Approved by Faculty Senate.

University Studies Course Approval

Department or Program: Biology

Course Number: BIOL 308

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Cell Biology

Student Information: Course Syllabus

Catalog Description: Cell Biology 3 S.H. A study of the cell as a biological unit. Analysis of ultrastructure, macromolecular organization and function of cell components in plants and animals is emphasized. Lecture only. Prerequisites: Biol 241, Biol 242, Biol 312 and Chem 340. Offered yearly.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2: Yes

This is a new course proposal: No.
(If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)

Department contact Person for this course: Steven P. Berg


A2C2 requires 55 copies of the proposal

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The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in (select one area only):

Course Requirements:

A. Basic Skills:
     1. College Reading and Writing ____
     2. Oral Communication ____
     3. Mathematics ____
     4. Physical Development and Wellness ____

B. Arts & Sciences Core:
     1. Humanities ____
     2. Natural Sciences ____
     3. Social Science ____
     4. Fine & Performing Arts ____
C. Unity and Diversity:
     1. Critical Analysis ____
     2. Science and Social Policy ____
     3.a. Global Perspectives ____
        b. Multicultural Perspectives ____
     4.a. Contemporary Citizenship ____
        b. Democratic Institutions ____
D. Flagged Courses
     1. Writing    X  
     2. Oral ____
     3.a. Mathematics/Statistics ____
        b. Critical analysis ____
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Approval/Disapproval Recommendations

Department Recommendation:  Approved _____         Disapproved _____      Date ___________

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                   

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Material Submitted for Course Approval

Overview of BIOL 308 Cell Biology: BIOL 308 is designed to help second year biology majors develop their background in biology at a cellular and molecular level. This course serves as one of several foundation courses and is a prerequisite for many other courses in the biology department. Normally students take Biology 308 during their second year in the biology program. Virtually all of the students taking Biology 308 have already taken English 111. The writing component in Cell Biology is an important part of the class. The hourly exams have an essay component and to get maximum credit, students must write at a high level. This writing is not completely extemporaneous. I give the students all of the possible essay exam questions covering the breadth of what they need to learn well before the test with the expectation that students will carefully prepare outstanding answers to every question. The actual exam writing is from memory. Although my expectations are not always met, the student writing levels on Cell Biology exams tends to be far higher than when I employ other kinds of essay exams. Cell Biology also requires a term paper. Each student is required to have two other students carefully edit and scrutinize the manuscripts prior to the writing of the final drafts. To help with the editorial process I have posted an editors worksheet and some tips for better scientific writing.

Outcomes Grid

Essay Exams X X X   X
Term Paper X X X X X
Student Editing X X X   X

1. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields.

This requirement will be directly addressed as students write essay exams and a formal term paper in cell biology. Scientific writing emphasizes clarity of expression, precise use of words, succinct communication and logical, linear development of ideas. Students learn to express themselves more clearly, to use words more precisely, to be succinct in their expression and to develop their ideas in a linear, logical argument through writing, editing and rewriting their manuscripts. The editing and rewriting is critically important because it draws repeated attention to details of English usage and logical development of ideas. It is through the repeated close scrutiny of their own manuscripts along with those of other students that students have a significant chance to practice better writing and better thinking. The instructor of Cell Biology 308 is committed to having students write well because good writing can be strong evidence of good thinking and poor writing is often a manifestation of fuzzy thinking.


2. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields.

This outcome is addressed in the essay exam questions and the term paper associated with Cell Biology 308. Students are required to write in appropriate scientific style as they answer questions and as they write their term papers. Appropriate scientific style is manifest in the requirements listed on the editorial worksheet and in the ancillary text for the course A Short Guide to Writing About Biology, 2nd Edition, by Jan A. Pechenik.


3. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields.

This outcome is one of the features enumerated in my editing worksheet, the ancillary text and in the suggestions for good science writing that are provided to all students. Students write, edit and rewrite with these requirements in mind.


4. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields.

This requirement is satisfied with the course term paper. This is a research paper and students must find and acquire appropriate higher level sources using available technology and then use the resource materials to extend their knowledge and understanding of topic beyond that presented in their course textbook. Web sources are specifically excluded from being appropriate higher level sources. Ideally, students find recent monographs or journal articles using appropriate search engines and then use these materials for independent learning. Students use their computers to write, edit, transfer and print their manuscripts.


5. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.

This requirement is met with the written essay exams and the formal term paper required of all students in Cell Biology. The term paper in particular must be written in appropriate scientific style. The editing worksheet and the writing suggestions are designed to help students learn to write in a scientific style.