Bio150 2015: Syllabus

Here’s my syllabus (PDFdocx) for Bio150. This course is taught in parallel by multiple instructors: we have a shared set of topics to teach, and the same textbook, but then it is up to each instructor to develop her or his section. Mine this semester has 235 students. I will do a mixture of active learning, traditional lecturing, and other activities. In the past I had students use an app I wrote to find local species; this semester I am moving to use iNaturalist instead. I have created a project for students to populate with six observations each. They must observe:

  • A fungus
  • A vertebrate that is not a rodent or bird
  • An insect
  • An invertebrate that is not an insect
  • An angiosperm
  • A plant that is not an angiosperm

Grading 1410 observations will be a bit daunting, but I’m planning to use rOpenSci‘s rinat (written by Vijay Barve and Edmund Hart) to help with that.
I’m also banning laptops or other electronic devices for note taking (except for documented accommodations, of course). I include the justification for this in the syllabus: Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), which shows that retention is far better with hand-written notes than with a laptop (leaving aside all the distractions from things that aren’t note taking that one can do on a laptop).
I also suggest that students try to see some of BBC’s great recent nature documentaries (Planet Earth, Life, Blue Planet) but did not add a Netflix subscription as a requirement — college is expensive enough.