Bio 100: Biological Principles and the Human Environment


Text Box: Tracy S. Feldman
Office: CNR 337		Phone:	342-5340
Office Hours:  Tue 12:30-1:30; Wed 2:00-3:00; or by appointment/when my office  
door is open







Course Schedule:


Class:               Room #:          TNR 170

Day/Time:       11:00-11:50 T R (Tuesday/Thursday)


Laboratory:     Room #:          TNR 258


Section 1 3.0:              8:00-10:50 R (Thursday)
Section 2 3.0:              8:00-10:50 F (Friday)
Section 3 3.0:              13:00-15:50 R (Thursday)



1.      Biology: Concepts and Connections, by Campbell, Reece, Taylor, and Simon (rental)


2.      Discover Biology, 3rd edition by Cain, Damman, Lue, and Yoon (on reserve at the library—no need to buy this one.  Another alternative is to buy each of the chapters we will read from this book—about 8 total—for the price of $1 each from )


Description: Survey of biology emphasizing present & future relationships of humans to their environment


Biology is the study of life and living things.  What does it mean to be “alive”?  How do living things survive on planet Earth, and change as the Earth changes?  I plan to teach this course as an introduction to basic concepts related to two major and inter-related subtopics within biology: evolution and ecology.  Biology is a science, meaning that people study life using a process called the scientific method.  Whenever possible, I will draw from examples (old and new) of people’s work in the sciences of ecology and evolution, to highlight the process of using the scientific method to understand the world.  I will also attempt to cover some current examples of “ecology and evolution in the news”—the scientific work and evidence behind some common topics in the mass-media.


This course will inevitably leave out many other subtopics in biology: anatomy, physiology (more than the basics), details of immune systems of plants and animals, development (physiological changes between the beginning and the end of an organism’s life), biodiversity (a survey of the different kinds of organisms on Earth), etc.  I have chosen to leave these out, *not* because they are unimportant, but only because there isn’t time to cover all topics in biology.


Course Goals

Learning is best achieved when students take an active role in their own learning, both in and out of the classroom.  This means that you are responsible for how much and how well you learn—I am here to help you along the way, by presenting or explaining the material as needed, and by giving a variety of assignments, including reading, writing, group activities, and lab activities, to help you to understand the material.  Try not to be afraid of failure or embarrassment– if you learn something from the experience, it is not a failure at all.  But most of all, remember that if you do not understand the material, **you are responsible** for studying more to try to figure things out for yourself, and then for asking questions in class or attending office hours if you are still having trouble.  I am very happy to help you with understanding the material. 

Attendance Policy

I do not grade on attendance in lecture, but because participation in class/group discussions and in-class assignments are part of your grade, attendance is very important.  Attendance in lab is also very important.  As you are all part of groups, absences in class and/or lab will not only affect your ability to learn the material (and thus your grades), but also will affect members of your groups in class and lab (see also late policy).  The only excused absences are those sanctioned by the university: university-sanctioned sports events, class field trips, death in the family, serious illness, or accident.  If you have missed a lab or class and did not let me know ahead of time, or do not have a very good excuse, you will get a zero on any lab or in-class assignments you missed.  Please do not announce to me that you must be somewhere and expect it to be excused – it is your responsibility to provide written documentation!

Academic Honesty

An honest attitude is critical to real learning and progress in all academic endeavors.  Being an honest learner requires a commitment to abide by and foster academic honesty in all its aspects.  I expect you to have a thorough appreciation of what is meant by academic honesty, and to have made a firm commitment to embody these standards with regard to your own learning.  Plagiarism is defined in Chapter 14 of the UWSP Rights and Responsibilities Publication. 


What is plagiarism?

1.      If you use someone else’s ideas, even if you paraphrase them, and do not cite them. 

2.      If you take entire large phrases or sentences from sources without BOTH citing AND putting these in quotes.


This is true for any written assignment or group assignment for which I expect everyone to turn in their own work.  Also, please do not plagiarize my lab handouts or written assignments.  Plagiarism counts as using entire phrases or sentences from someone else’s work, and using these as your own—even if you cite these phrase or sentences, it still counts as plagiarism unless you put other people’s phrases in quotes. 


Why is plagiarism a bad thing?

1.      I cannot tell what you have learned—what do you really understand and what have you simply copied?

2.      It is illegal.  In the working world, people are fired for this sort of thing.  In academia, the consequences are also serious.

3.      It is deceptive and immoral.  It is not right to use ideas or words of others and not give them credit.


How can people avoid it?  (Plagiarism is really easy to avoid.)

1.  If you can write in your own words about what you have read in an article without even looking at the wording of the article itself, you will likely do fine.  Then, if you got the information from a source just cite that source appropriately. 

2. If you must use someone’s words, put quotes around them and cite them!

3.  If you aren’t sure, ask me!  There is no penalty for asking me about something beforehand!


What happens if a student plagiarizes an assignment?


Any failure to follow the UWSP Academic Honesty Code (including plagiarism on any assignment) will result in a zero grade for that assignment, a meeting with me to discuss it, and a written letter to go in your university file, at the very least.  If a second assignment is plagiarized by the same person, the grade for the course will drop at least one letter grade.  Here is the Very Important Link to the code:  Also, I reserve the right to submit any and all written student work to I require that you turn in digital copies of all written assignments.


