Syllabus – Bio 100

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Note: the Wed Activity will be taught by Christy Bowles.  Her contact info will be posted here soon.

Course location
Lecture – SQU 316: M 8–8:50 am
Activity – HMB 210: M 9–10:50 am, M 1–2:50 pm, W 1–2:50 pm (Bowles)

Course description
Introduction to Scientific Analysis covers the anatomy of scientific literature, reading and writing scientific papers, proper citation formats, basic interpretation of tables and figures, graphical analysis, basic statistical analysis, experimental design to effectively test a hypothesis, and effective presentation of an experiment. The course is taught in one hour of lecture and two hours of activity per week.

Completion of BIO 1, BIO 2 and STAT 1, or equivalent. This course cannot be taken concurrently with or after BIO 167.

Course materials

Textbook Barnard, C., F. Gilbert, and P. McGregor. 2011. Asking Questions in Biology, 4th Ed., Pearson Education Limited, England.
Other items a calculator

My approach and expectations
As much as possible I use an active and inquiry-based approach to learning. This will require you to: 1) understand the material, not just memorize it; 2) apply your understanding to solve new problems; and 3) synthesize information across different disciplines in biology. By “active” and “inquiry-based”, I mean that we will spend time in class working together to ask questions, generate hypotheses, evaluate scientific literature, analyze data, solve problems, and share results. In other words, we will engage our minds and immerse ourselves in scientific inquiry.

We will cover a lot of material in this course and engage in a diverse range of analytical problem solving across different areas of biology. As such, you should expect to spend time preparing and studying outside of class. For some of you, this course will be difficult because you have never been expected to work and learn in this way before. If you are having difficulty with the course material, then please stop by my office hours or make an appointment for advice; that’s what I’m here for! But don’t wait until the end of the semester. If you haven’t sought out my help early in the semester, there’s probably not much I can do to help at the end of the semester. To help you learn the material and master the necessary analytical skills presented in this course, I will provide a variety of in- and out-of-class learning experiences.

As a student in this class, I expect you to be prompt, prepared, positive, productive, and polite (I’m sure there’s a pneumonic in there somewhere!). I also expect you to listen, work hard, try your best, and take initiative. If you do so, you will increase your chances of success in the course. All assigned readings must be completed prior to class.

Learning goals
More than ever students in the biological sciences require a wide range of analytical knowledge and skills. These are important in order to: 1) read, understand, write, and present scientific results; 2) effectively design and execute scientific experiments; 3) collect, prepare and analyze data. This course should be the first upper division course taken in the major; as such, it is meant to serve as a bridge between lower and upper division courses. The scientific skills presented in this course are intended to reinforce skills introduced in lower division courses, build on those skills, and extend those skills to a more advanced level.

When you have successfully completed this course, you will: 1) know and understand important facts, concepts and principles concerning scientific inquiry; 2) be able to apply these facts, concepts and principles to new situations; 3) be able to analyze scientific data, interpret scientific results, and evaluate scientific literature; 4) effectively present scientific results to others through written and oral means; and 5) be able to work effectively and cooperatively with others to achieve common goals.

Assessment and Grading
Final grades will be based on the results of two (2) lecture exams, exercises and homework assignments, a final project and presentation, and weekly attendance and participation. NOTE: Missing more than one session will result in a deduction of 5% of your overall grade per missed session. Late assignments will be deducted 10% per day late.

A single letter grade will be given at the end of the semester based on your overall point total for the assessments listed below. All assessments must be completed.

Mid-term Exam 200 20
Final Exam 250 25
Assignments 200 20
Analysis Project 250 25
Participation 50 5
Attendance 50 5
Total 1000 100

I do not grade on a curve. Final grades will be assigned based on the cumulative point totals as follows:

Percentage (%) Grade Percentage (%) Grade
≥ 93 A 73 – 76.9 C
90 – 92.9 A- 70 – 72.9 C-
87 – 89.9 B+ 67 – 69.9 D+
83 – 86.9 B 63 – 66.9 D
80 – 82.9 B- 60 – 62.9 D-
77 – 79.9 C+ ≤ 59.9 F

Learning teams
Some of our learning in lecture and activity will occur in teams.  Working collaboratively promotes peer learning and cooperation among group members to achieve common goals.  You will form groups of two during the first week of the course and work with your partner to conduct a semester-long project (see below). 

One mid-term and one final exam will be given in the course.  Exams will be multiple-choice. Exams are cumulative and will cover material presented in both the lecture and the activity. Exams are designed to assess your command of the facts as well as test your ability to problem-solve, analyze and interpret data, synthesize information, and evaluate biological phenomena – skills you will practice and reinforce in lecture and activity. To help you learn the material and prepare for the exams, I recommend that you use a combination of your written lecture notes, lecture slides, assignments, and any course material posted online as additional study resources.

To help you learn the material presented in the course, you will be required to complete a set of assignments that will give you practice solving problems and conducting the different types of analyses and inquiry we will be covering in the course. Assignments will normally be due the week after they are assigned (but see schedule for exact due dates). NOTE: To receive full credit, you must turn in your assignments on time and complete it on the assignment sheet itself (unless noted otherwise). Assignments turned in on scratch or notebook paper will not be accepted and receive zero points.  All work turned in must be your own (see policy on plagiarism below).

