Biology 47 Course Syllabus - General

Welcome to Biology 47! For many of you this will be your first comprehensive introduction to the structure of the human body. 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. Please read through the following information carefully..

Instructor: Mr. Nathan Norris
Office: SM 55E
Phone: (408) 741-2634
E-mail: 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 | Student Learning Outcomes | 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 47 is a five (5) unit, semester length lecture and laboratory course. It is designed to satisfy the anatomy requirements for degrees in Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Human Performance, Nutrition, Dental Hygiene, and others. It is acceptable for credit by the University of California and the California State Universities (caution: if you plan to transfer it is your responsibility to confirm with the transfer institution/program to which you wish to transfer that this course meets the programs requirements, they have the final say). As a transferable course the academic rigor of the course will be comparable to a “university level” undergraduate human anatomy course. Although you will be held accountable for meeting this standard, it need not be overwhelming. The material will be presented from the perspective of this being the first college anatomy course you have ever taken. You will be challenged, but you can be successful.

The study of human anatomy involves the exploration of both microscopic and gross structure of human organ systems. The fundamentals of anatomy will be introduced through lectures and laboratory demonstrations. Students will complete their exploration through hands on examination of laboratory materials using microscopes, models, cadavers and cat dissection. You will find that there is a lot to learn, and it will be difficult, but I hope you will find it as exciting as I do.

Prerequisites: Completion of a high school or college biology course with a grade of C or better. However, students are expected to read and write at the college level and know enough mathematics to use and understand charts and graphs.

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)


Martini, F.H., M.J. Timmons and R. B. Tallitsch. Human Anatomy, Pearson Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco. (note: older editions and alternate texts may be acceptable, check with the instructor. The version available in theWest Valley College bookstore will include an access code for an online study resource called Mastering Biology which is included free but is not required for this course).

Norris, N. Biology 47: Human Anatomy Course Manual, West Valley College Biology Department. (note: The lab manual is required for the lab and is only available from the West Valley College bookstore).

Recommended Materials (most are available at the WVC Bookstore):

Recommended materials include a three ring binder (2") to hold and organize all of your materials, colored pens & pencils, post-it notes, a medical dictionary, and anatomy atlases and/or coloring books (several are listed below). A lab coat or protective clothes are suggested for lab dissections (shared lab coats are provided in lab). Some students have also found face masks desirable for use in lab.

Van De Graaf, K.M. and J.L. Crawley. A Photographic Atlas for the Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory, Morton Publishing Co., Englewood, CO. (any edition is okay)

Alcamo, Edward. The Princton Review: Anatomy Coloring Workbook. Random House, Inc., New York, NY. (any edition is okay)

Borror, Donald. Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. Mayfield Publishing Co. Palo Alto, CA. (any edition is okay)

Note: DO NOT purchase recommended or optional resources until you have determined that they will be useful to you. Several of these recommended resources will be available to review in the lab.


Gosling, J.A. et al.  Human Anatomy: Color Atlas and Text. Mosby-Wolfe Publishing Co., London.

Kapit, W. and L.M. Elison. The Anatomy Coloring Book, Harper Collins Publishing Co., New York, NY.

Goldberg, Steven. Clinical Anatomy Made Ridiculously Simple. MedMaster, Inc. Miami, Fl.

Siegfried, Donna Rae. Anatomy & Physiology for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. New York, NY.

Pack, Phillip. CliffsQuickReview Anatomy and Physiology. Wiley Publishing, Inc. New York, NY.

Essential Anatomy (software). Visit the "3D4Medical" website by following the link below to learn more:

Visible Body: 3D Human Anatomy (software). Visit the "Visible Body" website by following the link below to learn more:

Web Pages:

Course Web Page:

Note: your best learning resources are the materials in the lab, your textbooks and your instructor, use them all to your advantage and ask questions!

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.

Student Learning Outcomes (return to top of page)

This course is intended to provide the student with a fundamental understanding of the structure of the human body.  Upon successful completion of this course it is expected that the student will be able to:
    a. Identify specific tissue types based on observable microscopic characteristics,
    b. Locate and identify major skeletal muscles in the human cadaver and infer the actions of these muscles,
    c. Describe the relationship between anatomical structures and physiological function.

Nature of the Course (return to top of page)

The Human Anatomy class meets for 9 hours each week, 3 hours are scheduled for lecture while 6 hours are devoted to lab activities. The amount of time you spend in and outside of class will, in large part, determine how well you do in the course. In addition to the scheduled class meetings plan on spending time in the library and biology building reviewing laboratory material (SM 55F is available for study). To get the most out of this class you should plan on devoting as much as 20-25 hours a week to studying anatomy (in and out of class).


