Approved by Faculty Senate February 9, 2004.
Posted January 20, 2004
Approved by University Studies Sub-committee.  A2C2 action pending.

University Studies Course Approval

Department or Program: Biology

Course Number: BIOL 323

Number of Credits: 5

Course Title: General Physiology

Student Information: Course Syllabus

Catalog Description: General Physiology 5 S.H.  Lectures, demonstrations and laboratory exercises are designed to provide the basis for understanding physiological mechanisms and the functional organization of body systems.  Topics may include muscle, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, digestive, endocrine, immune and reproductive systems.  Prerequisites: Biol 241, Biol 242, Biol 201 and Chem 208, 209 ir Chem 212, 213. 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: Frances R. Ragsdale


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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 323 General Physiology:  General Physiology is designed to help biology majors develop their understanding in human physiology by incorporating their knowledge of biology at a cellular and molecular level and applying it to the systemic level. This course serves as one of foundation courses for students in our Cell and Molecular and Allied Health options, especially as they progress towards a professional degree. Normally students take Biology 323 during their third year in the biology program, a time when they are preparing for their MCAT examination. Virtually all of the students taking Biology 323 have already taken English 111. The writing component in General Physiology 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 of proficiency. This writing is not completely extemporaneous. I provide students with examples 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 of a short outline. Although my expectations are not always met, the student writing levels on General Physiology exams tends to be far higher than when I employ other kinds of essay exams.

General Physiology also requires several lab reports throughout the course of the semester. Students work in small groups of about 3-4 members and conducting the experiment, analyzing the data, and writing the report.  I review the first lab report of the semester.  This allows students to see what I expect and to establish an example for reading the report critically.  After that Each Student is required have two other students, not from their lab group, 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


Requirement 1

Requirement 2

Requirement 3

Requirement 4

Requirement 5

Essay Exams






Lab Reports






Student Editing







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 formal lab reports in General Physiology. 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 General Physiology 323 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.



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 laboratory reports associated with General Physiology 323. Students are required to write in appropriate scientific style as they answer questions and as they write their laboratory reports. 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.



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.



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 laboratory reports. With each report 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 or their laboratory manual. 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.



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 laboratory reports required of all students in General Physiology. The laboratory reports 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.



[BIOL 323]  --  FALL 2003


Catalog Description:


“Lectures, demonstrations and laboratory exercises are designed to provide the basis for understanding physiological mechanisms and the functional organization of body systems.   Topics may include muscle, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, digestive, endocrine, immune, and reproductive systems.”

This is human physiology!



Instructor:  Dr. Frances R. Ragsdale

Office:   219 Pasteur

Text:  See discussion below.


Lecture Schedule:



6:00 – 8:00 pm Tuesday and Thursday


Lab Schedule:



2:00 – 4:50 pm Monday or Wednesday


Principles of Biology  (BIOL 241-242)

Human Anatomy  (BIOL 201)

General Chemistry or Principles of Chemistry

(CHEM 208-209)         (CHEM 212-213)


*Textbook selection: 

Lecture Books:

Human Physiology:  An Integrated Approach;(2nd ed); by: Silverthorn (2001)

Textbook of Medical Physiology; (10th ed); by Guyton and Hall (2000)

Human Physiology; (4th ed); by Rhoades and Pflanzer (2003)

Textbook of Biochemistry with Clinical Correlations; by Devlin (1997)


Supplemental Text:  A Handbook of Biological Investigations; by: Ambrose, et al.

Supplemental Text:  A Short Guide to Writing about Biology; by: Jan A. Pechenik (2nd Ed.)

Supplemental Lab Text:  Experiments in Physiology; by:   Tharp (8th Ed)



This course has been modified and approved to meet the University Studies Flag Requirements for Writing.  This means the following objectives for this program have been addressed in this course:

1.       Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their field.   This objective will be directly addressed as students write essays for exams and as students compose laboratory reports summarizing class data.

2.       Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to understand the main features and uses of writing in their field.  Again this will be addressed primarily in the laboratory reports such that students are required to write in an appropriate scientific style.

3.       Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their field.  This objective will be addressed as students review and rewrite their laboratory papers after two revisions by editors.  The first editorial critique will be by the professor.  The second critique will be by two of their peers.

