Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Department or Program: Biology
Course Number: BIOL 117
Number of Credits: 3
Course Title: Human Biology

Catalog Description: An introductory study of the anatomy, physiology, development and heredity of the human for students who are not majoring in biology. Lecture only. 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: Lawrence A. Reuter


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    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   Yes           Disapproved           Date 31 Oct 2000                 

USS Recommendation:  Approved   Yes           Disapproved           Date 29 Nov 2000

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 117 Human Biology

BIOL 117 Human Biology has several purposes.  The intent is to simultaneously satisfy the needs of students with respect to the University Studies Program goals while yet providing enough anatomical and physiological detail for pre-law students who are interested in knowing the parts and functions of the human body, and for psychology majors and social work students who desire a better than average background in the disease and aging and social correlates of human biology.  In addition, most everyone is interested in obtaining a knowledge of  the structure of the human body and how the human body works and what goes wrong and gives rise to disease.  Thus, these aspects are provided central focus in this course.

The course begins with a definition of human biology and a consideration of what it means to be human, how humans think, why humans think, and how all this is related to science and art.  Approximately the first week is used to cover the concepts science, social science, natural science, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, "the scientific method", and other methods used for science.    These topics remain throughout the course by a review of the history of how we cam to know different aspects of anatomy and physiology.  However, the later parts of the course also convey specific knowledge about the parts or the human body and the functions of these parts.  This course not only presents a body of knowledge, but it also includes discussion and methods of how new knowledge is added to the existing body of knowledge.

This course is taught with an enrollment of up to 180 students in a large auditorium, such as ST103 or PA201.  Usually the course enrollment has been about 110 to 130 during the past few years.  In order to keep students focused and on task, tests are given every second week.  Tests involve both subjective multiple choice, critical analysis multiple choice and short answer essay questions.  Because tests are more often than most of my courses, and because this frequency could reduce the amount of time available for discussion and presentation of subject mater, the tests are limited to half of class period.  The shortened test provides the addition benefit of my being able to grade all tests and return them at the ensuing lecture period.  On weeks alternating with test, students have assigned group activities for half of the class period.  Each group has five to eight members, depending on class size, and each group selects group leader, a group recorder, and a group presenter.

During the first week groups are left to form freely.  After the first test, individual are assigned to groups in a way which insures that each group will have members from all parts of the class grade spectrum.  This is done with the belief that good students need to know how to deal with the limitations of others, and that other students can learn from the successful approaches of others.  Thus, the groups are regulated: individual work is written in advance and shared with each other member of the group before discussion begins.  Group discussion is regulated by the group leader, who ensures that each member has chances to speak, while the others listen.    Members are allowed to change their written contributions to correct for mistakes before presenting the written work to the instructor for grading.  The roles of group leader, group recorder, and group presenter are recast every two weeks - to those who have not yet performed such a role.

In course evaluations, students have indicated that they feel the group activities are very valuable.  Some group activities involve outside investigative work.  Some group activities involve ethical issues.  Some group activities are straight forward.  Students learn from one another in their discussions.    Students learn that it is much harder to listen closely to others than to speak within a group.  I do not grade students on their performance within the group setting.  However, if a group reporter (or proxy) does not report when called upon, the entire group loses points!  The larger class setting is a rare opportunity for students to introduce themselves to a large group, to learn new skills for large groups and to gain practice speaking to a larger group in an auditorium without fear of grade reprisal..  In addition, they learn human biology.

Course Syllabus Link for BIOL 117 Human Biology

Syllabus - Outcomes Grid

Topics: Outcomes





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Introduction to course X            
"The Scientific Method" X X X X X X X
Introduction Human Organization X           X
Cells, Tissues, Organs X X X     X X
Processing & Transport: Digestion X     X   X X
Processing & Transport: Blood X X X     X X
Processing & Transport: Circulation X         X X
Processing & Transport: Immunity X X X X X X X
Processing & Transport: Respiration X         X X
Processing & Transport: Excretion X X X     X X
Integration: Musculoskeletal System X         X X
Integration: Nervous System X X X     X X
Integration: Senses X     X X X X
Integration: Hormones X X X     X X
Reproduction: Organization X         X X
Reproduction: Diseases X X X X X X X
Reproduction: Development X         X X
Human Genetics: Inheritance X X X     X X
Human Genetics: Diseases X     X X X X
Human Evolution X X X     X X
Ecosystem and Population X         X X


