Biology Department Biology 10 Frog
Instructor Home Course Home Course Syllabus Handouts / Downloads Study Guides Links

General Course Info Lab Info Pre-Labs resources Course Books Grades

Biology 10 Lecture Syllabus - General

Welcome to Biology 10! Please read through the following information carefully. In this syllabus you will find descriptions of what you can expect from this course, from me as your instructor, and perhaps most important, what is expected of you.

Instructor: Mr. Nathan Norris
Office: SM 55E
Phone: (408) 741-2634
E-mail: page created by Nathan Norris Click to Contact

As your instructor I am here to facilitate your education by (1) presenting you with the material that you need to learn, and (2) by assisting you in your learning of the material. I will try to make it fun and I will do everything I can to help you, however, I cannot learn it for you - that is your responsibility. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. With effort you will learn and be successful - the effort, however, is up to you.

General Course Info | Texts | Objectives | Nature of the Course | Evaluation | Grading
Academic Dishonesty | Attendance | Dropping | Miscellaneous Notes | Tips for Success | Student Resources on Campus

General Course Information (return to top of page)

Biology 10 is a four (4) unit, semester length lecture and laboratory course. You must be enrolled in both a lecture and a laboratory to complete this course. It is designed to meet general education lab science requirements and is accepted for credit by the University of California and the California State Universities (note: if you plan to transfer it is your responsibility to confirm with the transfer institution that this course meets their requirements, they have the final say).

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to many of the fundamental concepts in biology. The basic knowledge of biology gained from this course will allow you to make educated decisions about health related issues, environmental issues, and a variety of other biological issues that will likely come up during your life. To do this we will cover a tremendous amount of material over the semester. As a transferable course the academic rigor that students will be held accountable for will be comparable to a "university level" introductory biology course, however, it need not be overwhelming. The material will be presented from the perspective of this being the first college biology course you have ever taken.

Lectures will introduce you to the principles of biological study and our current understanding of biology while lab activities are designed to provide hands-on exploration of the topics discussed in the lecture. Each laboratory covers one or more key topics from your lectures using materials for you to observe and/or use in experiments. The lectures and the labs are designed to complement each other and combined will provide you with a richer understanding of the world of biology.

The pursuit of understanding in biology, and the sciences in general, may be thought of as an ongoing process. The breadth of biological knowledge is continually growing and changing as new observations are made. What is thought to be understood today may be shown to be incomplete tomorrow. As such biology requires you to keep an open mind, to think and ask questions, as you will see in the weeks to follow. Much of what we will talk about you probably have or will experience at some point your life. Think about what you have observed and have confidence in what you know. Throughout the course you will find that biology is a science based on observation, a skill that you will be encouraged to refine during this course.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. However, students are expected to read and write at the college level and know enough mathematics to use and understand graphs and charts.

Note: If you have a learning or physical need that will require special accommodations in this class you will need to notify me in writing of your accommodation needs. West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should notify the Disability and Educational Support Program (DESP) at 741-2010 or (TTY 741-2658) of any special needs.

Texts and Support Materials (return to top of page)


Sylvia S. Mader. Biology. 10th ed. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York, NY, 2010.
ISBN 978-0-07-352543-3

    Biology Department. Biology 10 - Laboratory Manual. 5th ed., Wiley Custom Services.


Griffin, Robert D. Biology Coloring Book. HarperResource, New York, NY.
      ISBN: 0-064-60307-5

Borror, Donald. Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. Mayfield Publishing Co. Palo Alto, CA.
      ISBN: 0-874-84053-8

Web Pages :   

The text (Mader) will be an important reference for the material covered in this class. It is important that you read the assignments prior to coming to class and I strongly recommended that you bring your textbook to class each day. You will also find the questions at the end of each chapter helpful in preparing for the exams and quizzes.

In addition to the text you must purchase a current copy of the Biology 10 Laboratory Manual and bring it to lab every day. This manual is revised every year so be sure you have the correct version. You must have a manual by the second lab meeting and bring it to lab every day. Be sure to read through the lab prior to coming to class.

