Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval

Department or Program: Biology

Course Number: BIOL 241

Number of Credits: 4

Course Title: Principles of Biology I

Catalog Description: Principles of Biology 241-3 S.H. First of a two course sequence intended for biology majors. Introduces the basic life processes at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organismal levels. Lecture and Laboratory.

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

horizontal rule

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 ____
horizontal rule

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                   

horizontal rule

Material Submitted for Course Approval

Overview of BIOL 241 Principles of Biology I: BIOL 241 Principles of Biology I is designed to the meet the needs of several populations of students. First, 241 satisfies the needs of biology majors in all of the various options by providing one of two courses which together cover the breadth of biology at a level appropriate for first year college students with strong backgrounds in high school chemistry, biology and mathematics. Second, the course meets the needs of education majors who will someday be certified to teach science classes at the K through 12 levels. Third, the course meets the needs of highly motivated and well prepared students desiring to satisfy their Natural Science Core requirement.

Principles of Biology 241 begins by examining and introducing some of the common themes in biology. These themes include: bulletscience as a way of knowing and learning, bullethierarchial levels, bulletemergent properties, bulletproperties unique to life, bulletheritable information, bulletstructure/function relationships, bullet"open" organisms which must interact with their environment, organismal regulation, bulletthe unity and diversity of life, bulletand most importantly, evolution.

Principles 241 emphasizes the themes highlighted red. Principles of Biology 242 emphasizes some of these same themes from different perspectives as well as the other themes. In Principles I, the major emphases are placed on the process of science, a molecular understanding of the life process and on evolution. Emphasis is placed on the process of science because it is the process that not only provides new information to the discipline but it is the process that also provides a perspective for understanding and appreciating life in a predictable way. Evolution is emphasized because it provides the only known way of simultaneously explaining both the vast diversity of life on earth as well as the incredible unity of all living things.

Next, there is a brief review and overview of some of the introductory chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry needed to appreciate and understand the biology coming later. Most of the students in 241 have already been exposed to much of what is covered in this review during there high school experiences, but they are usually "rusty" and the without the review they quickly flounder.

Much of the rest of the course focuses on the "Unity of Life" as it relates to common ways in which all living organisms deal with their most fundamental problems. Great emphasis is placed on the cell, the lowest level of biological organization which has all of the properties necessary for life. Membranes are studied because they are responsible for maintaining the required state of reduced entropy necessary for the life process. Respiration and photosynthesis are studied because these two fundamental processes are needed for the energy metabolism required for all life. Heritable information is studied from the perspective of the cell (mitosis and chromosomes), sexually reproducing organisms (meiosis and Mendelian genetics) and the various molecules related to DNA (molecular genetics).

Finally, at the end of the course, students have the background to really begin to understand evolution in molecular, organismal and population terms. They can see and appreciate the elegance, simplicity and beauty of natural selection as it relates to molecules, organisms, species and populations.

Principles of Biology 241 has a required laboratory component. Two of major foci of the laboratory are: A) to practice the process of science and B) to have "hands on" experiences with biological materials and the tools of biologists in ways that reinforce robust learning and concept development.

Course Syllabus Link for BIOL 241 Principles of Biology I

Syllabus - Outcomes Grid

Topics: Outcomes
Lectures X X X X X X X
Laboratories X X X X X X X
Assignments X X X X X X X
The Forum X     X   X X
Formative Assessments X   X X     X
1. Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:
understand how scientists approach and solve problems in the natural sciences.

This is one of the major foci of this course. Virtually everything that is done in this class is presented and perceived through the window of the scientific method. I will make no attempt to describe every instance or even every major instance where the scientific method is employed. Rather I will describe a couple of key examples which illustrate how the scientific method is used in Principles of Biology I. We begin in the introductory lecture by reviewing the formal process of science. We reinforce the process of science in many of the formal laboratories in Principles of Biology 241. For instance, in lab on enzymes, students must identify the scientific question, develop and write a formal hypothesis, develop and write a formal prediction and then test their hypothesis via the prediction by performing an experiment. The students then evaluate their data and determine whether or not their hypothesis has been supported or not supported. Similar types of activities are found in the other aspects 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. We talk about and describe the scientific method in lecture. Examples are given and students have a good opportunity to acquire a basic understanding of science. But, it is primarily in the laboratory part of the course where students repeatedly use the scientific method to acquire scientific information. I have already refered to the enzyme lab under Outcome 1 above. But we employ the same basic techniques (development of hypotheses, predictions, experiments, data, conclusions) in the diffusion and osmosis lab, the Mendelian genetics lab, the photosynthesis lab and the Hardy-Weinberg lab.



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 in this biology course. For instance, a glance at the lecture on metabolism clearly indicates that we treat topics like enthalpy, entropy and free energy using the appropriate formalisms. When students analyze their data in the Mendelian genetics lab they must use Chi-square to analyze and appreciate their data. In the lectures on population genetics and the Hardy-Weinberg lab, students also use a probability based theorem (Hardy-Weinberg Theorem) expressed a mathematical formula to calculate expected frequencies of alleles and genotypes in populations. Students again use Chi-square to analyze the data which they collect.



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

Each student in the class is egaged in independent learning. In the final analysis, learning is an event that occurs in the brain of individual students. In Principles of Biology 241 I document that learning has occurred by giving a short pre-course and post-course assessment that measures "value added" learning. Students are able to correctly answer less that 20% of the questions on the pre-course test but are able to correctly answer more than 85% of the answers on the post-course assessment. Independent learning has occured. In the labs we usually break into convenient sized groups of 2, 3 or 4 students to actually do the various exercises. Students are encouraged to solve their problems and answer their questions in their groups if at all possible. The Forum provides a could opportunity for shy or retiring students to be able to ask questions and participate in a "virtual group" without the fear of embarassment which sometimes limits interaction with some students.



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.

In the downloading lab students download Chime, NIH Image and RasMol into their laptops. The Chime is used also daily in the lecture and presumably as student study from the online notes. Once downloaded, students use NIH Image in the image analysis lab to make measurements and do analyses of photographs, light micrographs and electron micrographs. Students use their web browers to find x-ray crystal data for proteins on the web and then use RasMol in the RasMol lab to independently study protein structure using the protein data bank files. All of the software refered to above is indicative of the kind of software that scientists use to find and use scientific information in the form of images or x-ray crystal data.



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

This is done specifically in the term paper associated with this course. For fall 2000 this paper is optional for students desiring some extra credit. Beginning with the fall 2001 semester, the term paper will be a required component of Biology 241.



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. Many of the formative assessments which I have posted for student use are specifically designed to do this. Students are given 100s of questions on a variety of topics and can choose one of several answers. Correct answers are rewarded with praise and additional supporting information. Incorrect answers trigger rejoinders which are intended to help the student understand why the selected answer is wrong or less correct than another answer. Students who use the formative assessments should be able to identify their misconceptions (they won't be as able to correctly answer questions) and to find initial remedy in short rejoinder which points them toward more complete treatment in the lecture or in the text. Questions asked in class offer similar opportunities for the identification and correction of misconceptions. The Forum provides yet another opportunity for the identification and correction of misconceptions. The Forum is particularly useful because it provides students a written answer of longer duration than the verbal response during lecture. Further, the Forum is anonymous and there is less fear of being identified as someone asking a dumb question.