During lecture the concepts of Human Anatomy presented in the textbook will be discussed, and expanded on where appropriate. Although this portion of the course will follow a 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 can also help create a more dynamic and interesting lecture. Your participation, in effect, can enhance 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, paying particular attention to the figures in the text, and that you take good notes. To assist you with this you will be provided with lecture outlines to use as a guide to the assigned reading, the lectures and the material you are expected to learn. Lecture outlines are available on the downloads page of this website. Lecture outlines used effectively can be a beneficial study aid and are highly recommended. Generally you will not need to bring your textbook to class, however, you might find it beneficial to have it available.

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 may 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. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated.


The lab is an extremely integral and important part of this course. The principle reason for laboratory work in anatomy, as in other disciplines, is to become personally involved in the subject through hands on experience. Just as it is important to prepare ahead of time for each lecture, it is equally if not more important to prepare for each lab. 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. The activities and materials presented in lab are intended to enhance your understanding of important principles so it is to your advantage to be as thorough as possible. You will need to bring your lab manual to every class.

Thoughtful, disciplined hands on work in the lab is often the most effective method for learning anatomy, in fact for most students this is where things start to make sense. Plan on spending a significant amount of time in lab (minimum 6 hours per week) and in the biology building reviewing anatomy materials each week. Working as a group and/or individually, you will physically explore the structure of the human body through the use of microscopes, models and diagrams, preserved specimens, cadavers, and cat dissections. How much you gain from this depends on your involvement and participation. Inter-table interaction is strongly recommended.

At the end of the lab please be sure that all materials are clean and put away, and that the tables are wiped down. Please leave the laboratory as clean or cleaner than it was when you came in. The following guidelines may be helpful:

  1. clean, rinse and dry all dissection instruments
  2. clean lab tables with a damp sponge and disinfectant
  3. dispose of all waste IN THE APPROPRIATE CONTAINERS
  4. turn off all electrical equipment (coil cords and put away as appropriate)
  5. wipe off any equipment that is soiled (unplug first)

Note:  Eating, drinking, and smoking within the lab room is strictly prohibited. These are health and safety issues – violations may result in loss of points or removal from the lab. No visitors are allowed in the lab.

Evaluation (return to top of page)


There will be twelve (12) quizzes given (usually at the start of lecture) covering all material (lecture and lab) since the previous quiz. Tentative quiz dates are indicated with a "Q" on the schedule. Quizzes will include true/false, multiple choice, fill-in, short essay, and identification questions. Be sure to attend regularly, quizzes cannot be made up under any circumstances, however only the top ten quiz scores are counted towards your grade (the lowest two quizzes are automatically dropped).

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.


There will be five (5) non-comprehensive practical exams during the lab and one comprehensive final practical exam (approximately 60-70% new material and 30-40% comprehensive). The dates of these exams are listed on the schedule. The practical exams consist of true/false, multiple choice, short answer, fill-in and identification questions (with displays at multiple stations that you will need to be able to identify, name, describe and/or explain) and will cover all material from both the lecture and the lab.

Please bring a scantron (form #882), an eraser and #2 pencils to each exam. They can be purchased at the Bookstore. No practical 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, #2 pencils and an eraser).
  • Turn cell phones 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 failure of the course.
  •  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.

Warning:  DO NOT miss an exam! Due to the difficulty of setting up practical exams these exams cannot be made up. Only rarely, under extreme conditions, are make-up exams given. 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 and convenience a make up exam may (or may not) be offered. If given, make up exams may include oral and/or essay components. Exams cannot be made up after grades have been posted (usually the week after the exam). All assignments must be completed in order to successfully complete the course.


Several short activities will be assigned at random times throughout the semester. These activities will vary in format but will rarely be worth more than 5-10 points. Some assignments will be completed during class while others will be take home activities. Missed and/or late assignments cannot be made up.


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 alterations in your current study practices that may help.


Participation shall be evaluated through attendance records and periodic checks of lab activities. Some ways in which to lose participation points are 1) violation of lab procedures, 2) leaving the lab work area in disarray or dirty, 3) demonstration of continued lack of preparation for lab, 4) failure to complete lab activities, and 5) poor attendance. Note: gross lack of participation may result in additional point loss (see attendance section).

Grading (return to top of page)

Your grade will be determined by the number of points you earn, not on how hard you work. Effort is expected, not rewarded. However, you are not in competition with other students, your course grade will be based on the total number of points you earn from the following:  

Point Breakdown (estimate) Points:  
Note: Exact point values may vary
Quizzes (best 10 at 20 points each): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   200   Points earned will be converted
Practical Exams (5 exams at 100-125 points each): . . . . . .   600   to a percentage score as follows:
Misc. Assignments: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     25   (pts. earned / pts. possible) x 100 = %
Participation: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     25
Final Exam (150 points, comprehensive): . . . . . . . . . . . . .   150
Total Points Possible: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1000

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

Letter Grade
Percent Total Points
A 90-100% 900 - 1000
B 80-89% 800 - 899
C 65-79% 650 - 799
D 55-64% 550 - 649
F below 55% less than 550

Periodically I will post your grades. This gives you the opportunity to confirm where you stand in the course, if you are missing any work or if I have made any errors recording your grades. Be sure to look it over. If you have any questions regarding any grade you receive and/or the grading method please feel free to talk to me. Note: you will need to provide a "secret identity" for posting of your grade. Remember, you are not entitled to a passing grade, you must earn it…make the effort and you can be successful.