Purchasing Course Books:
  • West Valley Campus Bookstore: You can Purchase all of the books listed in the greensheet directly from the bookstore located on West Valley campus. The bookstore also provides an online service in case you do not want to go there in person (WVC bookstore). You can reserve the books to pick them up later or make arrangements for home delivery. Note: bookstore profits help fund the campus center - purchasing your books from the campus bookstore will help support the campus center.
  • Ordering online (new or used): I am aware that book prices are high and that this can place an undue burden on student budgets. One option to save money is to order books online from discount suppliers. The down side to this option is that, depending on the vendor, it can take several days, or possibly weeks, for your books to arrive, and you will need the "required books" on the first day of class. Consequently, unless you have ordered your books several weeks in advance, this option may better serve you for the purchase of the "recommended and optional books" listed in your syllabus.  The following online vendors may prove to be good resources:  
  • Other Local Bookstores: A less commonly successful but useful alternate is to search the local new and used bookstores in the area (including other campus bookstores) for the books you need. I have periodically found useful resource books at a significant discount at used bookstores.
Several options are available to you.

Course Objectives (return to top of page)

The topics covered in this course provide an introduction to the basic concepts and everyday problems in the biological sciences. The objectives of the course are to assist each student to:
  1. Understand how the living and non-living environment are interrelated.
  2. Understand how the human body functions.
  3. Understand how cells function.
  4. Understand the principles of heredity.
  5. Be able to make informed decisions on biological issues that effect your life.

These are very broad goals that encompass a great variety of topics. The topics that have been selected for discussion in this course are listed on the schedule found in this handout. If other topics are of interest to you please feel free to discuss them with me. Suggestions of additional topics are welcome. Every effort will be made to make this class as useful to you as possible.

Nature of the Course (return to top of page)


During lecture the concepts of Biology presented in the textbook will be discussed, and expanded on where appropriate. Although this portion of the course will follow a traditional lecture format, questions and class participation are encouraged. If, during the lecture you have a question raise your hand and I will try to get to you (If you don't understand something it is likely that others don't also). Asking questions not only ensures that you get the information you need, it also can help create a more dynamic and interesting lecture. Your participation, in effect, can enhance the lecture and your interest in the course.

To best prepare for each class meeting it is expected that you read through the assigned reading in your text and/or supplementary material prior to the class meeting time and that you take good notes. To assist you with this you will be provided with lecture outlines with study questions to use as a guide to the assigned reading and to the lectures. Lecture outlines used effectively can be a beneficial study aid. I highly recommend that you use the lecture outlines and answer all of the study questions. Lecture outlines are available online at:

If you feel it will be helpful you may tape the lectures, however, I have found that students who tape the lectures often do not listen as attentively and must spend additional time listening to the taped lecture again. Your time would most likely be better spent reading the assigned material and studying your notes rather than listening to a lecture you have already heard. If you do choose to tape the lectures, DO NOT substitute the tapes for attentive participation and note taking in class.

Finally, be considerate of other students in the class. Please turn off cell phones & pagers and refrain from talking during the lecture (other than to ask questions). Even minor disturbances can significantly impact the ability of others to concentrate on the lecture and such behavior is inappropriate for a college level course


Our current understanding of biology comes primarily from laboratory and field investigation. While lectures will introduce you to the principles of biological study and understanding, lab activities are designed to allow you hands-on exposure to many of the topics discussed in the lecture. Each laboratory will cover one or more key topics from your lectures using materials for you to observe and/or use in experiments. At the end of each lab you will be expected to answer the questions in your laboratory manual based on what you learn from your reading and lectures, what you observe and record in lab, and from your own experience.

Thoughtful, disciplined hands on work in the lab is often the most effective method for learning biology, in fact for most students this is where things start to make sense. How much you gain from this depends on your involvement and participation.

It is expected that you read through the lab activities and any assigned reading prior to the lab. This will enable you to get the most out of the lab (and possibly finish sooner). You can even start to answer some of the questions before coming to lab. Note that these lab reports are intended to serve as your guide to understanding important principles and to support and reinforce what is presented in lecture. Thus it is to your advantage to make every effort to understand the material and thoroughly answer the questions. Working as a group with the other students at your table is encouraged

For more information about the laboratory see the biology departments Biology 10 Laboratory web page.

Note: Eating, drinking, and smoking within the lab room is strictly prohibited. No visitors in the lab.

Evaluation (return to top of page)

Lecture: the points you earn in lecture will account for 75% of your grade

There will be eight (8) quizzes given during the lecture (usually at the start of lecture). Tentative quiz dates are indicated on the schedule. The quiz questions are primarily multiple choice with some fill-in questions and will cover all material presented in class since the preceding quiz. Note that quizzes will allow you to determine how well you understand the material before the exam is given. If you are doing poorly on the quizzes be sure to request help before the exam. Note: your one lowest quiz score will be thrown out.

