NAU Biology BIO 372
Syllabus The Class Communicate Library Instructor
HelpGet Started
BIO372 : Syllabus


BIO 372Revolutionary Thought in BiologySpring 2010
Instructor:Kathy Frederiksen
Office Hours:E-mails
Class Room:None. This is a class taught entirely on the World Wide Web.


This course will provide a critical evaluation of some of the theories that have had, or are having, a major influence on our perception of the biological world. These theories appear from time to time in the news and in popular literature. We will study the theories, the supporting evidence for the theories, and the process by which the theories themselves are developed. This course develops critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills within the Environmental Consciousness theme in the liberal studies program at NAU.


Background in biology is not required. However, students taking this upper division course are expected to have developed the ability to recognize and learn relevant subject matter presented in text and in pages on the World Wide Web. Relevant material will appear in readings available on e-reserve at the NAU Cline Library as well as from other on-line resources. For this 3-credit class you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week for college level work to read, understand, digest, and relate the subject matter.


The subject matter for this course consists of the readings, the online lessons, the online glossary, and the information found in the links to supplementary internet resources in both assignments and online lessons.

Readings for this course will be available as electronic articles in Vista. You may read them on your computer screen, or you may find it more convenient to print them and read them in hard copy.


There are 6 subjects that we will take up during the semester. In the 15 teaching weeks of the semester, there will be 2 ½ weeks for each of the subjects.

Each of the 6 subjects is organized into two topics. The lesson associated with each topic is an outline guide to the readings for that section of the course and contains links to additional material you can access through the web. This outline guide identifies those subjects in the readings that you should learn well enough to be able to explain to someone else.

For instance in the first on-line lesson dealing with sexual dimorphism, you should be able to explain what reproductive effort is and how it has been found to differ between human males and females.

A good way to check your learning is to have someone else ask you to explain the items in the on-line lessons.

Review questions and other activities follow the lesson for each topic and are available in BIO 372 in Vista.

You are expected to complete all the activities (i.e., review questions, exercises, tests, web activities, and other assignments) by the dates they are due. Vista will allow you access to the activities only during their availability times.

Review Questions, Assignments, Tests, etc.

Each of the activities associated with the course, except Part One of the first and last assignments, is to be submitted through Vista. The first and last assignments are questionnaires and are available through the NON-Vista part of the course, but there is a small file you will need to submit in Vista for each questionnaire. You must do all the activities independently of the other students and the results you submit must be done by you. You may seek guidance from others, but the activities themselves must be your own work.

We will be particularly concerned with various scientific topics and explanations for them. In science, these explanations are usually referred to as hypotheses. An approach to working with topics and hypotheses includes the following student outcomes.

  1. Define a scientific topic; explain what it is and why it is important.
  2. Clearly identify the hypothesis associated with the scientific topic. In other words, what could be a reasonable explanation for what you found (or what the author observed)? Start a paragraph with a sentence like, "An hypothesis which might explain this situation is..."
  3. Suggest an alternative hypothesis which could also explain the data you found or observed. An author may have included an alternative hypothesis in his paper. Include a sentence which begins something like, "An alternative hypothesis is..."
  4. Critically evaluate each hypothesis - is it testable; what evidence supports it; what evidence is needed to distinguish between the hypothesis and its alternative.
  5. Draw implications from the scientific topic, the hypothesis, and your evaluation. What does this information mean for you, for society, for other organisms?
  6. Suggest the next step to be taken, i.e., what does this work suggest should be done next to obtain a more complete explanation and/or to apply what you have learned?
  7. If you used any sources of information, cite them at the end of your assignment. Use the class citation format for your citations.


As supplementary sources of information on scientific topics, use journal articles and books by the original authors, not summaries or reviews by other authors. Popular literature (e.g., newspapers, weekly and monthly newsmagazines, "Science News," etc.) may be used to find ideas or as supplements, but not as your sole sources. It is good practice to cite the sources of the information you use in doing your assignments so that you give credit to the original authors. Use the class citation format (in Vista in the Course Menu on the left of the page).


Good communication skills are at least as important in science as they are in other disciplines. Therefore, every combination of 3 typographical errors, misspellings, missing punctuation, inappropriate punctuation, or non-sentences will count off 1 point.


