Autumn.wmf (12088 bytes) Concepts of Biology (BIOL116) - Dr. S.G. Saupe; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

An Introduction to Plants, Animals & Ecology

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Stephen G. Saupe

Office: 335 Science Bldg; 363-2782; 363-3202 (fax)
Office Hours:  click here for schedule
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COURSE (catalog) DESCRIPTION: This course is designed to investigate the basic principles operating in all living things at levels of organization from the cell to an organism. Emphasis is placed on theories underlying our current understanding of biological processes such as energy capture and utilization, internal regulation, growth and change. Another aim of the course is to enhance the students' understanding and knowledge of living organisms, and to provide her/him with a foundation for continued studies in the biological and health sciences.

COURSE THEMES: This course will focus on the biology of plants and animals and ecology. Evolution and the integration of the form and function will be two major themes running through our discussions.

AUDIENCE:  This course is the second-half of a two-semester introductory biology sequence. This course is required for students majoring in biology.  This course does not fulfill the Core guidelines for Natural Science for non-science majors.

OBJECTIVES:  Upon completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. describe the essential theories and concepts of plant and animal biology and ecology
  2. be familiar with the resources and methods for acquiring scientific information
  3. demonstrate an orderly approach to the solution of a problem
  4. apply problem solving procedures to practical situations
  5. relate past knowledge to an understanding of modern biology
  6. have acquired an openness to new scientific developments and an awareness of their possible implications.

CLASS TIME/PLACE: This class meets days 1 - 3 - 5 from 11:20 - 12:30 pm. You will also attend a laboratory session once per cycle that you have separately scheduled.  Lab starts cycle 1.


COURSE STRUCTURE/FORMAT:  This course consists of three lectures and one laboratory session per cycle. You must attend the section of lecture and lab in which you registered. In addition to our regular meetings, special lectures and films may be scheduled through the academic year. These are often sponsored by the Biology Club. Use of the library is an essential part of your education and you are encouraged to use its facilities. Also, you are invited to pursue research under the direction of an appropriate faculty member.


"Fine and dandy! Why shouldn't I be?"
"I am super good, and getting better!"
"I am fantastic, and improving by the second!"
"I am terrific, you better believe it!" (while saying this thrust your finger towards the instructor)
"Super groovy" (give the thumbs up sign)
Or, other greeting selected by the class leader

Review the previous class material (definitions, summary, quizzes, etc.)
Introduce new material (lecture, dialogs, videos, slides, etc.)
Practice & drill new material (exercises, quizzes, etc.)
Cool Down - review class activities

REVIEW SESSIONS/STUDY TIPS:  There will be a review session held every cycle.  The time/date will be scheduled in advance.  These sessions are optional, but students who earn less than 70% on exams are EXPECTED to attend these sessions.

    There are many ways to effectively study for this course. Check out the Study Strategies cited in Concepts web site, the Three Dozen Tips  that I wrote, and the text book (p. xiii).  If you need assistance or have questions, please come and see me.

EVALUATION: Grades will be determined on the basis of your performance on:

    1. Lecture Exams (65%)
    2. Laboratory Work (25%)
    3. Notebook (3%)
    4. Class Leader (2%)
    5. On-line quizzes (2%)
    6. Assignments/Participation (3%)

1. Lecture Exams (65%) - there will be five exams. These will be a mixture of subjective (i.e., short answer, definition) and objective (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank) questions. Sample questions will be provided (click here).  Questions will be taken directly from homework assignments and material that we cover in class. Anything we do in class is "fair game" for an exam. The first four exams are each worth 12% of your final grade. The fifth (and final) exam is worth 17% of your final grade; it is worth more than the others because it has a comprehensive component.

2. Laboratory Work (25%) - Your laboratory instructor will submit to me at the end of the semester a grade (from 0 - 100) that reflects your performance in lab. Please note that this grade is worth one-quarter (25%) of your final grade in the course!  Take lab very seriously - it can make or break your grade.

3. Notebook (3%) - You are required to maintain a notebook that will be graded at the end of the semester. It is my experience that students with neat and organized notebooks perform better than those with messy ones. The notebook should be a three-ring binder type, at least one inch and preferable two, and include:

    I will collect your notebook for grading twice. It will be graded based on the Notebook Grade Rubric.  The first collection date for the notebooks is on the day of the First Exam. This grading will not count toward your grade. The final collection date and grading will be on the day of the Fourth Exam.

5. Class Leader (2%) - Once during the semester you will be assigned to be our "Class Leader". On this day it is your responsibility to:

5 On-Line Quizzes (2%)  - Visit the website for our textbook (  Once you are at the home page, click on the appropriate chapter.  Then, click on "End of Chapter Online Quizzes".  Complete the quizzes for the assigned chapters.  Bring to class a hard copy of the first page of the quiz showing that you earned a score of 70% or better.  Be sure to write your name on this page when you hand it in for grading.  Your grade will be based on the percentage of total quizzes for hich you earned better than 70%.  Late quizzes will not be accepted without a written excuse. 

6. Assignments/Class Participation/Hustle Points (3%) - This component of your final grade will reflect your performance on any assignments and your participation in class. A portion of this grade is a "good performance and hustle" award.  Everyone begins the course with 20 "hustle" points. As long as you maintain your lecture exam grades above 70% you keep these points.  For each exam that your grade drops below 70% you will loose five "Hustle" points.  You can make them up by doing Bonus Work, including writing summaries/taking notes on text chapters.  

GRADE ASSIGNMENT: Grades will be assigned based upon the percentage of total points accumulated according to the following scale: 100 - 90% = A; 89 - 87% = AB; 86 - 82% = B; 81 - 79% = BC; 78 - 72% = C; 71 - 69% = CD; 68 - 60% = D; below 59% = F

    Getting good grades is very important. Work hard and you will succeed! Remember, the review sessions, on-line quizzes, study guides, and textbook are your secret weapons for success.

