Teach the Earth > Course Design > Course Goals/Syllabus Database > Biological Discovery: Observation and Experimentation

Biological Discovery: Observation and Experimentation

Suzanne Conklin
,
sconklin@ric.edu

Rhode Island College
a
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate
.

Summary

This is a course for biology or general science majors that focuses on the primary and secondary scientific literature as a means to gain a deep understanding of the process of science and how we know what we know in biology.

Course URL:
Resource Type: Course Information:Goals/Syllabi
Course Size:

15-30

Course Context:

This is an optional upper-level course for biology majors and general science majors.

Course Goals:

  • Students will be able to synthesize primary scientific and secondary biographical and historical sources in order to explain how historically significant experiments and observations advance the field of biology.
  • Students will be able to analyze the design of an experiment in order to identify the features that enable it provide interpretable results.


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will work with primary scientific literature with increasing independence to analyze experimental design and the features of good/interpretable experiments. Students will study historical accounts to learn about the context in which significant advancements in biology were made. A sizable portion of this course will be taught online, where thoughtful discussion will be required. A culminating term project will give students an opportunity to synthesize information from various sources and demonstrate that they have met the stated goals.

Skills Goals

  • Accessing professional literature.
  • Reading, interpreting primary scientific literature.
  • Written communication, including editing of peer writing.


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will be assessed on various writing assignments that will build in complexity as the course progresses using writing rubrics. They will be required to demonstrate their mastery of biological concepts through visual and written communication.

Attitudinal Goals

  • improving student confidence at reading primary scientific literature
  • improving students depth of understanding of basic biological concepts


How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students will reflect on their own learning to assess changes in attitudinal goals.

Assessment

Writing rubrics, concept sketch rubrics, discussion forum checks, quizzes.

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