Freshman biology curriculum

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Aug 25 14:57:53 EST 1995

I like the idea of the three semesters...
with *all* majors getting one semester of
plant biology!

I think when you consolidate you might find
anything plant-related to be dying out (part
of the consolidation).  Plant biology gets
cut with all sorts of humanistic justifications
when two organismal semesters are consolidated.
If it isn't done "officially" it will be squeezed
out "functionally" by the faculty member(s) doing
the actual teaching.  Some/many are just not
comfortable teaching plant biology and either
don't/won't or botch it badly (eg: dark reactions
occurring only at night, etc!).

I do recommend that if you consolidate, you try
to keep plant content and instead eliminate the
alpha taxonomy.  There is enough real biology in
such a consolidation to instead push alpha-taxonomy
into a specialized (optional) course.

"Organismal" courses sometimes never cover
physiological topics...sounds like yours
maybe?  We have a two-semester freshman sequence
but due to "tradition" the second semester is
100% taxonomy/external morphology.  Thus when
we try to divide up the standard intro text,
that course covers maybe parts of four chapters
and the first-semester ends up having to do
ALL of the rest somehow.  It just isn't working
here.  I am hoping for some change here, but
the problem is entrenched.

When I teach my advanced courses, I get these
amazed mean plants are alive?
They have physiology?  Wow!  I never knew that
plants could be so interesting!  etc. etc.
Of course only a few take the adv courses so you
don't get much of that message spread through
the major.

I am hoping we can get our "organismal" faculty
member to offer a new advanced Taxonomy course so
that we can put a comprehensive ORGANISMAL course
in place of what we have now for the second
semester.  If that happens, I'll post a memo to
the group.


At 12:37 PM 8/24/95 -0700, John Choinski wrote:
>Dear Colleagues
>I teach in a biology department in a middle sized (10,000 students)
>state supported university with a growing M.S. program.  We are
>currently evaluating our freshman major curriculum in biology.  At
>present, we have three courses: Molecular & Cellular Biology followed
>by (organismal) General Botany and General Zoology.  We are
>considering consolidating this sequence into a two semester
>integrated Biology 1, Biology 2 sequence.  This proposal is sure to
>engender a lot of debate in our department, particularly from the
>classicists who feel that taxonomy and systematics are already
>slighted in our core required curriculum.  I would appreciate hearing
>from others as to what sort of courses are required for freshman
>biology majors at their school.  Also any comments about this problem
>that might be useful in our ongoing debate would be appreciated.
>Thanks in advance for your help.
>John S. Choinski, Jr.
>Professor of Biology
>University of Central Arkansas
>e-mail: johnc at

Ross Koning
Biology Department                     **n**
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Koning at            \  _H_  /
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