   Achievement on exams and assignments will be recognized by stars on your exams.  Stamped stars will be given to everyone in recognition that the course is not easy and that we appreciate the hard efforts that everyone is making to succeed in the course. In addition, the top scorer earns a gold foil star, silver = 2nd highest, red = 3rd, green = 4th, blue = 5th.  We will applaud when the name of the student earning the top score on the exam is announced. 

    To determine your approximate grade at any time during the semester, simply divide the total number of points you have accumulated by the total possible. This information will always be provided. In addition, I will periodically provide you with a grade report. You should check this report for accuracy and to give you an indication of your progress. Keep all of your graded work, including lab work, for your records.

    Never hesitate to come and talk to me about your grade, or any aspect of the course, at any time during the semester!

    S/U grading can be requested at any time during the regular semester. You must submit your request in writing on a separate sheet of paper (not on a test or other assignment). Note: I do not recommend that anyone take the course for S/U grading, especially considering this is a majors course, but this is ultimately your decision. After final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, I will not change a letter grade to S/U or vice versa. Note: "S" is awarded for a letter grade of "C" and above.

BONUS WORK:  You will have the opportunity to earn bonus points by attending lectures, analyzing journal articles, participating in formal nature walks, or even reporting on science-related television programs.  If it is "scientific" and can be reasonably considered to pertain to our course you can earn bonus points for participating in the activity.  Obtain a "Bio-Bonus Card" file box or online. Complete the card and turn it in to me no later than noon on Study Day.  As a general guide -  lectures are worth a maximum of five bonus points, journal summaries and book reviews 3 bonus points, and summaries of TV programs  2 points.  For other activities, I will assign an appropriate number of points.  Cards should be typed or neatly hand-written.   If in question, ask me.  As a rule, your grade is not benefited by more than 20 bonus points.  Bonus work will first be applied toward any "Hustle" points that are lost.

HOW MUCH TO STUDY? As a general rule of thumb, you should study at least 2 hours for every hour in class. Thus, at a minimum you should be studying at least six hour per cycle for lecture exams. Note that this doesn't include lab work or completing assignments. Imagine that you are an academic athlete working on the mental practice field.  For more information about studying for this course, click here.

PERSONAL FILE, REFERENCES and CUBBY: You will have a file folder in a file in the Botany Lab, SC 342. You may use it to store papers/notes/etc. In addition, I will place in this file any assignments not returned to you personally, extra copies (if any) of handouts, and course readings. When in doubt or need, check here.

HONOR CODE: I run this class on the Honor Code system; in other words, I trust you to do your own work at all times. If you violate my trust, the consequences will be severe. If you have even the slightest doubt that an activity violates the Honor Code - don't do it. For more information, consult our institutional policies on Academic Honesty (CSB, SJU) and the Library web site on plagarism.

ATTENDANCE: I expect you to attend class. Being absent does not excuse you from completing assignments on time (i.e., turning in any that are due and getting the assignment for the next class). In general, you will not be able to make up anything missed in lecture or lab.

VISITORS: Visitors to our classroom are welcome. Please introduce your visitors to me. They should plan to participate (as best they can) in class activities.

SPIRAL BOUND PAPER: Assignments completed on paper torn out of a spiral notebook will be penalized 20% of the total possible points. If you like to use a spiral notebook that’s no problem - simply remove the frayed edges before turning in your work.

COMPUTER LITERACY: Every biologist should be familiar with word-processing (i.e., WordPerfect, Word), database (i.e., Access), and spreadsheet (i.e., Excel, Lotus 123) software. Computing Services offers many interesting workshops that you should consider if you need to improve your computing skills.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS: I expect that assignments will be turned in on time. I reserve the right to accept/refuse late assignments.

PRIDE: I believe that the appearance of an assignment is a reflection of the quality of the work and the degree of respect it deserves. Thus, for your benefit I require that written assignments must be typed. There will be obvious exceptions. If in question about whether an assignment should be typed, please ask. Assignments not typed will be penalized 50% of the total possible points. Also, invest in a small stapler.

COURSE PHILOSOPHY: This is a mastery-based course. In other words, anyone can earn an "A" if he/she "masters" course materials. Since you will know exactly what material to master, there is nothing standing between you and an "A" except yourself.

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY: Among other things, the coach of a sports team must: (1) teach a player techniques to play better; (2) provide motivation for a player to achieve success; and (3) evaluate the skills of a player. Like coaches, a classroom teacher serves these same roles; to teach, provide motivation for learning and evaluating (grading) the success of student. Thus, I consider myself a "coach" and you are the players. We are on the same team trying to win the "biology game". In fact, we plan to be the best "team" in the biology department. To help foster team spirit, we may occasionally do motivational cheers, listen to music and probably most importantly, we will work together cooperatively. We will start each class with some warm-ups to get the mental juices flowing (i.e., greeting), we will perform some drills to test our skills (i.e., review previous material), learn some new skills and then get a chance to practice these new skills. We'll also provide a "cool down" period at the end of class where we review what we learned. The best way to learn is simply to practice, practice and more practice until you are ready for the big day.

    I also think that learning should be enjoyable. Hopefully we will laugh together and have fun. Stamps, stars and stickers will adorn some of your graded assignments. "Botanical" music will greet you when you arrive in class. This is all done in good fun, to make our learning environment more pleasant. Yet, we will always be respectful of one another. Some students in the past have commented that they think some of what we'll do is "childish". I hope so because I want to generate some of the fun and enthusiasm that children have for learning. But remember, even though we may be silly and have fun, I am still very serious about the goals of our course.

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