The Activity portion of the course is where you will actively engage in scientific inquiry and analysis. Successful performance in the activity is essential to doing well in the course.  The activity is your chance to learn the analytical “tools of the trade” and get hands-on experience with the methods you will be learning.  The activity has three main purposes: 1) to reinforce and complement what you are learning in the lecture; 2) to develop an understanding of analytical methods in biology (and science in general); and 3) to improve your scientific thinking, analytical, and scientific communication skills.

Part of your experience in activity will be working in a group of two to conduct a semester-long data analysis and interpretation project. The project culminates in a written report, bibliography, and oral presentation. Although you will conduct and present the research as a group, each student will turn in their own original written report.  All group members are responsible for contributing equally to the success of their project and grading will take into consideration individual contributions through a peer evaluation process.  The research project and its assessment will be described in more detail in the activity.

Participation and Attendance
Full participation and attendance is expected. Participation includes but is not limited to contributing to class discussion and actively engaging in peer learning and group project activities. It also includes contributing to a positive learning environment in the classroom. Failure to attend the lecture and/or activity will result in a significant loss of points at the instructor’s discretion (see grading). As stated above, missing more than one session will result in a deduction of 5% of your grade per missed session. There are several activities that depend on class discussion. If you are prepared and contribute consistently with depth you should expect to do well in this category. I will randomly pass out sign-up sheets in lecture to assess attendance.

Make-ups and late assignments
If you must miss class due to personal illness or emergency, you must notify me in advance and make alternative arrangements to complete the work. No make-up exams will be scheduled without prior notification and documentation (e.g., a physician’s or supervisor’s note, death certificate, or similar) of the emergency or illness. Regardless of reason, missed exams will still receive a deduction of 5% per day late. Students must schedule a make-up exam at the first class meeting after returning to school or earlier. Make-up exams must be taken in the Testing Center (in Lassen Hall). To schedule a make-up exam, you must make an appointment with the Testing Center, complete their request form, and submit this form to the instructor.

Late assignments will be graded down 10% of the full point value per school day late. Missed activities must be made up during another period in the same week and cannot be made up with a different instructor.

Adding/Dropping the Course
At the start of the semester, each student must evaluate whether he or she has the time necessary to devote to the course.

First two weeks: Adds are conducted by the instructor. Drops may be made by the student during the first two weeks of class. Failure to attend at least one of the first two class meetings will result in the instructor administratively dropping you from the class.

Weeks three and four: To add or drop during this period is at the discretion of the instructor and requires a green add-drop petition signed by the instructor and the Department chair. Petitions may be picked up in the Biological Sciences Department office and are processed in the Department office. This is the last day to drop this class without a ‘W’ appearing on your transcript.

Dropping after week four requires a white add-drop petition signed by the instructor, the Department chair, and the Dean. Petitions may be picked up in the Department office and are processed in Admissions and Records. Such drops result in a ‘W’ on your transcript for the course. Check the Class Schedule or for more information. There is no such thing as an automatic drop. You are responsible for dropping. Failure to do so could result in a grade of “U” or “F”.

Class behavior and academic honesty
I expect that all students in my class will exhibit appropriate and respectful behavior and adhere to the university’s policy on academic honesty.  Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be severely punished.  University policy on academic honesty clearly defines what constitutes cheating and plagiarism.  Because many students are not familiar with what exactly constitutes plagiarism, the university defines plagiarism as: “the use of distinctive ideas or works belonging to another person without providing adequate acknowledgement of that person’s contribution.”  The university further states that “Regardless of the means of appropriation, incorporating another’s work into one’s own requires adequate identification and acknowledgement.”  I strongly encourage you to read the university’s complete policy on academic honesty, which is provided here.

As an example of plagiarism, if you cut and paste or copy written material from someone else’s work and use it as your own (i.e., you do not acknowledge the source of that material), it’s plagiarism.  In other words, all work turned in by you must be your own.  If, after reviewing the university’s policy, you are still unsure about what is and what is not plagiarism, please ask!

Please note that copying material from the Internet and including it in an assignment as your own original work is also considered plagiarism.  Yes it’s common.  And it’s easy to do.  But it’s also easy to catch.  Often a simple Google search or use of one of the many software programs created to identify plagiarism will identify material copied from sources gathered from the Internet.  So, don’t risk it; write your papers and assignments in YOUR OWN WORDS. Anyone caught cheating or plagiarizing will receive an F in the course.  In addition, I will forward their name to the Dean of Student Affairs.

Persons with disabilities
I am sensitive to students with disabilities.  Any student having a visible or invisible disability that adversely affects their ability to learn, take the tests, and succeed in my class should speak with me prior to the second week of class.  This allows me time to make reasonable accommodations in advance of exams and quizzes.

A note on cell phones, texting, etc.
E-mailing, texting, social networking, playing games, or similar on a computer, smart phone or other handheld device will not be tolerated during class – either in lecture or lab. A phone that rings during class is disruptive to me and to other students.  So please turn your phone off before coming in to class.  If, however, for personal reasons you must leave your phone on and take a call or respond to a text during class, please set the sound to vibrate and take the call or reply to the text outside of class.  I will not be offended if you leave for this reason.  Any student observed texting or surfing the net during class will first be asked to stop.  If the behavior persists, the student will be asked to leave the classroom.  No cell phones will be allowed during quizzes and exams; if you need to conduct calculations during an exam or quiz, you must bring a separate calculator.  Computers, tablets and smart phones will be allowed during class for course-related work only.  If you wish to use a voice-recording device to capture my lectures, you are welcome to do so.