BIOLOGY R101; General Biology; 3 units


Spring, 2017

Meeting time & Place

M/W        11 AM – 12:15 PM          (AA-101)        [CRN 31391]

T/Th         9:30 AM – 10:45 AM       (AA-101)        [CRN 32270]

T/Th         11 AM – 12:15 PM          (LS-16)           [CRN 33635]


Dr. Michael Nicholson

Contact information

Office = Liberal Arts Building, South Wing, room “T”

e-mail = (cc:

web page =

Office phone = (805) 678-5197 -or- (805) 498-8451

Office hours

Office Hours = M/W 12:15-1:30; T/Th 9-9:30 & 12:15-1


Description: This course presents an overview of the principles of biology.  Topics covered include the cellular basis of life, basic chemistry, metabolic processes of respiration and photosynthesis, genetics, and evolution.  Lecture and Laboratory are separate in this course for grading purposes.  Lecture will be divided into lectures, presentations, and discussion.  Presentations will most likely be video.  Discussions will be open and participation will be expected; try to have constructive things to say, especially if discussion subjects are noted in advance.  Lab is not required in conjunction with Lecture, and you are responsible for scheduling Lab separately, if the Lab component is required for your particular program.


Objectives:  Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:  Describe the scientific method of inquiry as it relates to biological organisms; Define and explain mechanisms of biological change/evolution; Describe the structure and function of cells and common organelles; Explain sequential steps in cellular metabolic pathways such as respiration; Describe cellular reproduction; Explain nucleic acid structure and function; Describe the relationship among cells, tissues, organs, and systems; Describe ecological relationships and the organization of the biosphere; Explain hierarchical organization of biodiversity and classification; Describe current issues and applications of biotechnology.


Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):  Students will be able to:  1) Identify characteristics common to all living organisms; 2) Describe the function of cellular organelles; and; 3) Solve inheritance questions using Punnett squares.  To assess these SLOs, questions will be presented in Exams, Quizzes, and Assignments throughout the course.  The final exam will include a section for SLOs.


Texts:  The required text for this class is:  Belk and Borden-Maier.  Biology:  Science for Life, 5th Edition.  Pearson.  The text is available at the books store, and it may include an access code for; there are no plans to use during the course.  If you already have the text, you can get the access code separately.  The 3rd, 4rd editions of Belk & Borden are also acceptable, and other texts may be used - but no direction regarding equivalence will be provided, and the material may not correspond to the official text or the lecture. Not everything in the book will be covered in lecture.  Likewise, not everything in lecture will be covered by the book.  Some of the material in the book will be skipped completely.  Students are expected to read the text, reading appropriate sections prior to lecture is strongly suggested.


Exam Requirements and Grading:  There will be 3 “lecture exams”, each with about 50 questions and each worth 133 points.  For each exam, be prepared with a #2 pencil and Scantron 882-E (narrow-format with 50 questions on each side.  Exams will be given first thing on the designated exam date, and will require no more than the allotted class time.  DO NOT MISS THE EXAMS because there are no make-up exams. However, if an exam must be missed, alternative arrangements might be possible, most likely to take the exam with a different section.  It is the student’s responsibility to contact the professor to discuss options (see the schedules for each section).  If a makeup is arranged, it is the student’s responsibility to execute on the arrangements.  In emergency situations, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the professor ASAP to make alternative arrangements if possible.  Students requiring an alternative arrangement for an exam must be prepared to provide evidence of the emergency circumstances (it must be available until a final grade is assigned, but please DO NOT simply provide it unless it is requested).  With these provisions, if one of the exams is missed, it should not hurt your grade, assuming an alternative exam can be taken.  IMPORTANT NOTE, if an exam is a take-home exam, it must be completed on time, so it is important to keep informed regarding exams as they approach.  Take-home exams may be paper copies requiring a Scantron or may be distributed on-line.  Take-home exams are always open-book and open-notes, and collaboration is encouraged to provide an opportunity to learn cooperatively; exceptions will be explained as needed.


Assessments (“quizzes and homework”) will be worth 10 pts each, and there will be up to 10 graded assessments in total, for a maximum of 100 points in total.  All in-class quiz assessments will be offered once, at the start of the class period, and will require a #2 pencil and Scantron 815-E (the small Scantron; have one available throughout the course).  In-class assessments may be either collaborative or individual classwork that is designed to be completed in the class on a particular day.  Classwork is only available on the date it is assigned, and no make-ups are available for such classwork.  Every effort will be made to announce upcoming classwork, but there is no guarantee that classwork will be announced in advance.  Classwork that is part of a larger assignment will receive only a partial grade for the parts of the whole assignment.  Typically, assignments are divided into equal proportions for grading purposes.  Missing a classwork portion of an assignment will always lead to a grade reduction of the final grade for the assignment; typically, this will be only a 25% reduction if the absence is excused or accompanied with justifiable notification. Take-home assessments, also known as “homework”, will generally be due within a week of being assigned, and will not be accepted after the due date; since these assignments are available in advance, and are often also posted on the internet, there can be no exception to the deadline.


