Approved by Faculty Senate.
University Studies Course Approval
Department or Program: Biology
Course Number: BIOL 415
Number of Credits: 4
Course Title: Ecology of Large Rivers
Catalog Description: Ecology of Large Rivers BIOL 415 - 4 S.H. Examination of the geological, chemical and biological charactersitics of large river ecosystems. Includes review of several river systems with comparisons to the Upper Mississippi River. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisites: BIOL 308, 310, and 312 or instructor's permission. Offered alternate years.
This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2: Yes
This is a new course proposal: No.
Department contact Person for this course: Michael D. Delong
The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in (select one area only):
Department Recommendation: Approved Disapproved _____ Date 14 Sep 2001
Dean's Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date
USS Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date
A2C2 Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date
Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date
Academic Vice President's Recommendation: Approved Disapproved Date
President's Decision: Approved Disapproved Date
Material Submitted for Course Approval
Overview of BIO 415 Ecology of Large Rivers: This course is designed as a field-based course that provides students with:
BIOL 415 takes an ecosystem approach in examining the dynamics of large rivers. Each topic for the lecture is a component of the ecosystem. These are examined individually, then synthesized progressively throughout the progression of the course. Final synthesis is achieved in the latter stages of the course when theoretical aspects of large river ecosystems is discussed as well as discussion of how these various components are applied in the management of large rivers. Synthesis is best seen in the lecture through the scope and nature of the short answer/essay exams. Rather than relying in simple regurgitation of facts, the exams are designed to get students to use the information in a conceptual context that requires formulation of an approach or answer.
While lectures provide the conceptual backdrop, laboratories provide the hands-on experience and the application of investigative tools. Laboratories require the use of specific tools and techniques for the collection of data, proper field and computer recording of the data in a useable and understandable format, summary and comparison of data through statistical analysis, and the dissemination of their findings in figures, tables, and a written narrative.
Note: The syllabus outcome grids will be included as part of the syllabus in future offerings of this course
How does this course satisfy the "Writing Flag" requirements?
Ecology of Large Rivers (BIOL 415) is a writing-intensive course. The lecture exams require students to provide and clear, concise and defendable position for the question posed. More importantly, however, is the writing component for the laboratory. After students have collected, summarized and analyzed their data, they are required to write a section appropriate for the "Results" section of a scientific paper and a brief "Discussion" section that includes their conclusions (interpretation of the their findings) and support for their conclusions from the scientific literature. They write a total of eight laboratory reports. In addition, students are required to select one of the lab assignments and write a full research paper (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) that includes supporting references from peer-reviewed scientific journals.
I view presentation of scientific investigations in the proper format a critical component of this course and it is for this reason it is weighted so heavily. Time is spent in lecture describing the expectations of these reports. Reference is made in class and on the course web site about links that describe the structure of research papers (http://bio.winona.edu/delong/Principles/aid_for_scientific_writing.htm) and to one of the major criteria I use for evaluating their reports, the "21 Suggestions for Good Scientific Writing" (http://bio.winona.edu/delong/ EcoLab/21%20Suggestions.html). Considerable time is also spent on the use of various analytical tools, especially Excel and JMPIN.
Writing assignments are edited in detail, noting grammatical errors, but focusing on shortcomings relevant to the presentation of scientific investigations. As the semester progresses, part of the evaluation criteria includes improvements they have made in writing their reports beyond earlier reports. In addition, students are given the opportunity on the first two reports to rewrite each report using my comments. This is also done with the full research paper. Students are informed before the third report that they will not get rewrite opportunities and must use comments on earlier reports to improve their writing (I also meet with students individually later in the semester if the same errors persist). I do not inform them that they get a chance to rewrite the full research paper. I prefer they think it is the only chance they will get so they will put more effort into the initial effort. I do give bonuses for having the full research paper reviewed and as serving as a reviewer if the reviewer does a good job of finding mistakes relating to the "21 Suggestions" and note sentences/paragraphs that are not clear.