  1. Find all glossary items that occur in the readings (some do not), and underline them. Learn what they mean and how they are used in the articles.
  2. Also underline and learn other subjects explained by article authors.
  3. Consider any explanation for what the authors observed as an hypothesis. Write it down and find any evidence given by the authors to support this hypothesis.
  4. Take notes on all information provided in the lesson, in sites accessed through lesson links, or through your own independent reading.
  5. Use the computer glossary. It is in the NON-Vista part of the course.
  6. If there is anything you do not understand, e-mail the instructor.
  7. If you study together with someone else, do 1-5 first on your own.


World Wide Web. For each of the six sections of the course, there will be a glossary accessible through a link on the lesson pages.


Auditors are expected to complete at least 75% of the assignments.

All review questions, assignments, and tests are due by the due date indicated. Review questions and assignments sent by the cutoff date will be graded as late with 3 points off for every day past the due date. Review questions and assignments sent after the cutoff date will receive a grade of zero. Plan ahead to get your work done early if you have a trip scheduled.

If you cannot avoid missing a quiz within the 42 hour period it is available, you may take it late if you notify the instructor in advance and adequately justify why you could not access the web somewhere in the world during that time (computer in a library, computer in an internet cafe, computer of a friend or family member, etc.). You will lose 3 points for taking the test late.
The grading scale is:
    A:  90 - 100%
    B:  80 - 89
    C:  70 - 79
    D:  60 - 69
    F:  < 60
NOTE: Tests will be available only from 12 AM on one day until 6 PM the next day (42 hours). There is no restriction on the use of your notes and the readings in taking the tests. However, you must complete the tests within the time period they are available. Vista will allow you access to the quizzes only during their availability times. REMEMBER: The clock which keeps time for BIO 372 is in the computer at NAU in Flagstaff, AZ, USA, and does not go on daylight savings time.

Except for those assignments in which you pick your own subject, you should be able to find the information you need to complete the assignments in the course content: readings, online lessons, online glossary, and links to supplementary internet resources in both assignments and online lessons. Read each question carefully to understand all that it is asking. Then provide a complete answer. If you do not earn full credit on an assignment, check the comments in Vista for that assignment. There will always be a comment to indicate how you could have provided a more appropriate answer.


You are expected to find the correct answers to the quiz questions in the course content: readings, online lessons, online glossary, and links to supplementary internet resources in both assignments and online lessons. If you did not pick a correct answer and the quiz is over, look again at the course content. The feedback for the choice you picked may be helpful in locating relevant information to distinguish among the alternatives. You will still have to identify the correct answer because Vista will not give it to you outright.


Cheating is dishonest and unethical. Students found cheating will be subject to University discipline, but at the minimum will leave this course with an F.

Remember, each assignment must be your own work. Even though you may talk to others and discuss a topic with others, you are required to complete the assignment itself on your own. Do not compare completed assignments with each other until after all of you have submitted them. Assignments that are so similar as to leave the instructor no doubt that you collaborated with each other will be considered cheating. It is not worth the risk to compare results before you submit them.

An original author deserves credit for the work the author did. To fail to properly acknowledge another's work and, thus, represent that work as your own is plagiarism. That is why you must cite the reference(s) you use in preparing your assignments. Be sure to give proper credit to the sources of information you use in writing your assignments.


Policies on Safe Working and Learning Environment, Students with Disabilities, Academic Integrity, and Insurance.


Before continuing in this course, read the Class page and complete the Student Profile/Agreement. Students who do not read the Syllabus, Class page, and send in the completed Student Profile/Agreement by January 18 and send in the completed activities for Topic 1 (Sexual Dimorphism) by January 23 may be administratively dropped from the class.

Vista vs NON-Vista Vista handles the assignments, quizzes, and email for BIO 372 while the various web pages for the course are not in Vista. Vista provides less flexibility in presenting web pages but has good management tools for assignments, quizzes, and email. Therefore, we use the advantages of each format in constructing the course.

E-mail Professor Frederiksen in Vista
NAU Copyright 2009 Northern Arizona University