Please work and learn with an open attitude.  We can only identify the limitations of our own thinking if we question ourselves and others in an open, rigorous way.  In this sense, academic honesty is integral to developing analytic thinking skills, and critical to the process of real learning.  Also, developing these skills (an open, flexible attitude, and respectfully critical) will serve you well in the working world, whatever you end up doing.


Class Rules (as determined during the first class):


  1. Respect each other
  2. Communicate well with others in the class and in your groups
  3. Do not blurt answers in class
  4. One person talks at a time (remember to use your folders when you raise your hands!)
  5. Cell phones must be on silent mode (no vibration mode).  No taking calls in class, and no text messaging (see also rule numbers 1-3 and 9)!
  6. Relax and feel comfortable in class (I hope so).
  7. Be on time
  8. Maintain good hygiene.
  9. Listen to others in class.


Desire 2 Learn & Clickers

This semester we will use Desire2Learn (D2L) as a clearinghouse for course information.  You will be able to access your grades, handouts, and any messages from me on D2L.  The website for D2L is: .  You probably also have a link in your portal, or “MyPoint” webpage under Academics.  Simply go to the webpage and log on, using your campus login and password, and you will find a link to Biology 355.  Please check the D2L site often (especially before classes), in case I have left an important message for you.  Also, homework will be posted under the week in which it was assigned (not necessarily the week in which it is due!).



This class uses “Clickers” to do interactive polling.  I may not use clickers in every class period, but I will try to use them at least once in each week. You are required to lease a clicker for $8 for the semester.  This semester lease fee will be automatically added to your UWSP student bill.  You will need your UWSP Student ID to lease a clicker.


Clickers are available through:

·         UWSP's Help Desk, located in the basement of the LRC, room 023. For hours:

·         ResNet, located in the basement of Debot, room 068. For hours:


Important: Your clicker may be used in any class that requires clickers for the semester.


Returning clickers: Clickers must be returned to one of these areas before the end of finals.  Students with unreturned clickers will receive an additional $39 billed to their UWSP account.


Grading Policy

I will assign 3 short papers during the semester, each worth 50 points.  I will also give several (~7) quizzes as homework after class (due at the start of the next class), each worth 10 points.  I will give more quizzes than I will collect for grades, but you will not know ahead of time which quizzes will be graded.  Two midterm exams will be worth 60 points each, and the final exam will be worth 120 points.  Class participation (including group participation) will be worth 100 points.  Part of your class participation grade will involve a chance to rate yourself and others in your group.  Lab assignments are to be written into your lab notebooks for each lab.  Lab notebooks will be collected and graded twice during the semester, worth 100 points each.  The total grade will be out of approximately 760 points.  I do not curve grades.


Participation Grade

If you are late to lab or class, or otherwise interrupt the flow of the lab or class (besides asking questions, which are definitely welcome!), this will negatively affect your participation grade.  In addition, your participation grade will decrease if you do not show an open attitude toward learning, and at least try to understand the material.  If you spend your lab and class time in a constructive and helpful way, your participation grade should be fine, no matter what your other grades are.  If you complain often, show disrespect, or come to class or lab late, your participation grade will reflect that.


Late policy

If you cannot complete an assignment on time, the grade will drop by half a letter grade per day.  If you let me know ahead of time by email that you are sick or for some other reason cannot make it, I will allow you to hand in the assignment up to two days late without penalty.  I will accept no more than three late assignments from any student.   It is your responsibility to hand in assignments on time. 


Going for help:

If you need help with assignments or concepts we are learning, there are many ways to get that help:

  1. Ask questions in class.
  2. Study in groups outside of class—your peers may be able to explain things to you in different ways that can help.
  3. Ask me questions during my office hours (or when I am available in my office, # 337)
  4. If you still are feeling lost, consider a tutor (—tutors are available for this course—this may be a very good way to help you understand the material better.


If you are having trouble that is more personal in nature, there are ways to get help:

1.      If you need someone to talk to, you may wish to visit the UWSP Counseling Center ( (715)346-3553, Delzell Hall.

2.      If you are experiencing difficulties that are affecting your grades, you may wish to visit the Student Academic Advising Center (, (715)346-3361, Student Services Center (building #2) in room 103.  They can help you decide what to do if you wish to drop or withdraw from a course.


Drinking and your GPA

A recent study (Lust, Ehlinger and Golden, 2008) on the health and behavior of college students at the University of Minnesota confirms that the three behaviors with the most damaging effect on GPA were: drinking, spending excessive non-work time with tv/internet/computer, and sleeping too little.


In the study, the authors report that students who drank in the past two weeks had a gpa 0.3 points lower than non-drinkers, on average.  This is less of an effect than the 0.5-point cost of binge-drinking any time during the semester, as cited in your Bio281 syllabus: it is reasonable to expect that more drinking, and drinking over longer periods of time, have greater negative consequences on performance in college.


Keep in mind, these surveys necessarily exclude unsuccessful students: students who drop out or are suspended due to poor performance are obviously not included in a late-semester survey.  This means the results are likely to be UNDERESTIMATES for the negative effects.


A summary of the report, containing a link to the full article, can be found at:


Your final exam will be on December 16th from 2:45-4:45 PM


See also: tentative course schedule with readings and topics.


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