4.       Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ activities to make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their field.  Students must find appropriate literature sources to support/refute their findings in the formal laboratory reports.  These documents will be discovered using available technology.

5.       Requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.  Again the formal laboratory reports that summarize their lab exercises address this objective.


Instructor’s Goal: 


My goal is to provide students with a challenging coverage of physiology; such that upon completion of the course, students will be able to ask questions about, and analyze, physiological states of the human body. 


To accomplish this goal, each student will need to go beyond memorization and begin to apply his/her knowledge and understanding about how bodies work with some common sense and problem-solving skills.  For some students, this is just refining problem-solving skills already acquired; but for others it may mean learning these skills form scratch.  In either case, there will be multiple opportunities for this during the course of the semester.  This course will be all that you make it to be.


Objectives for the Course:

bulletStudents will be able to describe data in graphical, numeric, verbal and written forms that explain various body functions.  Examples could include regulation of body temperature, monitoring blood pressure or reproductive states.  This means during the course of the semester a student will have to draw graphs that illustrate a biological event, prepare summary statistics or calculations that enhance or answer some biological question, write paragraphs discussing a body function or discuss a physiological event.  bulletStudents will be able to interpret diagrams, equations and graphical information concerning physiological processes and relate this information to the overall function of a particular body system.  The students will then be able to apply this understanding to the entire body.  For example, think about how blood flows through the heart and then throughout the body.  This means a student may be asked to write about a graph or illustration, recalculate an answer from an equation given a different set of parameters, or discuss what some scientific findings mean. bulletStudents will be able to list system characteristics not only in a written format, but through the development of flow diagrams that illustrate interdependencies of these characters as they relate to overall body function.  This means students will be asked to generate flow diagrams that illustrate interdependencies of body systems.  Blood coagulation cascade or learning all of the common pituitary hormones is an example of this.  bulletStudents will be able to infer causality of an abnormal situation based on their understanding and knowledge of how the system properly functions.  This means students will use their critical thinking skills to interpret where systems fail in disease states.  Students will be asked to answer questions about disease states based on their understanding of normal physiological states.  Juvenile diabetes is a common classroom example of this.  In this disease state the lack of insulin production or the paucity of insulin receptors on the target tissue may manifest systemically as the symptoms one sees with individuals with this disease. bulletStudents will be able to defend their conclusions about causality based on their knowledge of body anatomy, physical, chemical and physiological principles.  This may be done in discussion groups or in laboratory settings where students are asked their opinion and asked to support their ideas based on the information available to the class. One example would be to describe the surgery to reattach an arm severed in a shark attack (House, H. 2002).  bulletStudents will be able to review and incorporate current literature with lecture material and text writings and discuss current events from a scientific perspective.  Students may be asked to read additional information from current literature and discuss these findings with class.


Expectations of the students:


Personal Expectations:

1.                    Be respectful of yourself, your peers and your professor.

2.                    Be courteous.  Be aware that your actions in the classroom impact learning opportunities for others.  For example talking to your neighbor during class.  You may understand the information that is being covered and not need to pay attention, but are you convinced you know the same about the person sitting next to you?

3.                    Celebrate diversity of your group.  Discover some individual strengths in yourself and the people around you.  Learn about what they have to offer to the course and to your life.  Life experiences are great learning tools, share these with your friends.

4.                    Be prepared.  Read ahead and review lecture materials prior to class.  Just taking 15 min a day prior to class will save you hours of review the night before an exam.  And you will retain more of the information.  Never underestimate your instructor.  If she says learn all of the common hormones of the pituitary gland, be aware that is exactly what she means.

5.                    Be attentive.  Come to class ready to learn and share.  Be challenged.  Be open to self learning experiences and creating personal educational challenges.   Some of the best learning we do as humans comes directly off of curiosity.


Professional Expectations:

1.                    Attend all class and laboratory sessions.  Use each of these times to your best advantage.  Participate in science.

2.                    Participate in class discussion and review sessions.  Become your own director of learning.  Do not rely on grades or your professor for motivation.  If you can challenge yourself and set realistic goal, you can achieve anything.  Always take any guidance from the instructor to heart.  Push yourself to learning more.

3.                    Read your text and all assigned literature.  I cannot stress this enough.  READ, READ, READ!

4.                    Become familiar with the library and its resources, as well as internet journals and regional resources.