Assessments, in general, may be paper copies, perhaps requiring a Scantron, or may be on-line, requiring internet access.  In-class quizzes are always closed-book and closed-notes.  Classwork will generally be collaborative (not always) and may or may not be open-book and/or open-notes.  Homework is always open-book and open-notes, and collaboration is encouraged to provide an opportunity to learn cooperatively; exceptions will be explained as needed.  For take-home exams (if offered) independent work is absolutely expected and assumed, following the honor system.  All homework or take-home exams must be completed on time.  Again, if an exam is a take-home exam, it must be completed on time.


There is a maximum of 500 points available (400 pts exams + 100 pts quizzes/homework). The grading scale is 10% (i.e. >90% is an A, 80-89% is a B, 70-79% is a C, etc).


Internet Access:  It is expected that students will have internet access, even if only through the library on campus.  Emails and notifications, if distributed, will be sent to the address on file in Banner, so please make sure your information is up-to-date and accurate.  This syllabus is available for review/printing online only.  Other materials required for points during the course may be available online only, including information, handouts, and homework assignments or “take-home” quizzes or exams.


Attendance:  Attendance will be tracked primarily with sign in sheets.  Attendance does not contribute to the grade, but missing class can hurt a grade if material is being missed or is not being completed as a result of absences.  Missing the first date of class is grounds for being dropped.  Furthermore, if a student misses 1/9 of the course (4 days), he/she should expect to be DROPPED from the course or receive a failing grade.  Failure to attend is NO GUARANTEE of being dropped!    To avoid receiving a failing grade, students who stop coming to class are urged to drop the course on their own, instead of expecting to be automatically dropped.  Irrespective of other attendance, missing two exams is grounds for being dropped.  Certain participation-based assignments, quizzes, and/or exams will only be offered one time, so failure to attend class on days with such material will result in an automatic zero grade for the specific item.


Academic Honesty:  Cheating is not tolerated and any student found cheating will receive a summary grade of zero on the material at hand.  Academic Dishonesty Reports will be filed as appropriate for a student who performs any acts of cheating.  Collaboration for out-of-class work is not considered cheating, provided that the collaboration is approached with the spirit of academics and learning.  If collaboration is specifically not allowed, such as with a take-home exam, there is a specific responsibility to adhere to a policy of academic honesty.


Cell Phones and Other Distractions or Disruptions:  Cell phones and other electronics cannot be used during lab and must be muted or otherwise silenced.  Recognizing that emergencies can occur and that some students may have a specific responsibility, if an incoming call MUST be answered, please exit the laboratory to do so.  During exams or quizzes, cell phones must be turned off, so students with responsibilities to others must prepare for a temporary break in communications at these times.  Other disruptions may be interpreted as (to name a few examples) arriving late to class, excessive attention to or reliance on messaging/paging/texting, casual/off-topic conversation, eating, and using electronics for purposes not directly related to the course material at-hand.  Students who choose to ignore cell phone/distraction/disruption rules or who decide to engage in distracting or disruptive activity may be summarily dismissed from class, and may therefore miss points as a result of the forced departure.


Educational Assistance Center (EAC):  Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact the EAC as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.  Authorization, based on verification of disability, is required before any accommodation can be made.  The phone number for the EAC is (805) 986-5800 ext 5830 and they are located in the Student Services Building (behind business office and admissions and records).


Financial Aid:  Educational costs can be a burden, but options exist meeting the costs!  Talk to someone at Financial Aid, in the Student Services Building, Room 140, to identify the best options for you.  The phone number for Financial Aid is (805) 678-5828.




Approximately one exam is scheduled for every 3 chapters.  Exams and quizzes will be at the start of the lecture hour only.  On-line exams and quizzes, when offered, are timed and are available only for a limited number of days.  Assignments will be due at the beginning of lecture only.




Lecture Subject




Classes Start



Can science cure the common cold?




MLK No Classes



Science fiction, bad science, and pseudoscience




Last day to drop w/refund




Is it possible to supplement your way to better health?




Last day to drop w/out "W"



Exam 1



Body weight and health?




Life in the greenhouse




Presidents' Birthdays No Classes







Cancer/Are you only as smart as your genes?




Are you only as smart as your genes?/DNA Detective




Spring Break No Classes



DNA Detective




Exam 2



Genetically modified organisms




Genetically modified organisms/Where did we come from?




Where did we come from?




No classes



Last day to drop w/W



An evolving enemy




An evolving enemy/Who am I?




Who am I?




Final Exams Week



Day of Final

Section [regular meeting days/time]

Time of final

Wed 5/17

CRN 31391 [M/W 11-12:15]


Tues 5/16

CRN 32270 [T/Th 9:30-10:45]


Thurs 5/18

CRN 33635 [T/Th 11-12:15]