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.
(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: Michael D. Delong

















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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  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                   

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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:

bullethands-on experience with a number of field methodologies, bulletopportunities to employ scientific investigation for addressing specific questions, bulletbackground in theoretical and applied aspects of large river ecosystems bulletdetailed use of investigative methodologies and analysis, bulletand application of scientific writing as a means of disseminating investigative findings.

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.

Course Syllabus Link for BIOL 415 (Ecology of Large Rivers)

Note: The syllabus outcome grids will be included as part of the syllabus in future offerings of this course

Syllabus – Outcome Grids




Practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields

Understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields

Adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields

Make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields

Learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage and documentation in their fields







Laboratory Exercises






Exams and Lecture Assignments






Major Writing Assignment (full report)







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 ( and to one of the major criteria I use for evaluating their reports, the "21 Suggestions for Good Scientific Writing" ( 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.