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Biology- LB144

Overview of Biology I


The first semester of Biology is a 4-credit course (LB144) that consists of two connected classes (lecture 3 credits, laboratory 1 credit). For any university-level course, for each credit, you are expected to spend 2-3 hours/week outside of class studying and working on homework assignments.

The Biology I course (lecture and lab combined) is an exploration of life at all levels. It examines the milieu and natural conditions allowing organisms to live, survive, and interact with each other and the environment, all within a scientific framework. Some faculty will focus only on large organisms, ecology and evolution, others will include genes, cells, and the chemistry necessary for life.

This course's lecture meets twice a week as two 80-minute class meetings and the laboratory meets once a week for 3-hours.


The "skills" learning goals are for you to practice and excel in these scientific practices both in the lecture and lab rooms:

  1. Communicate: Conversation aimed at a variety of audiences important for scientists: (Ben says: "Their data predicts squirrels will hit light speed!" Jen responds: "But they have zero data at that part of the graph.")
    • Speaking: practice speaking and listening to others in large & small groups.
    • Reading: practice careful and critical reading of text, identification of important points & ideas, as well as slow deliberate reading and interpretation of figures and graphs.
    • Writing: practice composition of text, writing manuscripts, building figures and graphs.
    • Thinking: practice identifying data and evaluating author's evidence-based arguments.
  2. Collaborate: Confidently cooperate in teamwork, and practice team building, team communication and leadership. (e.g. use techniques like "that's a good idea, OK, how can we improve it even more?" "Jon, you haven't spoken much, what do you think?")
  3. Analyze: Interpret evidence collected during experiments, looking for patterns and different ways to represent data, and using logical and/or quantitative reasoning to defend or reject hypotheses (claims).
  4. Design: Apply science process skills, such as: developing hypotheses, making predictions, and designing experiments to test them (e.g. design an experiment to determine whether it's change in temperature or sunlight that causes leaves to turn red in Fall).
  5. Reflect: Develop personal learning goals and reflect on your progress throughout the semester. (e.g. regularly consider "OK, what I am supposed to be learning here? Have I mastered that topic? What next?")

The "content" learning goals are for you to understand, describe, and provide examples of how:

  1. The reproduction of cells, chromosomes, genes, and individuals leads to variation of traits among individuals. (e.g., How beach mice have light colored fur because a mutation in the melanocortin receptor gene makes it difficult for them to make dark hair pigment)
  2. Interactions among organisms and the environment determine individual survival and reproduction. (e.g., How and why do Anolis lizards choose their mates?)
  3. Selection (and other mechanisms) acts on individuals and leads to the evolution of populations. (e.g., Why can human misuse of antibiotics result in new species of bacteria?)
  4. The interaction of the processes underlying heredity (genetics) with the surrounding environment (ecology) leads to evolution and the diversity of biological communities observed on this planet. (e.g., what processes and environments led to the diversification of animals?)
  5. The persistence of an allele in a population is dependent on natural selection and other evolutionary processes. (e.g., why do alleles causing cystic fibrosis and sickle cell remain in the human population?)