Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Department or Program: Biology

Course Number: BIOL 118

Number of Credits: 4

Course Title: General Biology

Catalog Description: An introductory course that promotes critical thinking about the process of studying living organisms. Students are exposed to a sampling of major living groups while utilizing the scientific method. Lecture and laboratory. Grade only. Offered each semester.

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: Kimberly M. Bates


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):


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    X  
     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 ____
     2. Oral ____
     3.a. Mathematics/Statistics ____
        b. Critical analysis ____
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Approval/Disapproval Recommendations

Department Recommendation:  Approved   Yes           Disapproved _____       Date 22 Sept 2000

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 118 General Biology.   BIOL 118 General Biology has several purposes.  First, it satisfies the needs of students with respect to the University Studies Program goals while providing enough information for education students who will someday be certified to teach K-12 students and who will need a rudimentary understanding of science. Second, it provides biological information for pre-nursing students who need a basic understanding of science in their subsequent classes. It is also a valuable course for pre-law students who are interested in knowing the parts and functions of the human body as well as simple DNA analysis interpretations. Thirdly, the course meets the needs of any student interested in the scientific process.

This course begins with a definition of biology and the scientific process. The scientific process is incorporated throughout the entire course and is the theme by which students can judge "good science" versus pseudo-science. The first week of class is devoted to defining biology, the scientific process, macro and microevolution and natural selection.

Next, the course proceeds to identify and understand the basic cell structure. Understanding the cell and how it works helps students visualize "where" in the cell certain processes are occurring. After cell structure, students are introduced to the cellular processes of metabolism, photosynthesis, and respiration. These topics are studied to reinforce the fact that energy metabolism is required for all life. DNA is the next topic and is taught as four distinct subjects. First, we discuss chromosomes and how they can be "cloned" to form new cells or be separated into gametes in order to reproduce (mitosis and meiosis). DNA is further studied using Mendelian genetics to teach students about how they inherit certain traits. Thirdly, students learn about the processes of replication, transcription and translation and how DNA "codes" for every protein in their body. Lastly, students gain a knowledge of genetic engineering and how it relates today in our society.

The next half of the course if devoted to "organismal" biology. Students learn about macro and microevolution and Natural Selection which leads to Speciation. Then students are introduced to the great "Diversity of Life" by looking at the different Kingdoms that inhabit our world. Each Kingdom is discussed and numerous examples are given that stress the incredible diversity of organisms, even among one Kingdom. Finally, the students are able to use their knowledge of biology to understand concepts as it relates to populations (population ecology).

General Biology 118 has a required laboratory component. The major foci of the laboratory are to A) reinforce scientific information learned in lecture B) to practice the process of science and C) to allow students to have "hands on" experiences with biological materials and concepts.

Course Syllabus Link for BIOL 118 General Biology

Syllabus - Outcomes Grid




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1. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences.

This is the foundation of which the course is taught.  Students are taught "scientific method" on the first day of class, and this method is reinforced throughout the course.  The first laboratory is designed so that students develop their own research projects in which all the steps of the scientific method are included.   In subsequent laboratories, the scientific method is reinforced by asking students to develop a hypothesis and testing to determine if they can accept or reject that hypothesis.  Students have a very firm grasp of how scientists approach and solve problems by the end of this course.


2. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
apply those methods to solve problems that arise in the natural sciences.

This outcome was addressed in the previous question.  In-class assignments and laboratories are where students repeatedly apply the methods discussed in class.   Most laboratories employ the basic techniques (development of a hypothesis, predictions, experiment, data, and conclusions) of scientific method, thereby applying and reinforcing this concept weekly.  In addition, required readings and lectures provide methods and examples of how scientists  view the world and how they have applied the methods of science to solve problems.  


3. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
use inductive reasoning, mathematics, or statistics to solve problems in natural science.

Students certainly use mathematics, statistics, and inductive reasoning in this biology course.   Topics such as entropy and free energy are presented with the appropriate formulas.   Mendelian genetics requires students to determine the probability of genetic traits being passed to future generations and they use Chi-square analysis to analyze and appreciate their data.  Population genetics requires students to use and understand the Hardy-Weinberg Theorem (which gets reinforced in a population genetics laboratory).  


4. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
engage in independent and collaborative learning.

Certainly, performing the required readings and attentively attending lectures promotes students' abilities to engage in independent and collaborative learning.  Students are often asked to form groups in lecture, and these groups are asked to solve a problem.  Laboratory assignments are also completed in groups, with some of the quizzes answered by the entire group, and others by individuals.  Student evaluations have indicated that group activities both in lecture and laboratory are highly beneficial.  In the past there has been a bulletin board where the students could post questions and answers to one another.  It was not very successful.  However, this bulletin board was posted before freshman were required to own laptops.  I believe that this forum may foster collaborative learning in the future.


5. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
identify, find, and use the tools of information science as it relates to natural science.

Students are asked to find current biological news to share with the class.  We start each class with a brief discussion of what is happening in the scientific community.  Most students use the world wide web to find their information.  Also, I announce topics that we are going to discuss in class and ask the students to find out all the information they can on that subject to discuss in the next class.  Students are very good at finding informational web sites to help them understand complex topics.  In addition, I have one laboratoy where the students must log on to a scientific web site and simulate population genetics.  They analyze and interpret the data from the computer.   


6. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information.

This is done mostly in lecture.  Students are asked to read and evaluate current events of the biological nature and to share this information in class.  If the topic is controversial, I allow students to give their point of view on the subject.  I always ask the source of information and let the class decide if that source was from an "expert in the field" or someone with a competing interest. Topics such as "cloning" and "genetic engineering" provide excellent examples where source and content can affect public perception.


7. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to
recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.

All of the activities in this course should help students recognize and then correct their scientific misconceptions.   Most students come into this course with misconceptions due to partial of incomplete information obtained from numerous sources.  For example, most students believe that cloning takes place entirely in a Petri dish and have no idea of the complex process required to clone a viable mammal.    Hopefully the use of required readings, lectures, preparation for group activities, group activities, class room discussion, laboratories and preparation for examinations - promote students' abilities to recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.  Use of a web Bulletin Board provides yet another opportunity for the identification and correction of misconceptions.   This is useful because it provides students a format that can provide written answers that may be more "in-depth" than the verbal response during a lecture.   Furthermore, the Bulletin Board is anonymous and there is less fear of someone asking an easy question.