bio sequence

David L. Robinson dlrobi02 at HOMER.LOUISVILLE.EDU
Tue Jan 21 21:20:54 EST 1997

Its tricky to know what to start out with in the first year. To me,
though, you have got to start out with the most important concepts right
at the beginning so students realize what is most relevant to
biologists. If you save the most important until the 2nd or 3rd year 
haven't you trivialized it?

To *me* the foundation of biology is:

                  1) Genetics

                  2) Cells, and How They Function

                  3) Evolution

Dave Robinson
Bellarmine College
Louisville, KY

On 20 Jan 1997, Janice M. Glime wrote:

> > Dear David and plant-edders,
> >   We went through a similar conversion from a sequence of gen bio -
> > zoology - botany on a quarter system to 3 terms of biology on a quarter
> > system, following the same sequence you (and most texts) have outlined for
> > 2 terms, but doing it in three.  However, we put organismal biology in the
> > second term. 
> >   Here is my assessment of the course, now in its third year.  Our
> > original course in zoology had its problems because it did not have a
> > clearly defined mission.  Much of what is covered in zoology books is
> > taught in the anatomy/physiology course.  The evolutionary approach was
> > too advanced for the thinking level of the students and fell on uninspired
> > ears.  Thus, removing that from the freshman sequence seemed like a good
> > thing to do.
> >   Our first year with the full year of biology, we taught the cell biology
> > first term.  Students were unprepared for it, lacking the needed chemistry
> > understanding.  Furthermore, they were still too naiave about how to study
> > for college to really learn much in something so complex and detailed. 
> > Thus, we switched the first too terms to put organismal biology first,
> > cell biology second.  That works much better.  If I had my druthers, I
> > would put the ecology first, then organismal, then some mix of the other
> > stuff. 
> >   Now, the botany problem.  We moved botany to the second year, as an
> > elective in the organismal group.  Students must take at least one
> > organismal course.  That's okay, but if students don't take botany, they
> > know next to nothing about plants.  I am teaching plant morphology now,
> > and after more than 20 years of teaching it after botany, I am really
> > struggling now with 2/3 of my class lacking the botany background.  I
> > can't move as quickly because I find myself stopping to explain xylem and
> > phloem, leaf parts, and other things I could assume before.  I find it
> > very uncomfortable teaching plant morphology to sophomores before they
> > have botany, but the order of the courses is dictated by our climate and
> > lab usage.
> >   My personal philosophy is that the freshman year should be used for
> > organismal courses and to guide freshman into the standards of a college
> > course.  They should learn scientific method, experimental design, proper
> > use of the microscope, how to write a scientific paper, how to read to
> > learn, how to express and back up a position with scientific data, i.e.,
> > how to be a scientist.  They are struggling with how to learn, at least
> > for the first term, and they are struggling with all the things that go
> > with their first year of independence.  I feel that ecology and evolution
> > are senior level courses that should build on all the organismal and other
> > courses taught the previous three years.  Otherwise, we can do little
> > better than the high school level course they already had.  I think we do
> > a real disservice to the discipline and to the student when we start with
> > cell biology.  Students need to start with the familiar and go deeper and
> > deeper into what makes it work.  They cannot understand the importance of
> > peptidase when they don't understand where it sits in the digestive
> > system, relative to other parts of the digestive system, or how the
> > digestive system compartmentalizes its roles both physically and chemically.
> >   I don't envy you the change to semesters.  We have grappled with this
> > many times and have avoided the change because of the enormous cost of the
> > changeover.
> > Janice
> > ***********************************
> >  Janice M. Glime, Professor  
> >  Department of Biological Sciences
> >  Michigan Technological University
> >  Houghton, MI 49931-1295
> >  jmglime at
> >  906-487-2546
> >  FAX 906-487-3167 
> > ***********************************
> > 
> > 

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