Misc. Assignments:
Several short 5-10 point problems will be assigned at random times throughout the semester. These problems will often be completed during class and cannot be made up.

There are three non-comprehensive exams and one comprehensive final (approximately 70% new material and 30% comprehensive) that will be given during the lecture. The dates of these exams are listed on the schedule. The exam questions are primarily multiple choice with some fill-in questions and will cover all material presented in the class. You will have the entire lecture period to complete the exams. Please bring a scantron (form #882) and #2 pencils to each exam. They can be purchased at the bookstore.

Warning: DO NOT miss an exam! Make up exams are NOT normally offered. To qualify for a make up exam you must contact the instructor immediately and provide a documented reason for missing the exam (i.e. doctors note). At the instructors discretion a make up exam may or may not be offered. Missing an exam will most likely result in failure of the course. No exams will be dropped.

Exam Guidelines:
  • Arrive early so that you may start the exam on time.
  • Bring all items needed for the exam with you (scantron #882, an eraser and #2 pencils).
  • Turn cell phones and pagers off and put them away.
  • Put all materials not needed for the exam (i.e. books, binders, notes and other loose materials) away inside your backpack. Put your closed pack out of view under your seat or at the front of the room. Leave anything you don't want in the classroom in your car.
  • Sit far apart (i.e. in the lecture hall sit in every other row).
  • You may not leave the room for any reason once the exam has started. Use the restroom before the exam starts. If you must leave the room you must turn in your exam and forfeit your remaining time.
  • Once the first person leaves the room, no latecomers will be admitted to take the exam.
  • Cheating will result in a zero on the exam and probable expulsion from the class.
  • Put your name and exam form number on both your exam form and your scantron (#882).
  • You may write on your exam.
  • READ the questions! If you don't  understand a question, ASK.
  • Erase mistakes completely.

Extra Credit:
Extra credit assignments are not offered. If you are not performing as well as you would like, increasing your workload with extra credit assignments will not help. If you are having trouble please come see me and we can discuss possible learning strategies that may help.

Laboratory: the points you earn in lab will account for 25% of your grade

Laboratory scores are typically based on three things; quizzes, pre-labs, and lab reports. Although the precise nature of the lab evaluations may vary somewhat between lab instructors, lab scores will count towards 25% of your course grade.

Grading (return to top of page)

You are not entitled to a passing grade, you must earn it. You will be graded based on how well you do, not on how hard you work. Effort is expected, not rewarded. Your course grade will be based on lecture and lab points earned (actual point values may vary).

Lecture Point Breakdown (example): Points:   Note: Exact point values may vary
  Quizzes (10 points each)  . . . . . . . . . . 70  
  Misc. Assignments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25   Points earned will be converted
  Midterm Exams (3 at 125 pts. each) . . 375   to a percentage score as follows:
  Final Exam (comprehensive) . . . . . . . .   150   (pts. earned / pts. possible) x 100 = %
  Total Lec Points Possible: . . . . . . . . . . 620  

The percentage of the total points possible that you earn in the lecture will be combined with your laboratory percentage to determine your course grade as follows:

(0.75 x lec percent) + (0.25 x lab percent) = course percentage

Example: assume you earn 72% of the possible points in lecture and 88% in lab.

(0.75 x 72%) + (0.25 x 88%) = 54% + 22% = 76% ("C")

Note: because the lecture is weighted more heavily than the lab, your lecture score will more closely approximate the final grade that you will earn.

Your final course grade will be based on the following scale:

A (90-100%), B (80-89%), C (65-79%), D (55-65%), F (below 55%)

Warning: failure of the lab will automatically result in failure of the course.

Academic Dishonesty (return to top of page)

The college policy on cheating is clearly spelled out in the college catalogue and will be strictly enforced. Use of any method other than your knowledge and memory (such as notes, looking on other students papers, communication between students etc...) to answer questions on an exam or quiz constitutes cheating and will result in failure of that exam or quiz and/or failure of the course. Such behavior is disrespectful of other students and more importantly, of yourself. No dictionaries of any kind may be used during the exams or quizzes.