5.                    Keep accurate laboratory notes (you must have a lab notebook) and complete all write-ups on time.  You are expected to participate in any discussion pertaining to laboratory exercises, so be prepared even when it is material not covered in lecture.

6.                    Assess your class performance.   Are you achieving your educational goals?   If your performance is not what you expected, seek help early in the semester.  Come and talk to me.  Let us work out a solution.


I hope that physiology becomes fun to think about and learn.  Furthermore, I hope scientific inquiry becomes filled with an excitement simply based on discovery and knowledge acquired and that you personally will want to find out more about how the body works and why it works that way.





Physiology is about understanding bodily functions.  The entire collection of information we call physiology is based on years of scientific observation and experimentation in several of the sciences including chemistry and physics.  In this class we will be learning the rudimentary elements of this data-base.  The historical foundation of this science is with medicine and making people healthy – or at least attempting to do so -- and dates back well before the time of Christ.  Many early philosophers were unaware of organ function, instead relying on balancing body humors for health.  We have come a long way from the observational science of the early philosophers; we live in the age of mechanical hearts, stem cell research and cloning. 


Why do I call this course a rudimentary introduction to the science of physiology?   This course is a rudimentary course because much of what you will be learning will create a foundation that will be emphasized again and again in other courses that embrace additional biology topics as well as chemistry and physics; physiology is a melding of the sciences.  (A simple example is the physics of work and how it is applies to the muscloskeletal systems.)  In part we will be learning just the foundation of this science because it is an ever-growing science that must keep up with modern technologies and modern medicine.  Molecular biology has opened the door to a whole world of medical advances.  Completion of the human genome project has accelerated medical studies in the next few years yielding a plethora of new information about the causality of disease states and how to tailor drugs for the individual.  And now the world is looking to proteins.  Human Physiology is along for this whirlwind ride.  It is an exciting time for physiology.  But it is also a time when you will be asked to review/learn more facts, names and mechanisms for all of this escalating information.  As a student of physiology, you will be asked to integrate information about biochemical processes and physical laws that describe flow of energy or flow patterns for gases or fluids in the body.   You have at your fingertips all of the medical information that has accumulated over the past hundred of years.  So how do we cope with all of this information?  (I include myself in this statement because I am still learning the details of physiology.)   


Lecture Format:


This physiology course will be taught using a standard lecture format for the dissemination of material, but class discussions and exercises will also be included on a routine basis to emphasize overriding principles.  I fall back on this lecture format simply because it is a way to ensure that you, the student, will “see” most of what I consider to be the material upon which physiology is built.  Sometimes the lecture information will not directly cover the information in any one textbook.  You should not be disheartened by this practice.  I am simply trying to provide you with different perspectives concerning the topics being covered.  All I ask is that you always approach your learning with an open mind and by asking questions like “how did this response occur?” or “why did this response occur?”  I want you to then go beyond this point and think about how the system is controlled and how this system is integrated with other body systems.  I want you to go from memorization of facts to synthesis of information.


You are responsible for all information covered during lecture, so if you miss class be sure to check with a classmate for a summary of the materials covered.  (I am not responsible for catching you up on the information missed, but I am more than willing to address questions or discussions concerning the information covered.  I will help to clarify information in any way possible if you ask me.)  I encourage each and every one of you to meet with me during my office hours or by appointment.  I am here to help you learn and grow.


Discussions and in-class activities:

Part of becoming an informed consumer, a doctor or even a professional scientist requires that you set aside time to keep up on the news not only on current events that shape your life and loves, but also on your field of study or your career.  To accomplish this you must force yourself to do some outside reading/discovery.  Reading as few as 2 articles a week during the course of the semester will mean that you have read 30 articles by December.  Many of you may see this request as an impossibility – there is not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do.  That is where the sacrifice comes in.  You must set aside the time.  You may want to take a lunch hour or a few minutes prior to your first class of the day to catch up on what is happening in the world. 


