  • Gen Ed Goal #1: Communicate effectively
  • Gen Ed Goal #2: Think critically and analytically
  • Gen Ed Goal #3: Employ quantitative analysis and mathematical models

Biological Learning Objectives:
Students successfully completing BIO 110 will meet the following learning objectives:

  • Demonstrate competency in key biological content and concepts at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecosystem levels.
  • Demonstrate a general knowledge of the fundamental terminology, concepts, and processes common to all living systems, whether plant, animal, fungus, or microbe.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic laboratory techniques utilized in modern biological research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the means by which a researcher recognizes the potential of a given project, creates an experimental design, performs the experiment, and interprets the collected data.
  • Demonstrate competency in quantitative reasoning and critical/analytical thinking.
  • Develop an awareness of science as a human endeavor with social consequences and responsibilities.

Meeting & Assessing Student Learning Outcomes:
Communicate effectively: Students will express themselves effectively in presentations in lab and demonstrate comprehension of and ability to explain information and ideas accessed through reading. In the first lab students give a presentation and are graded according to a rubric. Each lab (except the first) begins with a quiz based uniquely on the introduction to each lab as written in the lab manual. Students are also asked, as part of lab “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises, to construct sentences using a set of key words thereby illustrating the ability to communicate the connections among key concepts.

Think critically and analytically: Students will construct and analyze arguments in terms of the premises, assumptions, contexts, conclusions, and anticipated counter-arguments; students will also be required to reach sound conclusions based on a logical analysis of evidence and develop creative approaches to assignments. Based on experimentally generated data presented in lecture and laboratory, students are challenged to analyze results and interpret their meaning. Throughout the semester, questions are posed, and students are challenged to answer them, based not on what they feel or what they would like the answer to be, but on the data presented. Weekly lab assignments ask students to “Apply Their Knowledge” whereby they demonstrate learned information and the ability think critically and analytically. Additionally, some exam questions require students to think about the concepts that have learned rather than simply recognize memorized information.

Employ quantitative analysis and mathematical methods: Students will employ quantitative methods to examine a problem in the natural world and apply the basic methods and thought processes of the scientific method for the natural sciences. In lecture and laboratory precise measurements are made or illustrated, interpreted, and used to explain/understand all manner of biological phenomena. In lecture, students are presented with data to interpret. In laboratory, students form hypotheses, run experiments, generate data, analyze this data, and interpret the meaning of this data in terms of whether their hypotheses are supported or not. Additionally, as examples of mathematical methods, several laboratories employ statistical hypothesis testing and the ecology lectures & laboratory use mathematical models to illustrate population growth and regulation.

Biological knowledge: Throughout the course, fundamental details describing the organization, structure and function at all levels of life are presented and discussed with emphasis placed on the process/development of biological knowledge. Student comprehension of this knowledge is assessed by lecture and laboratory exams.

Attendance Policy:
Attendance in lecture and laboratory is mandatory. Any material covered in lecture (laboratory) is fair game for the lecture (laboratory) exams, whether it is in the required readings or not.

A letter grade will be assigned based on your performance in the course. Grades are calculated as a percentage of the total points available (900), rounded to the second decimal, and defined as follows: A = 90.00-100%; B = 80.00-89.99%; C = 70.00-79.99%; D = 60.00-69.99%; F < 59.99%. (+) and (-) will be assigned according to University policy. All grades, including other grades (e.g., NG, Z), will follow policy described in the Undergraduate Catalog. Your course grade is made up of the following measures:

  • Lecture Exams (3 @ 100 points): 300 points
  • Final Exam (1 @ 180 points): 180 points
  • Weekly Homework: 120 points
  • Laboratory Quizzes (9 @ 5 points): 45 points
  • Laboratory Assignments (AYKs) (10 @ 10 points; 1 @ 5): 105 points
  • Laboratory Exams (2 @ 75 points): 150 points

There will be 3 in-class (lecture) exams covering the material in equal proportions and 1 cumulative (final) exam. The final exam will be roughly 50% new material (covered in the last quarter of the course) and 50% cumulative. These exams will be in a multiple-choice format and graded with a ScanTron sheet. There will also be two laboratory exams that will cover material presented in laboratory. No exam (lecture or laboratory) may be taken at a time other than the assigned time without permission from Dr. Auld and proper documentation (see policy below). Note: If you arrive late for an exam and other students have already completed the exam, you will not be allowed to take the exam.

