BIOLOGY R155; Principles of Botany (31524); 3 units


Spring, 2016

Meeting time & Place

Lecture = F 9:00-11:50 PM (LS-8)


Dr. Michael Nicholson

Contact information

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

e-mail = -or-

web page =

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

Office hours

TBA early in spring semester


Description from course catalogue: This course is intended for biology majors and covers comparative diversity, structure, and function of plants. Topics include an overview of the tree of life, emphasizing the position of plant, fungal, and photosynthetic protistan taxa; plant systems structure (anatomy), functions (physiology), and development (hormones, regulation, reproduction, & life cycles); systematics and taxonomy; phylogeny/evolutionary history; and an introduction to ecosystems and population & community ecology.


This course requires BIO 101 (or BIO 120) as a prerequisite and is transferrable to CSU and UC institutions.  Math is also required.  IF prerequisites seem to keep you from registering for the class, for any reason (for example, you had a class but you still can’t add – or even if you didn’t have the particular class but still find Botany interesting) contact the instructor for some help.


Lecture and Laboratory are separate 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 must be scheduled separately.  Lab will be comprised of hands-on laboratory work with predesigned experiments and exercises, as well as presentations, brief lectures, and discussions.  Presentations will most likely be video or physical demonstrations of experiments.  Field trips may be required.


Objectives/SLOs:  Upon completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a broad understanding of plants, fungi, and photosynthetic protistans.  Students will gain knowledge with characteristics of these groups, their phylogenetic relationships, life cycles, and structural organization.  In addition, students will be able to identify and describe plant structures and relate them to their functions, describe how organisms are organized into and interact within and among populations and communities, and describe the processes that occur within ecosystems (including flow of energy, and the role of nutrient cycling in maintaining ecosystem integrity).  Students will be able to articulate evidence for evolution in plants and related organisms.  These learning objectives will be evaluated throughout the semester with assignments (term paper and components) and with quizzes and exams.



Texts:  The texts for this class are:


Bidlack, J., & Jansky, S. Stern's Introductory Plant Biology, 13 ed. McGraw-Hill, 2014, ISBN-13 9780073369440 (required)

Young, P., & Giuffre, J. The Botany Coloring Book, Harper Collins, 1982, ISBN-10: 0064603024 (optional)


The texts may be obtained at a significant discount online through used book vendors.  The previous edition of the text is not significantly different from the required version, and may be used instead.  Not everything in the required text will be covered in lecture.  Likewise, not everything in lecture will be found in the book.  Some of the material in the book will be skipped completely.  Students are expected to read the text.  Really.  This means every chapter that is covered for the semester!  Reading material several times may be required for full comprehension.  Difficulty understanding the text is often resolved by using the text’s glossary or by using a dictionary.


Grading:  There will be 2 exams, each worth a total of 200 points.  There will be up to 4 unscheduled assessments (quizzes or homework), each worth a total of 25 points.  Although each exam or assessment is most likely to focus on the most recently covered subjects, the material may be cumulative in nature, and/or may be designed to demonstrate learning outcomes. Exams and assessments may be on-line (requiring internet access) or in-class or part on-line and part in-class.  In-class exams will be given first thing on the designated date, and should require no more than half of the class period to complete.  DO NOT MISS THE EXAMS - there are no make-up exams.  For each exam, be prepared with a Scantron and a #2 pencil.  The Scantron required is the wide-format (886-E) with 50 M.C. answers on the front side, 50 M.C. on the back, and open writing space for essay questions on a flip-page.  In-class exams may be open-book, but are NOT open-note, and electronic books are NOT permitted.  Out-of-class assessments are always open-book and open-note, but independent work is expected and required. Assessments are open-ended in format, may require drawings or diagrams, or may refer to the same.  Quiz-style assessments are most likely to be multiple-choice, in which case they will require Scantron 815-E (prepare to have one on hand at all times).  Assessments of any sort with a due-date WILL NOT be accepted late.  Exams and assessments will generally be related to material that is covered recently, or may be comprehensive. Extra credit will be available only for very special opportunities that develop during the semester, such as for special, extracurricular scientific presentations or talks that become available and which may be reasonably attended by class participants on an independent basis.  Specific details will be arranged as needed for such opportunities, and these details will be available for all to understand and review, leaving as much time as possible for preparations to earn the particular extra credit.  Extra credit requiring attendance to a specific event will usually require proof in the form of a “selfie” taken at the event with clear details related to the event in the background (the speaker, a display, poster, entrance to venue, etc.)


There is a maximum of 500 points available. The grading scale is 10% (i.e. 90+% is an A, 80-89% is a B, 70-79% is a C, etc).


Attendance:  Attendance will be tracked with sign in sheets. If a student misses 1/9 of the course, he/she may automatically 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.  Again, exams/quizzes are only offered one time, so failure to attend class on days with an exam/quiz will result in an automatic failing grade for the specific exam/quiz, since neither are available for make-up.


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.


Cell Phones and Other Distractions or Disruptions:  Cell phones and other electronics cannot be used during lecture and must be muted or otherwise silenced during lecture.  Recognizing that emergencies can occur and that some students may have a specific responsibility, if an incoming call MUST be answered, please exit the classroom to do so.  During exams and 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) excessive attention to or reliance on messaging/paging, texting, casual conversation during lecture, dining in the classroom, and using authorized electronics for purposes not directly related to the course material at-hand.  Students who choose to ignore electronics/cell phone rules or who decide to engage in distracting or disruptive activity may be summarily dismissed from class, and may therefore miss points related to 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).



One exam is scheduled for approximately every 5 chapters.  Exams will be at the start of the lecture hour only, and though the exams are comprehensive in nature, the subject focus for any specific exam will be the chapters that were concluded by the previous lecture.  On-line exams and quizzes, when offered, are timed and are available only for a limited number of days.




Lecture Subject




Introduction & Review

1, 2, & 3











Stems & Leaves

6 & 7



Plant metabolism & Water

10 & 9



No class




Growth & development




EXAM 1; Flowers/Fruits/Seeds








No Class – spring break




Alternation of generations




Evolution & classification

15 & 16



Bacteria & Protista

17 & 18



Fungi, Mosses & Ferns

19, 20, & 21



No class




Gymnosperms & angiosperms

22 & 23