Janet Stein Carter, Associate Professor of Biology
course #34BIOL114-001, TH 10:30-12:20
Office: room EDU-215-N, phone 732-5313

Office: M & W 12:00-2:00

(or stop in whenever I’m there)
(If I’m not in my office, then check the lab area)

Course Description:

2 undergraduate credits. This non-science majors’ course illustrates the processes, concepts, and principles discussed in General Biology I through investigative activities that emphasize examples from everyday life, keeping a lab notebook, the scientific method, and becoming familiar with the use of computers. Lab exercises include sugar in one’s diet, emulsifying agents, enzymes, photosynthesis, fermentation, cell division, and field hikes to study local organisms. Coreq: Biology 104.

Course Objectives:

This course will illustrate the biological processes, concepts, and theories as discussed in General Biology I with examples from everyday life. The goals will be:

  1. To learn to be observant and to develop and sharpen those observational skills
  2. To discipline yourself to develop the good record-keeping skills needed to be successful in any career you are planning on entering
  3. To learn to think analytically about the observations you have made – to be able to:
    1. analyze a problem and focus on a hypothesis to be tested
    2. determine the best way of testing the hypothesis, including determination of appropriate procedure(s) to follow and meaningful data to be gathered
    3. interpret data and draw conclusions based on these data
  4. To communicate your findings about the processes studied and results obtained in ways appropriate to the biological sciences
  5. To become familiar with the use of computers to gather and analyze data
  6. To be able to identify and to become familiar with the variety of living organisms which occur here in Clermont County

Methods of Reaching These Objectives:

  1. Each lab period, you will participate in the scheduled activity for that day: lab exercise, experiment, nature hike, and/or test. These lab exercises were designed to take two hours each. In order to benefit maximally from these lab activities, you need to plan to spend the whole period working on each lab, and not attempt to rush to finish early. Taking the time to observe closely, be thorough in your work, and take good notes will both yield better data and allow you to better absorb and learn the material, thereby improving your ability to perform well on tests.
  2. You will prepare and maintain a laboratory notebook into which you will put all information and handouts as well as your own notes and analyses. It is expected that you will take the time and put forth the effort necessary to closely observe organisms, lab equipment, etc., in order to include detailed, accurate illustrations in your lab notebook. This notebook will be organized according to a specified format and will serve as a permanent record of your investigations.
  3. You will prepare for class by reading and thinking about the handout(s) provided. From this introduction, you should have a basic understanding of the topic being investigated and the procedures to be followed when you arrive for class.
  4. After you have completed the laboratory exercise, you are expected to spend time analyzing what you did and the significance of your results. These written analyses will be included in your lab notebook in an acceptable format.
  5. For a number of lab exercises, you will be expected to enter your data into a Web page for computer analysis and distribution to all class members.
  6. You will be expected to participate in the scheduled field hikes to learn about native organisms.
  7. Using proper scientific format and a word processor, you may be asked to write a formal lab report for one of the experiments done in lab.

More detailed explanations of these expectations and assignments will be given in a series of handouts and verbal instructions.


Note: If you are taking this course in Winter Quarter, whenever the weather becomes suitable for tapping the maple trees (highs in 40 to 50° F range and lows below freezing, preferably below 20° F, often early- to mid-Feb.) we will be going out to tap the trees for sap. In all quarters, weather permitting, we will be spending time outdoors studying local flora and fauna. Thus, this schedule may be altered to accommodate rain (or tree tapping weather). Tests, quizzes, and other due dates will be at the stated times unless an announcement to the contrary is specifically made beforehand. Due to the weather during Winter Quarter, we will probably not be taking many hikes until near the end of the quarter. However, if the weather is really nice, we may decide to go out. As these may be last-minute decisions based on the weather, please make sure you have warm clothing (and boots) available for your use and that these are suitable for hiking through brambles and/or mud and/or poison ivy. Due to various safety regulations, long pants and sturdy boots/shoes are mandatory for field hikes. Inappropriately-dressed students will not be permitted to participate in lab activities and will, thus, not have notes for any lab(s) missed. It is not anticipated that most of the hikes this quarter will be extremely strenuous, however people with hypoglycemia, diabetes, and/or asthma should plan ahead and come prepared to deal with any possible reactions they might have.

In the event that all classes are canceled due to inclement weather, UC will make that information available via the local media and via other means. In the event that classes are not canceled, but I cannot make it in due to weather or illness, I will send an e-mail message to all students for whom I have e-mail addresses. If you wish to receive that notification, please provide me with an e-mail address for an account which you check regularly.