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

Initially, students learn the history of science and the thought process of science from their required  readings and by attending lectures.  They are then forced to abstract and project their learning.  This is especially done through group activities and discussion of group activities.  For example,  the first group activity requires each student to independently demonstrate that they know "the scientific method" by writing an outline of a problem which is solved by "the scientific method" and giving a coordinated example for each part of "the scientific method".   Next, the independent examples are exchanged with each other member of an in class group and critically read by each other.  Oral critique and discussion within the group follows.  Students are allowed to amend and emend their original writings to reflect new understandings (which are turned in to the instructor at the end of the class period and graded by the next class period).  Each class group also shares its best example of "the scientific method" to the rest of the class, where the instructor and the rest of the class critiques and validates the example.  Perhaps the most learning occurs in this group activity when mistakes are made,  discovered, and then corrected.  This often happens when students present an example that lacks an adequate control, or chooses and example which tries to measure "best" or an example which  otherwise does not map to "the scientific method".


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

Required readings and lectures provide methods and examples of how scientists have view the world and how they have applied the methods of science to solve problems.  Perhaps the greatest application of science to solve problems comes when students prepare written answers to questions posed for groups activities.  For example, one group of students are asked to answer "Imagine that you are a bacterial parasite. What must you do to invade a human body?", and a cognate group of students are asked to answer "Imagine that you are the immune system of a human body.  What must you do to protect yourself from a bacterial parasite?".   The two groups are brought into class room discussion at the same time in a debate style presentation, and the rest of the class is asked to evaluate whether the bacteria group or the immune group "won".   Principles of how we protect ourselves from parasites are solidified and it becomes abundantly clear that often parasites "win", espe


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

Required readings, lectures, group activities, class room discussion, and examinations apply as in the answer to question 2, above.  However, the most relevant group activity is that of the two-point discrimination which is explained at "".    After measuring and collecting their data during a class room group activity, students enter their data into an anonymous class data bank using a WWW form.  From here, students are able to download all the class data from the completed class WWW data bank, import the data into an Excel spreadsheet, sort their data appropriately, and perform elementary statistics and data analysis.  The results of their analysis is then presented in class and compared to the analysis completed in class as a demonstration by the instructor.  (Currently, many students without computers are WOWed when they see how fast and simple it is to use Excel to answer a question!)


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.  However, the most important part of the course for this goal is fostered by the independent preparation for group activities and the collaborative learning stimulated by the group activities.  Also, independent and collaborative learning is stimulated by my making prior tests available on the web for study purposes, and too, independent and collaborative learning is stimulated when I reveal "promised" questions that will be on the next examination.  (This I know from answering questions of the class in review sessions, before examinations.)


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.

For the beginning part of this course, which focuses on the methods of science, I find virtually all introductory human biology text book to be inadequate.  Thus, I supplement and provide information from other sources for lecture.  In addition, students are encouraged to read about the methods of science from other sources, especially the relevant parts of their social science texts and mathematics texts, to gain a perspective of how similar the different disciplines cover the same subject matter.  Proper prior preparation for some of our class group activities requires that students go beyond the text.  For example, see the group activities on renal related diseases, which requires that students search for additional information on symptoms of renal-related diseases and how the kidney is involved in these diseases.  However, most of the new knowledge for this course is contained in the text book.


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

All parts of the course - required readings, lectures, preparation for group activities, group activities, class room discussion, and preparation for examinations - promote students' abilities to critically evaluate both source and content of scientific information.   The most relevant part of the course for activity involves students writing independently in preparation for group activities and students partaking in the ensuing class room discussion.  Also, examples of bad scientific reasoning, often from tabloids and newspapers, and sometimes from weekly news journals are brought to the attention of the class for discussion when the topics are relevant the subject matter of the course unit.


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

All parts of the course - required readings, lectures, preparation for group activities, group activities, class room discussion, and preparation for examinations - promote students' abilities to recognize and correct scientific misconceptions.  The most relevant parts of the course in which the instructor becomes aware of students' misconceptions is during discussion, the correcting of group assignment homework and, of course, the evaluation of examinations.  These problems with misconceptions are then discussed at the beginning of classes during our open question, review, and review of examination sessions.   Certain topics always bring forth misconceptions.  For example, the ideas of evolution, development, creation, that bone is living, that the mind is closely related to the function of the brain, etc., etc.  Although these misconceptions are addressed in the text reading and again in lecture, I find that often class questions and answers and discussion is a good way to address many of these misconceptions.  To promote freer discussion of deeply-seated, emotionally-charged misconceptions, next fall semester I plan to make use of an anonymous web discussion forum.