In addition to reading articles, part of science is sharing these findings with your peers, discussing your findings and getting excited about biology and science. You need to talk about science.  You could try a dry run for a discussion utilizing the information you are gathering by discussing these events with your friends over supper.  (True biology students can gross out most other students especially those in different majors simply with wonderfully colorful dinner discussions.)  Then, on a weekly basis, I will pick a couple of students and ask them about their readings.  I consider this a crucial part of lecture because it ties in what is happening in our world with what is happening in the classroom.  So on Thursdays come prepared with a 3X5 card with your news information on it.  Be prepared to state an opinion on the information and be able to discuss if the information is true to the best of your knowledge.  You need to come prepared to defend your opinion.  If you are selected/volunteer, turn in your card.  Part of this information process will be extended to the final exam.  No topic related to science will be excluded.  (Europeans consider Americans to be unable to discuss topics intelligently.  I agree with this sentiment in part since our society seems to have put “taboos” on topics like politics and religion.  Dissent is anti-American or anti-religious.  Yet many of our scientific advances directly confronted religious doctrine at the time they were first proposed.)  I expect my opinions may not be shared by all of you, so come prepared to express your opinions and discuss events.


Sometimes the class will be divided into small groups (3 or 4 students) and asked to complete a quick (20 minute) coverage of a specific topic.  You may be asked to generate or interpret a graph, or draw a flow diagram.   Whatever the project is, you are responsible for participating in the group and you will receive roles for your participation in the group (leader, recorder, skeptic and explorer).  These exercises may or may not be graded.  If they are graded, each group member will receive the same score.


Additional discussions will be in the form of creating a disease/disorder journal.  Everyone is encouraged to keep a disease journal.  Once the introductory material has been presented, students will select a topic each week from popular press to include in their journal.  This means that by the end of the semester they will have a series of disease states written on in a broad fashion and small groups will form to address these situations and share this knowledge.   All of the disease states will be written in a personal manner such that you will receive a story line and then work from there to understand the science of this disorder and how it relates to the topic at hand.  However, summary information will be presented by the group.  The disease journal will be introduced in the first week of class.


Laboratory Exercises:

How is General Physiology Lab different from those of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology or Biochemistry?  Really, they are not that different except for their approach.  Gel electrophoresis, ELISA’s and numerous other cutting edge techniques are used all of the time to address physiological questions.  The big difference is that this is one of the few classes where organismal, systemic responses are addressed.  For example, in Molecular Biology one may discover that a mutation in a hemoglobin gene has occurred.  This will alter its biochemistry and at the cellular level will alter the protein’s oxygen affinity.  But what does that really mean to the organism?  Is the mutated hemoglobin in a cell in an organism always a bad thing? 


There are numerous laboratory manuals for the classical experiments in physiology.  We will have access to some of these resources and will be working with some of these traditional exercises.  But this is going to be a different type of lab compared to ones you have previously had.  We will not use a proper lab manual.  Throughout society, educators are repeatedly told to teach students “Critical Thinking Skills”.   So like all good professors, we design exercises that will lead you down a pre-determined path, like working through a maze, but with helpful directions at each turn.  This is great for some situations, but that is not quite how science works.  Instead we are typically confronted by a situation and asked to develop a solution.  You will be creating your own laboratory manual as you and a group of about three others design experiments to address specific questions about a given topic.


In this class you will begin to work on problem solving and developing experimental procedures that address questions, questions not completely generated by the professor, rather questions or statements that you the students want to address about a given topic.   Right now the laboratory exercises are divided into three larger components:  blood, muscle, and renal-heart.  You will create protocols and carry out experiments to address aspects of each of the three components.


You will keep a lab notebook where duplicates of the days work may be turned in at the end of the laboratory session.  The first lab session for each topic will begin with a brief introduction.  The introductory information may be directly out of your text (for example, the Blood Chapter is assigned readings for lab the first week), or may involve asking you to generate a series of questions from outside readings.  You should take notes directly into your lab book.  You may also want to keep track of outside references in your lab book as well.  The more information you have at your finger tips, the better prepared you are to address questions that might arise.


Then you will develop an experiment to try and address the question generated from the introduction.  You will be responsible for turning in a supply list at the end of class the day after your laboratory session.  And you need to be ready to go to work quickly the following week.


You are expected to utilize lab time to the best of your advantage.  Science rarely ends simply because the class period is over.  If you are in the middle of an experiment and the end of the class period has arrived and you need to leave, you must make arrangements with other members of your lab group to complete the exercise without you.  You are still responsible for the data that is collected and for completing the exercise.


