Freshman biology curriculum

Sun Aug 27 09:04:03 EST 1995

Three years ago we did just the opposite and went from a two-semester 
sequence to a three-semester sequence.  The other courses in our 
required core were and still are cell biology, genetics, and ecology.  
Thus the only required exposure to animal and plant biology at the 
organismal level (morphology, anatomy, physiology) is in the beginning
sequence and neither botany nor zoology were being done justice in the 
two-semester sequence.  In addition, if anything was slighted it seemed 
to be the plants, and for most students including many of those 
interested in health professions, their only exposure to plant biology 
per se was in a few very abbreviated weeks in their freshman year.

We, both faculty and students, are universally pleased with the move to 
the three-semester sequence.  BTY, if a desire to "integrate" is
driving the proposed change, I would be skeptical.  We have found that 
students appreciate the organized phylogenetic approach to organisms 
early on.  It seems they feel more confident and able to "integrate" 
in the upper-division courses such as the required cell biology, 
genetics, and ecology when they know the organisms they are integrating. 
Maybe it's something inherent in us to know the names of objects and 
their place in the larger scheme of things.  This is not to say that the 
botany and zoology courses are all systematics.  In fact, we have 
shifted away from a solely classical approach and try to take a broader, 
integrated view of plant and animal biology, building on the cell/mol
background they gained in the first course.  

Good luck.
John    jsowell at
Biology Department
Western State College
Gunnison, CO  81231

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