Attendance (return to top of page)

It is your responsibility to attend ALL class meetings. Class will start on time and last the entire time. It is expected that you are present at the start of class and attend the entire period. Your success depends on your attending regularly, taking good notes and studying. Please do not schedule appointments during scheduled class time or plan on leaving early. Unexcused absences may result in a loss of points and/or failure of the course. Failure to attend the equivalent of 10% or more of class (more than 3 lectures or 3 labs) for ANY reason may result in disqualification from the course (i.e. failure).

It is critical that you come to class prepared, having read the assigned material ahead of time, and that you take good notes. Failure to attend lecture or lab will result in missing announcements and valuable information that may not be covered in the text. Reading the text alone will not substitute for attendance. Students who attend, take good notes and study, have a good chance of doing well in this course.

Dropping (return to top of page)

If you decide to drop the course it is up to you to fill out the appropriate paperwork and inform the instructor. Do not assume that if you stop coming to class that you will automatically be dropped. Students who fail to attend but do not inform the instructor and officially drop the course will receive a failing grade.

Miscellaneous Notes (return to top of page)

CELL PHONES: Due to the disruptive nature of cell phones and pagers all cell phones and pagers should be turned off while in class. If for some reason you must leave your cell phone on please switch it to silent mode and leave the room before answering it. Note: ringing cell phones and/or pagers may result in failure of quizzes or exams. Cell phones must be off during quizzes and exams. If, for any reason, you answer a cell phone during a quiz or exam you must turn in your quiz and forfeit your remaining time.

NON-SMOKING POLICY: It is the policy of the District to provide a safe learning and working environment for students and employees. It is the intent of the District to provide a smoke-free environment to the greatest extent possible. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor locations within the District. Smoking is prohibited in all areas of the Mission and West Valley campuses except in parking lot areas that are at least twenty five (25) feet away from buildings and pathways.

UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATION / SEXUAL HARASSMENT: If you have a complaint or someone has shared information with you as a student or employee that is unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources at West Valley-Mission Community College District, Human Resources Department, (408-741-2060).  If the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources is not available, contact the President of the college in which you attend or are employed.  For West Valley College, contact the office of Dr. Lori Gaskin at 408-741-2668.

Tips For Success (return to top of page)

Everyone can succeed in this course. To do so you must make the effort. You must be willing to work hard. This includes attending regularly, coming to class prepared, asking questions when you don't understand, taking good notes... in general, developing good study habits. These skills can be developed. If you don't have these skills the instructor may be able to help.

Each student must find what works best for them, however, some hints may be helpful. These include reading the assignments prior to coming to lecture. During the lecture take notes on your own paper, not on the outline supplied. After the lecture (not the night before the exam) sit down with your notes, the book (pay particular attention to the figures), and the outline. Review the terminology (you will learn lots of new terms) and fill in the blanks on the outline from both your notes and the text - if it is not on the outline don't emphasize it. Upon completion you will have created a comprehensive study outline to use when reviewing for the exam. Finally, once you feel comfortable with the material get together with a small study group and go over it. Answer the questions at the end of the chapter. If you can explain ideas, concepts and terms to another student, you will be well prepared for an exam.

Remember - if you prepare, attend each class, do the work, and study there is no reason why you cannot earn a good grade. Please do not hesitate to talk to me if you have any questions or comments. I am here to help. I want you to be successful in this course.

For more information on study skills click here.

Student Resources on Campus (return to top of page)

As a registered student you have a host of resources on campus that are available to you, many free of charge. The following is a partial list (for a complete list please refer to the college catalogue or the student services section of the college web page).

Admissions and Records
- Apply for Admissions (online)
- Register for Classes (408) 741-TREG

Health Services (408) 741-2027
- provides limited medical treatment, health assessment, counseling and referrals

Tutorial Services (408) 741-2038
- tutoring is available without charge to students in academic and/or vocational subjects

Financial Aid (408) 741-2024
- program to assist eligible students in meeting education costs while attending school

Counseling Center (408) 741-2009
- provides academic, career and personal counseling for students

Disability & Educational Support Program (DESP) (408) 741-2010
- program to integrate students with disabilities into classes and equalize educational opportunities

Educational Transition (ET) for Women and Men (408) 741-2022
- program for adults who are returning to continue or begin their education

Extended opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS) (408) 741-2023
- support services for students who have historically experienced language, social, financial barriers

Technology Center (408) 741-2666
- computers with internet access are available, requires a nominal fee of $5-10 per semester

West Valley Collegepage created by Nathan Norris Click to Contact
updated: 1
6 June 2010