Lab Write-ups:


Each lab write-up will include an introduction, methods, data and results, and discussion.  (You do not need to include a methods section unless you change the procedure that was outlined in the text.)  In the introduction you should review the anatomy of the system that is to be studied.  For example, if the exercise is covering skeletal muscle actions, you will want to go back to your text, and any additional materials, and discuss how muscles are organized.  You will want to start at the organ level and discuss connective tissue sheets and elastic components.   You will then move to the cellular level and discuss the shape of the cells, number of nuclei, and how energy reserves are stored.   Finally you should move to the molecular level and discuss the actin and myosin arrangement and how the sliding filament theory applies to skeletal muscle contraction.  The final portion of the introduction section should bring you back to the beginning where you examine the functions of the organ as they relate to all of the other information.  What is happening in tetanus?  What is threshold in a physiological sense?  Most of this introduction section should be completed prior to class or during the class as introductory information is presented, but you may want to leave some room just in case you discover that you are missing some vital piece of information that directly relates to questions that arise.  The end of the introduction should have a hypothesis or question that is being addressed.  Typically this is a statement about how you think a system will respond to a given set of circumstances.  You need to look at your entire introduction as a piece of background research leading you to that specific hypothesis.  The second section is the method section.  Enough of the procedures should be written down in cook book fashion so that an individual can repeat the experiment.  This may mean describing how a saline is made, what percentage of acrylamide a gel is composed of or how a machine was calibrates.  Again, it should be written in a step-by-step manner.  In the data and results section you will record all of your raw numbers.  This should include all numbers you collect and any calculations that you make.  You should also include summary information (any graphs or tables you make to clarify your findings).   This data/results section is actually the easiest part of any lab write-up.  Summarize your raw data into concise tables, charts, graphs whenever possible.  (You will not see raw data in published papers.)  Remember that data tables need titles and any additional information that helps explain what the numbers actually mean. You will want to include statistics whenever possible and practical.  The same advice that directed how tables were titled, goes for graphs too.  Include titles and a couple of sentences explaining the graphs.   Discuss what is significant and include a legend.  The final section of the lab write-up is the discussion.  This is where you really get to demonstrate how well you understand the organ system that is being examined.  Although the hardest section to write, this is where you go back to the information in the introduction and discuss functionality.  Why did the muscle respond the way it did?  Can you postulate limitations of the system based on your understanding of the anatomy of the system?  This is where you tell me what you have learned.  This can be a very short section or a very long section depending on your current state of understanding.


Grading Lab Reports:

For each of the three major subdivisions of lab, the groups will conduct a couple of exercises.  The first exercise will be written as just described and turned in on Sept. 22.  I will evaluate each report according to the criteria outlined on the review form provided.  This will provide each of you with a hard copy what a report should look like.  You will then be responsible for composing two or three final experimental reports, one comprehensive report for each of the major subdivisions.   These drafts will be due Dec. 1.  You will make each available in a folder in the lab.  Then over the course of the next 5 days, you will review two other reports from members of your class – each report can only have two additional reviews.  Take out a report that is available for review and make a copy of that report.  Sign your name to the original report – again, if two people have already reviewed the paper, you must select a different one.  Then using the editing worksheet, and employing a red pencil, review that report.  Give your reviewed paper to the author.  (It is the author’s responsibility to hand in not only the final report (Dec. 8, 2003), but also two reviewed copies with sheets.)  You will receive credit for your reviews.  Now the original author has his/her draft plus two independent reviews.  This allows the author to make editorial changes prior to the Dec. 8th deadline. 

As it stands now, each lab subdivision will be worth 50 points for a total of 150 at the end of the semester.


Time on Task:

The laboratory schedule is such that you may find that you are covering information not yet discussed in class.  This means you are expected to read ahead, ask questions, discuss procedures you are doing in terms of actual experimentation, and evaluate/postulate what type of results you will obtain.   You may want to go so far as to discuss what the information may mean.  As a group, take the first few minutes of each lab period to review and discuss this information.


Each lab session will begin with a discussion of information that we know about the subject.   We may do some diagramming and experimental design prior to the actual experimentation.  This should help us develop our scientific investigative skills.  You will need to keep a detailed notebook for all of the exercises.   You may even want to supplement your write-up with library references.  These are the classic physiology experiments.  You may feel that they are outdated, but in reality these are the experiments that have allowed many modern experiments (e.g., lactic acid thresholds for elite athletes) to take place.  This is one of the areas where comparative research has added to the bulk of information about how human bodies work.  And these experiments are still yielding research articles as new methods are developed and equipment is improved.


