Autumn.wmf (12088 bytes)Introduction to Organismal Biology (BIOL221) - Dr. S.G. Saupe; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

An Introduction to Organismal Biology (Biol221)

INSTRUCTOR:  Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D. (call me Steve, Dr. Saupe, Mr. Saupe, or whatever feels most comfortable to you)

Office:  PENGL 335
Phone: (320) 363-2782
Office Hours:
email Address:
Home Page:
Section Home Page:

COURSE DESCRIPTION/OBJECTIVES:  Welcome to Biology 221!  This course builds on the foundations you acquired in Biol121 and takes you to a new level - the level of the organism.  We shall be exploring plant and animal form and function, side by side, in lecture and lab.  Though the connections between the cellular and organismal level may not be immediately apparent, please keep in mind that multi-cellular organisms are communities of cells whose general properties and activities are already familiar to you.  We will take a problems-based approach to our studies.  Any species, whether plant or animal, must deal with the same basic problems � transport, exchanging materials with the environment, reproduction, defense against predators, and so on.  In this course we will examine some of the major biological problems faced by all organisms and then see how plants and animals, respectively, have evolutionarily �solved� these problems.

    In lab you will gain hands on experience with a diversity of biological systems and will while investigating these systems you will become familiar with a variety of technical skills.  You will also gain an understanding of how scientists communicate with each other using descriptive statistics,  graphs and tables, scientific figures and written lab reports.  The specific objectives of lab are to:

  1. describe biological variation using a histogram
  2. plot and describe a normal distribution
  3. Test hypotheses using statistical tests (t-test)
  4. Prepare a proper scientific graph using the computer
  5. Develop and test hypotheses, experimental design
  6. Write a scientifically formatted lab report
  7. Use writing to learn & articulate information
  8. Use the computerized data acquisition systems

AUDIENCE  This course is the second of a three-semester introductory biology sequence. This course is required for students majoring in biology. This course also fulfills the Core guidelines for Natural Science majors.

CLASS TIME/PLACE:  This class meets odd days (1-3-5) from 1:00 - 2:10 pm in PENGL 373. You must also attend a laboratory session once per cycle that you have separately scheduled. 


  • Campbell, N & JB Reece.  2008.  Biology.  Eighth edition.  Pearson-Benjamin Cummings.
  • Concepts of Biology Lab Manual - Spring 2009 (distributed during your first scheduled laboratory) 
  • Student Lab Notebook for Life Science (available at the SJU Bookstore)

COURSE STRUCTURE/FORMAT:   Your success as a student in this course will require regular attendance, careful note-taking, and mastery of the textbook material through careful study.  You will meet for a 70-minute lecture period every other day.   Since the labs are smaller than the lectures, you will probably attend another lab section than most of the people in your lecture.  Labs are taught by professors and student Teaching Assistants, and meet once every cycle (including cycles 1 and 12).  Lab attendance in your lab section is mandatory.  The time scheduled for each lab is 2 hours and 50 minutes, but occasionally you may need to stay longer to complete assigned work, or come in outside of the regularly scheduled time to check on the progress of an experiment.  There will be 3 lecture exams plus the final.  The lecture exams will cover the chapters indicated on the course syllabus.  The final will be comprehensive and cover new material.  Your instructor may also assign homework, give quizzes or request your attendance at seminars for a portion of your grade.

DAILY CLASS FORMATThe format of each day will be similar so that we can establish a routine or ritual for our studies.  Our format is designed to be fun and to get you moving, talking, and thinking in class right away. 

  • Music will greet us at the beginning of class (selected by the class leader; begins no later than five minutes before class.  The music will set the stage for our studies and relax our minds so that we can focus on our task ahead.)
  • Gather Materials - check the front desk for any handouts. Good students are prepared and ready to begin work when the period begins.
  • At exactly 1:00 pm I will turn off the music and the class leader will ring the gong and announce, "Class is now in session."
  • Opening Greeting: I will greet you by saying "Good Afternoon". The class will respond, "Good Afternoon".  (Please return my greeting heartily. "The secret of joyful living is joyful greeting" - Dr. P. Pendse).
  • I will then ask, "How are you this morning/afternoon?" The class answers enthusiastically (one of the following on the overhead or other selected by the class leader):

"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)
Or, other greeting selected by the class leader

  • Announcements (from instructor and solicited from the class)
  • Class overview (provided by the instructor)
  • Class Activities - during each class we will typically provide time to:

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

  • Five-Minute Warning - the class leader will ring the gong.
  • End of Class - please do not pack up to leave until we show our mutual respect for one another.  I will close by saying, "Thanks - that ends another incredible day of biology."  The class responds by saying, "Ditto, dude!"  Or, the class leader selects a different closing. 

CLASSROOM ETIQUETTE: The following is a list of suggestions to make our classroom experience as enjoyable and productive as possible for all of us:

  • Please turn off your mobile phone before class
  • Obviously, if you need to use the toilet during class, please do so.  However, please attempt to use the toilet before class so that you do not disrupt class proceedings when leaving/returning to your seat or miss any class activities
  • Unless you absolutely need to leave class before the period ends, please wait for me to dismiss the class before packing up your books, etc.
  • If you bring food to class, please eat quietly and clean up after yourself
  • Tidy your area before leaving class - return any supplies to the front desk, etc., throw away garbage, papers, etc.
  • If you arrive late, please sit in the first available seat to minimize disrupting others
  • Please DO NOT:  talk, pass notes, send text messages, etc., during class.

