NAU Biology BIO 372
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BIO372 : Syllabus


BIO 372Revolutionary Thought in BiologySpring 2000
Instructor:William S. Gaud
Office Hours:Tuesday 2:00-3:00 PM (for e-mails or phone calls)
Class Room:None. This is a class taught entirely on the World Wide Web.


This course will provide a critical evaluation of some of the theories that have had, or are having, a major influence on our perception of the biological world. These theories appear from time to time in the news and in popular literature. We will study the theories, the supporting evidence for the theories, and the process by which the theories themselves are developed. This course develops critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills within the Environmental Consciousness theme in the liberal studies program at NAU.


Background in biology is not required. However, students taking this upper division course are expected to have developed the ability to recognize and learn relevant subject matter presented in text and in pages on the World Wide Web. Relevant material will appear in readings as well as on-line. For this 3-credit class you can expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week for college level work to read, understand, digest, and relate the subject matter.


Readings for this course will be available as a course pack from the NAU Bookstore, which you may obtain in person or by order. It is crucial that you have the coursepack by the first day of class, so order from the bookstore early.


There are 6 subjects that we will take up during the semester. In the 15 teaching weeks of the semester, there will be 2 ½ weeks for each of the subjects.

Each of the 6 subjects is organized into two topics. The lesson associated with each topic is an outline guide to the readings in the course pack and contains links to additional material you can access through the web. This outline guide identifies those subjects in the readings that you should learn well enough to be able to explain to someone else.

For instance in the first on-line lesson dealing with sexual dimorphism, you should be able to explain what reproductive effort is and how it has been found to differ between human males and females.

A good way to check your learning is to have someone else ask you to explain the items in the on-line lessons.

Review questions and other activities follow the lesson for each topic.

You are expected to complete all the activities (i.e., review questions, exercises, tests, web activities, and other assignments) by the dates they are due.

Review Questions, Assignments, Tests, etc.

Each of the activities associated with the course is to be submitted through the web as an e-mail message to the instructor. You must do these activities independently of the other students and the results you submit must be done by you. You may seek guidance from others, but the activities themselves must be your own work.

We will be particularly concerned with various scientific topics and explanations for them. In science, these explanations are usually referred to as hypotheses. An approach to working with topics and hypotheses include the following student outcomes.

  1. Define a scientific topic; explain what it is and why it is important.
  2. Clearly identify the hypothesis associated with the scientific topic. In other words, what could be a reasonable explanation for what you found (or what the author observed)? Start a paragraph with a sentence like, "An hypothesis which might explain this situation is..."
  3. Suggest an alternative hypothesis which could also explain the data you found or observed. An author may have included an alternative hypothesis in his paper. Include a sentence which begins something like, "An alternative hypothesis is..."
  4. Critically evaluate each hypothesis - is it testable; what evidence supports it; what evidence is needed to distinguish between the hypothesis and its alternative.
  5. Draw implications from the scientific topic, the hypothesis, and your evaluation. What does this information mean for you, for society, for other organisms?
  6. Suggest the next step to be taken, i.e., what does this work suggest should be done next to obtain a more complete explanation and/or to apply what you have learned?
  7. If you used any sources of information, cite them at the end of your assignment. Use the format included on page 6 for your citations.


As supplementary sources of information on scientific topics, use journal articles and books by the original authors, not summaries or reviews by other authors. Popular literature (e.g., newspapers, weekly and monthly newsmagazines, "Science News," etc.) may be used to find ideas or as supplements, but not as your sole sources.


Good communication skills are at least as important in science as they are in other disciplines. Therefore, every combination of 3 typographical errors, misspellings, missing punctuation, inappropriate punctuation, or non-sentences will count off 1 point.


  1. Find all glossary items that occur in the readings (some do not), and underline them. Learn what they mean and how they are used in the articles.
  2. Also underline and learn other subjects explained by article authors.
  3. Consider any explanation for what the authors observed as an hypothesis. Write it down and find any evidence given by the authors to support this hypothesis.
  4. Take notes on all information provided in the lesson, in sites accessed through lesson links, or through your own independent reading.
  5. Use the computer glossary.
  6. If there is anything you do not understand, e-mail the instructor.
  7. If you study together with someone else, do 1-5 first on your own.


World Wide Web. For each of the six sections of the course, there will be a glossary accessible through the WWW.


Auditors are expected to complete at least 75% of the assignments.

All review questions, assignments, and tests are due by the due date indicated. Work sent after this date will receive a grade of zero.
The grading scale is:
    A:  90 - 100%
    B:  80 - 89
    C:  70 - 79
    D:  60 - 69
    F:  < 60
NOTE: Tests will be available only for approximately 2 days. There is no restriction on the use of your notes and the readings in taking the tests. However, you must complete the tests within the time period they are available.

Cheating is dishonest and unethical. Students found cheating will be subject to University discipline, but at the minimum will leave this course with an F.

Remember, each assignment must be your own work. Even though you may talk to others and discuss a topic with others, you are required to complete the assignment itself on your own. Do not compare completed assignments with each other until after all of you have submitted them. Assignments that are so similar as to leave the instructor no doubt that you collaborated with each other will be considered cheating. It is not worth the risk to compare results before you submit them.

An original author deserves credit for the work the author did. To fail to properly acknowledge another's work and, thus, represent that work as your own is plagiarism. That is why you must cite the reference(s) you use in preparing your assignments. Be sure to give proper credit to the sources of information you use in writing your assignments.


Policies on Safe Working and Learning Environment, Students with Disabilities, Institutional Review Board, Academic Integrity, and Insurance.


Before continuing in this course, read the Class page and complete the Student Profile/Agreement. Students who do not read the Syllabus, Class page, and send in the completed Student Profile/Agreement by January 21 and send in the completed activities for Topic 1 (Sexual Dimorphism) by January 26 will be administratively dropped from the class.

E-mail Professor Gaud at
or call (520) 523-7516
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