Exam Grade Change Policy:
All concerns/inquiries regarding changes to exam grades must be submitted within 1 week of when the exam scores are announced. After 1 week, no changes to exam scores will be made.

Exam Make-up Policy:
If you are unable to take an exam at the regularly scheduled time due to an excused absence (see Excused Absences Policy), proper documentation (e.g., doctor's excuse) must be provided in hard copy (no e-mail attachments) in order for a make-up exam to be arranged. Additionally, you must contact the instructor (Auld for all lecture exams, lab instructor for laboratory exams) within 48 hours after the exam or you forfeit your chance for a make-up. Missed exams without proper documentation will be marked as a score of 0.

Weekly Homework:
Weekly homework assignments must be completed online using the Mastering Biology system. Access to this system can be purchased as a package with the textbook or independently. You must enroll in the course using the following course ID: MBAULD48641. Assignments must be completed by posted due date. Late assignments will not receive any credit. Click HERE for information on signing up for Mastering Biology.

Course Outline:
This is a survey course of biology covering the following topics:

1. Fundamentals & Building Blocks:

  • Science (process, observation, hypothesis, falsification, data, inference, theory)
  • Evolution (unifying theme in biology, unity, diversity, evidence, mechanisms)
  • Natural selection (process, individual variation, inheritance, fitness, adaptations)
  • Phylogenies (common descent, clades, homology, analogy)
  • Chemistry (atoms, elements, molecules, charge, polarity, bonding)
  • Molecules (water, carbon-based, functional groups, carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, nucleotides)
  • Polymerization (polysaccharides, polypeptides, polynucleotides, microtubules)

2. Cells & How They Work:

  • Structure (nucleus, prokaryotes/eukaryotes, animals/plants, organelles, cytoskeleton, junctions, cell cycle, mitosis, cytokinesis)
  • Function (membranes, gradients, passive & active transport, signaling)
  • Processes (exergonic/endergonic reactions, enzymes, redox reactions, glycolysis, aerobic respiration, fermentation, photosynthesis)

3. Reproduction & Transfer of Information:

  • Sex (ploidy, meiosis, fertilization, independent assortment, recombination, sex determination)
  • Genetics (genotype/phenotype, Mendel's laws, crosses, linkage)
  • DNA (chromosome structure, DNA structure & replication, mutations)
  • Gene expression (transcription, modification, translation)
  • Mutation (point, reading frame, synonymous/nonsynonymous)

4. Change & Context:

  • Evolutionary processes (populations, selection, migration, mutation, drift)
  • Speciation (species concepts, pre/post-zygotic isolation, allopatric, sympatric)
  • Populations (climate & biomes, density-dependence/independence)
  • Communities (interspecific interactions, trophic structure, diversity)
  • Ecosystems (energy flux, nutrient cycling)

Tentative Lecture Outline by Topic (Chapter) and Exam Dates:

  • Introduction (1)
  • Evolution (19-20)
  • Atoms & Molecules (2-3)

Exam 1 (September 25)

  • Cells & Cellular Functions (4-6)
  • Respiration & Photosynthesis (7-8)

Exam 2 (October 25)

  • Mitosis & The Cell Cycle (9)
  • Sex: Meiosis & Fertilization (10)
  • Genetics (11-14)

Exam 3 (November 20)

  • Populations & Species (21-22)
  • Ecology (40-42)

Final Exam (December 13*)

*The Final Exam for BIO 110-01 (MW 10:00-10:50) is Wednesday, December 13 at 10:30-12:00.
*The Final Exam for BIO 110-02 (MW 12:00-12:50) is Wednesday, December 13 at 1:00-2:30.

Tentative Laboratory Schedule:

  • August 28 - September 1: Lab 1: The Scientific Method & Common Descent
  • September 11 - 15: Lab 2: Data Analysis & Interpretation
  • September 18 - 22: Lab 3: Organic Molecules
  • September 25 - 29: Lab 4: Cells & Microscopy
  • October 2 - 6: Lab 5: Membranes & Diffusion

Lab Exam 1 (October 16 - 20)

  • October 23 - 27: Lab 6: Cell Cycle & Division
  • October 30 - November 3: Lab 7: Genotypes & Phenotypes
  • November 6 - 10: Lab 8: Molecular Genetics
  • November 13 - 17: Lab 9: Population Genetics
  • November 27 - December 1: Lab 10: Population Ecology

Lab Exam 2 (December 4 - 8)

Statements common to all WCU syllabi

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