Exams and Grades:


Just to reiterate, you are responsible for all lecture material, laboratory information and assigned readings.  Some exercises or discussions may not be graded, but participation will be monitored. 


Hourly Exams:

Over the 15-week period there will be three lecture exams.  This averages out to an exam about every 3 weeks or so.  The exact schedule will be discussed in class, but a tentative schedule is posted on the time-table at the end of this syllabus.  Each exam will take approximately 50 minutes, and the exams will all have comprehensive questions on them.  The exams are designed to be similar to the MCAT format. There will be a brief discussion section and then a series of multiple choice and short answer (e.g., definitions) questions.   The brief discussion may include a graph or drawing.  Each exam will be worth 100 points.  Makeup exams are not given.  If you have an excused absence and miss an exam, you will double the score of the next exam.


With three hourly exams, the total number of points available is 300.


Grading Hourly Exams:

The point distribution for the exam is that about 60-70% of the exam is straight memorization. This means that you will need to know the definition of terms and phrases from lecture notes and handouts.  The remaining 30-40% is the critical thinking portion.  This is the toughest portion, but should be the most thought provoking.  Many students score lower in this section in part because it is harder to prepare for. 


I typically curve the exam scores.  I average the top 2-5 student exam scores and set this as the 100% mark for any individual exam.  Your test score will be a percentage of that averaged value.   Note that the student with the highest exam score will earn more than 100 points for the test. 


Returning Exams:

My practice is to return the hourly exams within one week from the time the tests were taken.   I will try and comment whenever appropriate.   I will make every attempt to hand the exams back in a timely fashion.  I will post or provide an answer key for the exams at the time I hand them back.  I will also post a current course standing on the web at this time.


Questions Concerning Exams:

If you have questions concerning your test (aside from math errors on my part) you must wait at least one day from the return of the exam to come and talk to me.  But do not wait longer than two weeks, because I will not make corrections beyond this time.  You are responsible for keeping and documenting all grade changes such that you need to retain all exams and assignments till the end of the semester. 


Final Exam:

There will be a final and the first part will be in the same format as all the other exams.   This section of the final will be worth 150 points.  Two thirds of the final will be just like any other hourly exam in that it will cover the bulk of information discussed the last two to three weeks of class.  The additional third (50 points) will be totally comprehensive and will include questions from the laboratory section as well.  (These types of questions could include how to create a 500 mM solution of glucose given the molecular weight of glucose, or what is the osmotic concentration of a given solution.)


Course Grade:

Your grade for this course will be determined on the total number of points earned from hourly exams (100 pts each for 300 pt total), the final (150 pts), laboratory (150 pts), in-class or out-of-class exercises and participation (150 pts total).    The total for the course is 750 points.  The grading scale is as follows:


92 -- 100%                     690 – 750                              A

82 -- 91%                       615 – 689                                B

72 – 81%                       540 – 614                                C

62 – 71%                       465 – 539                                D

61% or below                  below 464                                F


You should be able to monitor your standing in this course by keeping track of your test scores and exercises.  Recall that I previously stated that I would not give you a grade until the end of the semester.  However, you will have a running total and that should allow you to determine your percentage at any point in time.




This is only an approximate schedule and is subject to change as lecture progresses and as materials and assignments are added or removed from the list.  The readings are for Silverthorn’s book, but there are similar chapters in each text.


Lecture Topic



 Sept. 1- 5

Cells and Chemistry

Read Chpt. 1-4

No lab exercise this week – discuss lab format

Class activity --


Sept. 8-12

Membrane Dynamics and Cellular Communication

Read Chpt. 5 & 6

Scientific Method and Lab Exercises discussion.

Blood Lab Design

What does a plasma membrane look like?

Sept. 15-19

Endocrine Physiology

Read Chpt. 7

Blood 1

Memorize common pituitary hormones!

Memorize other common body hormones!

