Biology 106(1)
Contemporary Biologic Issues in Biology: Evolution

Spring 2016

Instructor: Jim Dooley

Updated: 2016-02-04

Office: 428 Boyd Science Center
Phone: 740-826-8227,
Lecture: BSC 438, MWF 1:00-1:50 p.m.
Laboratory: BSC 441 - Thursday 12:30-3:20

Student Success Center Tutor Hrs:  Jen Hastings: 6-9 on Mondays, 4-6 on Thursdays


Please note:  Biol 106 will count in satisfying the Scientific Understanding section of Muskingum University's General Education program.  As such, the course is designed to meet the Learning Goal for the Scientific Understanding area: students will be able to "describe scientific principles and apply methods of scientific inquiry."

Biology 106 Learning Objectives:

The Biology 106 courses (Biologic Issues) aim to provide students with an enhanced understanding of how science works within the context of a particular subject or issue area.   These courses are designed to meet Goal 1 of Muskingum's LAE: "Muskingum students will develop the ability to analyze questions related to major concepts in a field of study."  Each version of this course overviews what is already established within the particular topic area as well as focal areas and approaches to current investigation.   In this way students can come to fuller understanding of how scientific inquiry proceeds from an established knowledge base to extension of insight and understanding.  Though the focal topics vary from section to section students across all versions of this course the biology department are designed such that students will advance their understanding of:

Within this broader context, the Issues in Biology: Concepts in Evolution course  has a number of explicit learning objectives that are germane to the topic at hand.  More specifically students should demonstrate:
  1. An understanding of how evolutionary ideas developed through time, starting in Greek culture.
  2. An understanding of the important advances Charles Darwin provided to the development of evolutionary thinking
  3. A basic understanding of life's history
  4. An understanding of how evolution works through the processes of selection, genetic drift, geneflow and mutation
  5. An understanding of the scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution and how scientific inquiry adds to our understanding of evolution
  6. An understanding of the nature and history associated with the debate about teaching evolution.
  7. An improved understanding of how science works as well as what kinds of questions it can address.

Course Description

At a more basic and casual level, my goals for this course are twofold. First, students should further develop and hopefully refine their understanding of evolution. Evolution provides one of the most important and exciting theoretical frameworks in all of science and certainly provides the conceptual foundation upon which all of modern biology rests. I believe that many people in this country have "kind of an idea" of what evolution is all about, but few have a solid command of even its most basic principles. In addition, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what evolution says and what it doesn't say. Much of that misunderstanding springs from a more general problem many people have in understanding how science works.  

That leads right into my second, and perhaps larger goal for the course. In many ways I plan to use evolution as an example area in science with the aim of trying to convey a more basic understanding of what science is and how it works to develop new insights and understandings. In my view,  you don't need to understand each detail of how a cell divides in order to be culturally literate, but you are going to need to understand how the process of science works if you are going to be able to make intelligent choices as a citizen, consumer, and community member.

A Word About Our Topic: Some people feel that accepting the ideas associated with evolution places them at odds with their religious or philosophical beliefs. My aim in offering this material is not that you come out of this course believing in the theory of evolution; however I will expect you to understand the basic theoretical principles underpinning modern evolutionary biology as well as current ideas about the history of life that we will advance through lectures, reading, and discussion.  I would hope that the your experience this term will enrich your ability to embrace uncertainty while maintaining a commitment to reasoned discussion and intellectual exploration.

Course Design and Structure:

Weekly course topics are outlined in the classroom schedule that follows later in this syllabus. Generally, I am planning to lecture during  part of our weekly meetings but also reserve time for discussion.  Lecture readings are listed below, but some of the readings (particularly those associated with climate change) will be TBA in order that we can maintain a flexible pace in our discussion activities. Given this design for the course, participation in class discussions will be expected and required!

Class Policies:

In some cases coaches, other staff or faculty members have taken to sending out documents listing names of students who are not going to be attending classes because of a field trip, athletic event or other college sanctioned activity.  Please Note: I will not review each of these documents and then compare the names with each of my class rosters - sorry but that would require a huge amount of wasted time.   Therefore understand that if you are going to miss class, it is your responsibility to e-mail me with an explanation as to why you will not be in class. Please be sure to include reference to the class you are taking with me and make sure I receive this information 1 week before the event.   Failure to comply with this policy will mean you will be counted as absent for the class.


Grading: Course grades will be based on the following formula:
Quizzes & Short Assignments 5%
Test I
Test II
Comprehensive Final Exam 25%
Lab Grade

In order to succeed in this course it is critical  that you participate in all discussions, journal posts, and come prepared for lecture/laboratory.  Understand that I tend to use a Socratic approach during classroom and laboratory meetings.  Expect that I will ask you about assigned readings or to comment on points of lecture.  If you are uncomfortable with this policy, consider taking another class.

Tests: Tests I, & II are closed book closed notes.  After each of the tests, we will take class time to review the exams.  You will receive your tests & answers back in order that you take notes.  The aim is to help prepare you for the comprehensive final exam.

Lab: Classes will generally start with a short quiz covering assigned reading and/or notes from previous classes (not just the immediately preceding class!). Review your notes between class meetings. Final lab grades will be based on the following: 

    1.     Quizzes, worksheets, postings, other assignments (65%)
  2.     Comprehensive Final Exam (35%)

Take notes on all lectures, exercises, and during all videos - all are fair game as material for quizzes and the final exam.

A Word About the Reading: You should understand that we can't cover everything from the reading in class.  I've selected the text because it's a good one and I expect you to keep up with the reading.  Therefore, expect that quizzes and tests will have questions drawn directly from text reading, discussion papers, videos and other materials I've assigned - even if we haven't directly discussed the material in class! 