Autumn Quarter Schedule


Grades will be determined based on the total of the points from the two quizzes (50 pt. each), midterm (200 pt.), final (200 pt.), formal lab report (100 pt.), and notebook gradings, (2 at 200 pt. each), plus points from any unannounced “pop” quizzes, thus a total of approximately 1000 points will be possible. A histogram (curve) of the total scores will be constructed and analyzed using statistical methods. In general, the class mean will serve as the dividing line between “B” and “C” scores, and only those students whose scores are above the mean plus one standard deviation unit, thereby demonstrating superior mastery of the material covered, will receive an “A.” An “F” will be given when an individual repeatedly scores at the bottom of the class and shows blatant disregard for good study habits and class attendance. Ten percent (10%) of the total possible points will be deducted per class period for late assignments (notebooks, papers, etc.). As stated in the Making and Keeping a Lab Notebook protocol, “No books abandoned in my mailbox will be considered as turned in, nor will they be graded – your portion of the grade sheet must be filled out and turned in with the notebook.” Any student who stops attending class and does not go through the official withdrawal process will be given the grade of “UW” – unofficial withdrawal – the equivalent of an “F.” Grades will be awarded based on a straight A-B-C-D-F grading scale.

I realize that there are some medical conditions which, legitimately, can preclude a student from having an equal chance to learn in this course. A very obvious example would be a student who had trouble hearing me speak, thus was at a great disadvantage because (s)he would miss what I was saying in lecture. However, other, more subtle, conditions such as ADD and dyslexia can also adversely affect an equally-intelligent student’s opportunity to obtain information and/or communicate to me that (s)he has learned the needed material. It is not “unfair” to anyone to make arrangements to compensate for such medical conditions, but rather, this can help insure that such people have an equal chance at doing well in this course. Obviously, however, such students would still have to demonstrate that, given reasonable accommodations, they are capable of mastering the required material. Thus, students who need some type of accommodations in order to “level the playing field” and put them on a par with the rest of the class should speak with me now, not after grades have suffered.

Tests and Quizzes:

There will be two quizzes worth 50 pts. each and a midterm and final worth 200 pts. each plus a possible number of 10-pt. “pop” quizzes to insure that you are reading the lab protocols before lab. Make-up tests will be given only in the event of a valid excuse, and must be taken promptly. Fieldtests and pop quizzes cannot be made up. Tests will cover material from each lab session that is included, and grades will not be adjusted for any labs that you miss – “I wasn’t there” is not a valid excuse.

Students who miss a test should make arrangements to make it up BEFORE the next class period. Requests to make up tests after the tests have been returned and discussed will be denied unless a student has a valid excuse (such as a doctor’s note). Optionally, a more difficult make-up test may be written (but graded on the same curve as everyone else). Only one test may be made up late, and then only with a valid excuse. If more than one test is missed, subsequent tests will receive a “zero.” This means that if you skip one test because you “don’t feel like it,” then miss a second test due to illness, you have used up your one chance and will receive a “zero” on the second test. It has been my experience that students who don’t take a test on time because they think they need more time to study end up doing no better (if not worse) when they do finally take the test. There will be a 10% per class period penalty for a late test.

Required Equipment:

  1. A bound 10 × 7⅞ inch composition notebook with graph rulings (available in the bookstore). All notes taken during lab must be entered DIRECTLY into this notebook.
  2. A BLACK, water- and solvent-proof pen, such as “Pilot Precise®” (Extra Fine tip), “Tombow Roll Pen, Jr.®” or Rapidiograph, which writes with indelible (waterproof) ink. Water-soluble markers, ballpoint pen (which is soluble in alcohol, etc.), and felt-tips which “bleed” through the page are NOT acceptable.
  3. Clear contact paper to mount handouts, specimens, etc. into lab notebook (see protocol).

Optional Resources and Equipment:

  1. While your primary drawings should be done with your lab pen, you may wish to have on hand a set of colored pencils with which to indicate color(s) of specimens. Magic markers which bleed through the page are not suitable.
  2. The following book may aid you in learning how to write like a biologist:

    Pechenik, Jan A. 1993. A Short Guide to Writing about Biology. 2nd. Ed. HarperCollins College Publ., New York. (available in the bookstore)

  3. A field guide to local birds such as:

    Peterson, Roger Tory. (current edition). The Peterson Field Guide Series: A Field Guide to the Birds. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. (available in bookstore)

    Zim, Herbert S. and Ira M. Gabrielson. (current edition). A Golden Nature Guide to Birds. Simon and Schuster, New York. (available in bookstore)

    Wood, Jessie, ed. 1983. How to Attract Birds. Ortho Books div. Chevron Chem. Co., San Francisco.

    or other similar book(s) of your choice.

  4. A variety of field guides to trees, insects, wildflowers, fossils, birds, etc. is available in the bookstore, and similar books are available from other local bookstores and the Cincinnati Nature Center. Although not required, you should purchase those in which you have an interest. If there are field guides you do not wish to purchase, you may wish to make arrangements to share, borrow, or otherwise have access to them for field use.
  5. Other materials may be needed for certain lab exercises. Such items are listed in the schedule and/or will be announced as needed.

Some Important, Related Links:

Other Things to Include in Your Notebook

Make sure you have all of the following in your lab notebook:

Copyright © 1997 by J. Stein Carter. All rights reserved.
This page has been accessed Counter times since 14 Mar 2001.