REVIEW SESSIONS/STUDY TIPS:  I will hold a review/tutor session most every week.  These sessions are optional, but students who earn less than 75% should certainly plant to attend.  There are many ways to effectively study for this course. Check out Study Tips and More Study Tips.  Also, you may want to check out some advice from previous intro bio students who have taken my BIOL121 course.  who Be sure to check out and use the CD-ROM and/or text book website.  If you ever need assistance or have questions, please come and see me.

EVALUATION:  Your grade will be based on your performance on exams, quizzes, homework and laboratory work according to the following distribution:

    1. Lecture Exams (68%)
    2. Laboratory Work (25%)
    3. Assignments/Participation (7%)

1. Lecture Exams (68%) - there will be four exams. These will be a mixture of subjective (i.e., short answer, definition) and objective (e.g., multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank) questions.  Sample questions from one of my past exams are posted online. Exam questions may be taken directly from homework assignments and material that we cover in class. Anything we do in class is "fair game" for an exam. Thus, you should take copious notes during class!  The first three exams are each worth 16% of your final grade. The fourth (and final) exam is worth 20% of your final grade (it is worth more than the others because it has a significant, 20%, comprehensive component).

2. Laboratory Work (25%) - Your laboratory instructor will submit 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. Assignments/Class Participation  (7%) - This component of your final grade will reflect your performance on assignments.  There will be short assignments nearly every day.  These will include take-home quizzes, concept maps and class leader (click for more details). 

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 60% = F

    Getting good grades is very important. Work hard and you will succeed! Remember, review sessions are your secret weapon for success!

    Good achievement on exams will be recognized by stars on your exams (gold = top score; silver = 2nd highest, red = 3rd, green = 4th, blue = 5th).

    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 is not available.

APPEALS You have the option of appealing the grading you've received on any exam question or assignment.  To do so, type on a separate sheet of paper your rationale for why you should receive credit for the question.  Be sure to frame your argument carefully and concisely.  Turn in your typed appeal and the original assignment or exam within one week of receiving the original graded assignment.  Please note that if I have made any errors in grading your exams (i.e., incorrectly counted up points, mis-marked a question) please see me immediately and I will correct the error without the need for an appeal.

COURSE INSTRUCTORS:  Biology 221 has eight lecture sections and fourteen laboratory sections.  If questions or problems arise do not hesitate to contact me, any other instructor, or the course coordinator.  We are always willing to talk with you and, if possible, assist you with your concern.  We wish you a successful and exciting semester!  The instructors for this course are: 

Ms. Carol Jansky
NSC 218: 363-3178
Lab/Lab Coordinator

Dr. Phil Chu
PENGL 307; 363-3561
Lecture and lab

Dr. Kristina Timmerman
Lecture & Llab

Dr. Danielle Grove-Strawser
PENGL 265; 363-2563
Lecture and lab

Dr. Cheryl Knox
NSC 254: 363-3224
Lecture & lab

Dr. Elizabeth Wurdak
NSC 212; 363-3177

Dr. Jeanne Marie Lust
NSC 208; 363-2777
Lecture & lab

Dr. Stephen Saupe
PENGL 335; 363-2782
Lecture & Lab

  Dr. William Lamberts
  PENGL 353; 363-3160
  Lecture& Lab; Course coordinator

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" and turn it in to me following the activity.  Cards are due no later than Study Day.  As a general guide -  lectures are worth five bonus points, journal summaries and book reviews are worth 3 bonus points, and summaries of TV programs are worth 1 points.  For other activities, we will assign an appropriate number of points.  If in question, ask.  As a rule of thumb, more than 20 bonus points will have little impact on your final grade.

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. 

THREE-RING BINDERS:  I recommend the use of a 3-ring binder for your course materials and notes.  All class handouts will be punched with three holes to make it easier to put in a binder.  In my experience, students with organized notebooks perform better in the course than those with messy ones.

PERSONAL FILE 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 and extra copies (if any) of handouts. 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.  Violations of academic integrity will be dealt with according to the procedures outlined on pages 24-25 of the 2005-2007 Academic Catalog and can be viewed on line at:

ATTENDANCE: Each class I will pass around an attendance sheet to sign/initial.  To reward you for your attendance you will receive a "cool" sticker.  You will not be penalized for missing class, but remember that 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.

EMAIL I typically check and respond to email first thing in the morning (between 8 & 9:00 am) and before I leave in the evening (usually about 5:30 pm).  If you send an email after about 430 pm I will not see it nor respond to it until the following day because I do not check email after leaving my office.  Please plan accordingly.

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.

LATE ASSIGNMENTS: I expect that assignments will be turned in on time. I reserve the right to accept or reject a late assignment, and to give reduced credit to the work.  As a general rule, if you turn in an assignment late but before I have graded the assignment, I frequently do not deduct any points.  However, if the assignment is received after grading, then points WILL be deducted at my discretion (typically 10% per day late).  Missing a class does not excuse you from submitting assignments on time. 

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:  (1) Written assignments must be typed. There will be many obvious exceptions. For example, any assignments completed in your field notebook or assignment book need not be typed. If in question about whether an assignment should be typed, please ask. Assignments not typed will be penalized 50% of the total possible points; (2) Assignments with multiple pages must be stapled.  Any assignment that is not stapled will automatically loose 2 points.  Please note that I have a stapler available with me in every class; (3) Frayed edges - any assignment turned in on paper with frayed edges ripped out of a spiral bound notebook will automatically loose 2 points.  If you use spiral notebooks that's fine - simply remove the edges before turning in the assignment.

COURSE PHILOSOPHY:   I 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. "Biological" 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.  I have provided a more complete statement of my teaching philosophy if interested.

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

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Last updated: January 07, 2009        � Copyright by SG Saupe