Sept. 22-26

Exam 1

Neurophysiology & CNS

Read Chpt. 8 & 9

Blood 2

 Action Potential

Signal propagation

Sept. 29 – Oct 3

Neurophysiology, CNS, PNS

Read Chpt. 10 & 11

Blood – Completion


Oct. 6-10


Read/Review 8-11

Muscle Physiology


Oct. 13 - 17

Muscle Physiology

Read Chpt. 12 & 13

Exam 2

Muscle 1


Oct. 20 - 24

Skeletal muscles physiology

Read chpt. 12 & 13

Cardiovascular Physiology

Read Chpt. 14-16

Muscle 2


Oct 27 - 31

Cardiovascular Physiology

Read Chpt. 14-16

Muscle 3 – Summary


Nov. 3 - 7

Cardiovascular Physiology

Read Chpt. 14-16

Respiratory Physiology

Renal Physiology/Cardiovascular


Nov. 10 - 14

Exam 3

Respiratory Physiology

Read Chpt. 17 & 18



Nov. 17 - 21

Respiratory Physiology

Read Chpt. 17 & 18

Renal Physiology and Water and Salt balance

Renal/Heart 1


Nov 25

Renal Physiology

Read Chpt. 18 & 19

NO LAB --Thanksgiving Holiday


Dec. 1 - 5

Digestive Physiology

Read Chpt. 20 & 21

Reproductive Physiology

Renal/Heart 2


Dec. 8 – 12


Reproductive Physiology

Final Exam

 Summarize Renal/Heart




Tentative Schedule for General Physiology Lab:
Week 2: Sept. 8 & 10                             Discuss labs (format and time-table), assign readings.

bulletWork on designing blood investigation bulletIntroduction – lecture briefly on components of blood bulletDiscuss some experimental techniques. bulletFind a Ringers solution for mammalian blood, frog blood, trout blood and rabbit blood – try publications or the internet.  Why would they be different?  Why are they important? bulletExperimental Design for each blood component.  Review blood components and how they might change.   What types of questions can be addressed?  What supplies are needed and how the questions be asked.

Week 3: Sept. 15 & 17                             Investigating Blood:  Plasma volumes

bulletReview Experimental Design Protocol bulletProtein Assay? bulletEnzyme Assay? bulletOsmolarity of plasma/does it change? bulletDiscuss Wk 1, discuss Ringer’s solution recipes and how investigators modify these for experimental purposes.

Week 4: Sept. 22 & 24                            Investigating Blood:  Protein composition

bulletElectrophoretic Separation of Proteins – Molecular Wt. Determination bulletWhat causes protein composition to change?


Week 5 Sept 29 & Oct 1                       Investigating Blood:  Cellular Compsition (summary)

bulletCell counts bulletCell shapes and cell counts

Week 6: Oct. 6 & 8                   Muscle Physiology (question and design – order)

bulletEnergy sources for skeletal muscle and smooth muscle bulletFunctional physiology for muscle composition


Week 7: Oct. 13 & 15                             Muscle 1 (experimental design completion and begin experiment)

bulletAre skeletal muscles influenced by external calcium ion changes?  Is smooth muscle? bulletIs ACh only influential on skeletal muscle or also in smooth?

Week 8: Oct. 20 & 22                             Muscle 2 (summary)

          Do similar muscles have similar work load capacities?

          Muscle composition and work loads, comparing different muscles


Week 9: Oct. 27 & 29                             Renal and Heart Physiology

bulletHeart physiology (force of contraction, cardiac output) bulletBlood pressure measures bulletBlood volume measures

Week 10: Oct 28 & 30                            Renal/Heart 1

          Heart function (force of contraction measures), how does force of contraction relate to stroke volume?   What about frequency of beats?  Can one measure ECG on a frog and what does it mean?

          Hormones/calcium and other stuff that influences heart function.

Week 11: Nov. 3 & 5                               Renal/Heart 2

bulletHow does renal function influence heart function?  Think about water loads and salt loads. bulletHow can one alter blood volume and monitor heart function?


Week 12: Nov. 10 & 12

bulletNo Lab –                                 Veteran’s Day Observed

Week 13: Nov. 17 & 19                             Renal/Heart 3 (summary)

bulletChamber volumes and how they change with treatments bulletPressure changes? 

Week 14: Nov 24 No Lab --                  Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 15: Dec. 1 & 3                               Presentation of Results in Poster format (Reports due 12/8/03)