Recommendation: Review and keep all returned assignments. Record earned scores on the "grade tracker" worksheet to keep abreast of your progress in the course:

Note:  Because of the importance of the lab, credit by examination is not possible. In rare instances, if unforeseen circumstances prevent your completion of the course, an incomplete grade may be given by arrangement with the instructor. In accordance with school policy, the incomplete must be made up within one year following the semester in which the incomplete is given. This course may be taken again if the final grade is a D or an F.

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 probable 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% of the labs (approx. 3 lab meetings) for ANY reason may result in disqualification from the course (i.e. failure).

It is critical to your success 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. At the same time, do not assume that you will not be dropped if you miss multiple class meetings. Caution: students who fail to attend and inform the instructor that they are dropping will receive a failing grade if they are not officially dropped.

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: West Valley College is a Smoke Free Campus and we thank you for honoring the college policy and supporting a healthy campus! Smoking is prohibited on campus with the exception of the numbered parking lots around the perimeter of College Circle. FREE and Confidential Smoking Cessation Support, including Nicotine patches and gum, is available in Student Health Services, No Butts About It!

WVC has a mass notification system which informs all college users of emergencies via the mode you select (e.g., text, cell phone, email, work phone, home phone). Please sign up at:

Get a jump on Managing Stress by seeking tips on:
Getting Good Sleep; Ideas for "Brain" Food and Eating Well; Time Management, Concentration and Test-Taking Strategies; Realistic Relaxation Breaks. Have concerns about a fellow student? Confidential consultation is available. Where? Student Health and many other on-campus Support Resources!

If you experience an accident while on campus the College requires the following:
Claim must be filed within 90 days of the incident - a specific form needs to be completed!
Claimant's own insurance plan is considered Primary; District Plan is only used after the primary plan Claimants are expected to pay a $50 deductible (Athletes may pay a higher deductible)
Maximum benefit is $50,000 per injury (Athletes may receive higher maximum benefit)
Maximum time allowance for submitting claims is one year from date of incident
Questions? Contact Health Services @ 741-2027

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).

Tips For Success (return to top of page)

There is a lot of information to be learned in this class and how you utilize your time will greatly influence how much you learn.  Everyone can succeed in this course.  However, 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 provide some suggestions.

Be aware that there is a lot of information to be learned in this class and how you utilize your time will greatly influence how well you do.  (Note: For an average class you can expect 2 hours of study outside of class per unit each week.)  Stay on top of the material by reading your assignments prior to class so that you may get the most out of the time you have in class.  In addition to studying the material on your own I suggest that you form small study groups to review the material.  Once you feel comfortable with the material get together with your study group and go over it (room SM 55F is available for group study).  Answer the questions at the end of the chapters using your filled in lecture outline as a reference when needed.  If you can apply the facts and concepts presented in the lecture, and learn the language (you will learn lots of new terminology) you will be well prepared for the exams.

It is just as important, if not more so, to be well prepared for lab ahead of time by reading through your assignments.  Take advantage of the materials available during the lab (i.e. read the book at home so that you may get the most out of the time you have in lab to study specimen), attend the lab regularly and take advantage of the entire lab period.  Forming study groups to review the material is strongly encouraged, however, it is important to learn the material on your own first (i.e. study the material on your own then form study groups to review the material you have learned).  Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

In addition to what is available in the lab some selected lab materials may be available for study outside of scheduled class hours in SM 55F. Many supplemental materials are also available on the course website.

All of this will take time, there is no way around it. In fact, a general rule of thumb is to anticipate 2 hours of classwork outside of class each week for ever unit a course is worth. This estimate is for the "average" student to earn an "average" (i.e. C) grade.

Don't forget, the lecture and the lab make up one course thus they support each other.  Also, 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.

Note: This is a challenging class. Those of you who put in the effort to study hard, attend class regularly and get thoroughly involved in the study of anatomy are more likely to pass. You are responsible for meeting the requirements of the course and therefore for your own success.  Remember, as your instructor I am here to facilitate your education by presenting you with the material that you need to learn, and by assisting you with your understanding.  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. Remember, learning is work!

How effectively you study can have a significant impact on your learning. Look over the reasources listed below to get ideas to improve your study practices, save time and imrove your grade:

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 (
- Register for Classes (

- service supporting online classes, may be used for broadcasting course announcements

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

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