Course Syllabus


Spring 2010

Instructor:  Melanie Loo,  Seq 414,  278-6573,

Office hours:  Tuesday 12:00-12:50 and by appointment



Course Information:

Laboratory: (Sequoia 104) Tuesday 9:00am - 11:50am


Description: Introductory laboratory investigation of the major principles of biology, including properties of all living things, the unity and diversity of organisms, structure and function of cells, energy and metabolism, genetics, ecology, evolution, and the scientific methods of investigation employed by biologists.


Prerequisites or corequisites: BIO 9, 10, or 20


Text:           Biology 15L Laboratory Manual, Spring 2010 edition

(Available at Copy Central; 925 Howe Ave.)


Course Format/Requirements: This 1-unit laboratory course will meet once a week for three hours.  Students will work in groups to complete laboratory exercises to gain an understanding of the underlying biological concepts.  This course employs a hands-on approach to learning about biology, and participation by each student is required.  Students are also required to come prepared to each lab, having a basic understanding of the biological concepts and procedures for that week’s lab by reading the lab manual BEFORE coming to lab.  At the beginning of each lab the instructor will present an overview of the lab in order to clarify and build upon these biological concepts and procedures.


Evaluation:  Student grades will be based on points earned from quizzes, worksheets, homework assignments, attendance and participation.


At the start of each lab (except the first one) a 10-point quiz will be given to test students’ understanding of the material from the current week as well as the previous week.  Questions for the current week will be based strictly on the concepts and materials found in the laboratory manual, while questions about the previous week will ask students to integrate and apply the concepts explored in the previous lab.  Each student’s lowest quiz score will be thrown out.


Worksheets found in the laboratory manual will accompany each lab.  These worksheets will be used by the students to make predictions, record observations, as well as answer questions about the underlying biology of the lab.  A total of 140 points will come from worksheets.


Throughout the course two writing assignments will be given worth a total of 40 points.  Additionally, 20 subjective points will be given to each student at the outset of the course.  These points will be deducted from if a student shows poor participation in laboratory exercises, is consistently late or unprepared for labs, improperly cleans up their lab bench, etc.


Summary of Points Available

      Lab Quizzes                                         (13 x 10)                      130

      Worksheets                                          (14 x 10)                      140

      Writing Assignments                                                                   40

      Participation                                                                               20

                                                                  Total                            330


Grading:  Final letter grades will be assigned as follows:      

A   90-100%         Outstanding achievement

B    80-89%           Excellent performance; clearly exceeds course requirements

C   70-79%           Meets course requirements

D   60-69%           Passed, but not at average achievement standards

F    < 60%              Failure to meet course requirements


Breaking points for plus and minus grades will be decided at the end of the semester.          


Attendance:  It is mandatory that you attend the laboratories.  Missing two laboratories will lower a student’s grade one letter grade.  Missing three laboratories will result in a WU grade.  If you are late to lab, you may might miss a quiz; NO MAKE-UP quizzes will be given.  If you know ahead of time that you might be absent or late, please let me know, so that we can try to make other arrangements.


Drops or Incompletes:  Students may drop the course online during the first two weeks of class for any reason.  Dropping any day after this requires a documented serious or compelling reason as well as signatures from both the instructor and Department Chair.


Academic Misconduct:  Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.  The first offense will result in a score of zero on  the assignment, and any subsequent offenses may result in failing the course and/or being dismissed from the university.  Academic dishonesty includes two main behaviors.  The first is cheating by copying from someone else or using unauthorized sources of help during a quiz, test, or individual assignment.  The second is plagiarism.  Plagiarism includes using the words or main ideas of another person on a writing assignment without giving him/her credit by a citation.


The most frequent cases of academic dishonesty that occur in this class are when lab mates turn in a homework assignment that has exactly the same wording for some or all of the answers.  You may work together but make sure you write your answers in your own words.  If you are turning in a graph or figure, make sure that YOU made it and it is not just a copy from someone else.  The most common cases of plagiarism involve written work where some of the information is gathered from the internet and then copied and pasted into the student’s work without the student putting quotes around it and citing it.  Even using most of someone else's words with a few words changed and failing to cite the original source constitutes plagiarism.  If you are in doubt about whether or not what you intend to do is plagiarism feel free to ask and/or check the CSUS Library website:



Tentative Laboratory Schedule






January 26


Laboratory Safety

(Laboratory Safety Awareness Verification Form)





February 2


Lab Topic 1: Characteristics of Life




February 9


Lab Topic 2: The Scientific Process




February 16


Lab Topic 3: Enzymes and Biological Molecules




February 23


Lab Topic 4: Observing and Classifying Life




March 2


Lab Topic 5: Pond Water Micro-communities




March 9


Lab Topic 6: Photosynthesis




March 16


Lab Topic 7: Cellular Respiration




March 23


Lab Topic 8: Mitosis and Genetics




March 30


Spring Break--No Lab



April 6


Lab Topic 9: Ecological Footprint




April 13


Lab Topic 10: Human Genetics




April 20


Lab Topic 11: Sensing and Responding to the Environment




April 27


Lab Topic 12: Ecology




May 4


Lab Topic 13: Adaptations




May 11


Lab Topic 14: Natural Selection and Evolution