Lab: Our laboratory is designed to complement and reinforce the important principles we are covering in lecture.  Generally, laboratory will start with a short quiz covering material from the last lab as well as any materials assigned in preparation for the current day's work.


Course Resources:

Textbooks An Introduction to Biological Evolution (2nd edition). McGraw Hill (ISBN: 978-0-07-305077-5)

McGraw-Hill Text Website  

Course Blackboard Page: (check - you should have this course as one of your Blackboard courses, if not contact your instructor immediately)

On-Line Version of the Course Syllabus. Your should plan to plan to check on-line for updates to the class web page Note that at the top of the syllabus I list the date of the last update: use that as a quick guide post to determine whether you are up to date on what is going on with the course.

Your Instructor:  I'm here to help youYou have to do the work (and make no mistake, real learning involves real work)!


Classroom Schedule:



Course Introduction: Overview of Syllabus, Poll Everywhere, Laboratory Assignment

Quiz on Syllabus
Lecture:  The Evolution of Evolution Reading: Chapter 1

Lecture:  The Evolution of Evolution Reading: Chapter 1
Journal Post Due at 5 pm!



MLK Day - No Class

Lecture: Time   Reading: Chapter 2

Lecture: Time   Reading: Chapter 2 -
How Does radiocarbon dating work?



Lecture: Time   Reading: Chapter 2
Open book quiz - SciShow video: The Vaccine Debate

Lecture: Heredity   Reading: Chapter 3

Lecture: Heredity   Reading: Chapter 3




Lecture: Heredity   Reading: Chapter 3

Lecture: Emergence of Life   Reading: Chapter 4

Lecture: Emergence of Life   Reading: Chapter 4



Lecture: Emergence of Life   Reading: Chapter 4

Exam I(Chapters 1-4)

Activity: Review Exam I, take notes & Conferences



Activity: DVD & Conferences

Lecture: Diversity of Life  Reading: Chapter 5

Lecture: Diversity of Life  Reading: Chapter 5



Lecture: Diversity of Life  Reading: Chapter 5

Lecture:  Evidence of Evolution  Reading: Chapter 6

Video:  Evidence of Evolution  Reading: Chapter 6
TED Talk - How Microbes Make Us Who We Are


Lecture:  Selection  Reading: Chapter 7

Lecture:  Selection  Reading: Chapter 7

Lecture:  Selection  Reading: Chapter 7
3/5-13 Spring Break



Lecture: Variation: Spice of Life  Reading: Chapter 8

Lecture: Variation: Spice of Life  Reading: Chapter 8

Lecture: Variation: Spice of Life  Reading: Chapter 8
Video: Genetics and Evolution (JD see notes in course folder)



Exam II: (chapters 5, 6, 7 & 8).

Exam Note Taking

No Class: Easter Break  



Lecture: Speciation   Reading: Chapter 9

Lecture: Speciation   Reading: Chapter 9

Lecture: Speciation   Reading: Chapter 9



Lecture: Extinction   Reading: Chapter 13

Lecture: Extinction   Reading: Chapter 13

  Reading: Chapter 13




Lecture:  Life History Strategies  Reading: Chapter 11

Lecture:  Life History Strategies  Reading: Chapter 11




Lecture:  What is Science (revisited) & History of Creation Science

Video:  What About God?

Video:  What About God? & Wrap up Discussion
Journal Post Due Sunday 4/24 at 9 p.m.
Return Pre-Labs from Lab 1

Due: Typed update to pre-lab 1
Discuss updated definitions from Pre-Lab 1

Lecture: TBA & Course Evaluations:
Gen. Ed. Post-Course Assessment

Final Exam:  8:30 a.m.

Laboratory Schedule:

1 1/14 Complete Pre-Lab prior to laboratory

Gen. Ed. Pre-Course Assessment
 Check out Book's Companion Web Site
Group Work: The nature of science & evolution
McGraw-Hill Support Site:
Presentation: The Nature of Science and Key Elements of Evolution
Video: Darwin's Dangerous Idea - Part I
2 1/21 Quiz
Video: Darwin's Dangerous Idea - Part II
Field Work: Research in the New Concord Cemetery
3 1/28 Pre-Lab: Journal Post on Blair & Stowaser 2009 Due 9 pm on 1/26

Literature Discussion: Blair & Stowasser 2009 [5093"] - Fundamentals of data paper in science
: Mitosis and Meiosis Review:
Exercise: Genetics of Corn
4 2/4
Field Work: Research in the New Concord Cemetery
: Why Sex?
Review: Using the McGraw Hill Online Learning Center - Bring Text books
Review for Exam I: - Questions/Review of Lecture Material
5 2/11 Quiz
If you own a computer with Excel on it - please bring it to lab!
Exercise: Group work: analysis of cemetery data for survival patterns
The Evolutionary Arms Race
Exercise: Observations of Mammalian Skulls & Teeth
2/18 Quiz -
Video: Great Transformations
Student Conferences
Presentation: A Short Primer on Descriptive Statistics
Exercise: Measurement & Analysis

7 2/25 Quiz
Turn In:
Measurement & Analysis
Video: Extinction!
Exercise:  Assessing loss of marine habitat with the coming of super continent
Journal Post on reading Due 9 pm on 3/1.
Turn In: Measurement & Analysis
Literature Discussion:  Cowley - The Biology of Beauty [2727"]
Video: Origins Battle for the Planet
Review for Lab Final

Spring Break!
3/17 Lab Final Exam


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