Syllabus for BIO-101



Introductory Biology is a general biology course for nonmajors and provides an overview of the structure and function of living organisms. Topics covered in Introductory Biology include characteristics of life, the scientific method, cell structure and function, vertebrate evolution, microbiology, and comparative biology. Students will take from this course an understanding of the basic concepts in biology.



After completing this course, students will be able to:

CO1        Describe elements of the scientific study of living things.

CO2        Discuss cells, including their elements, organization, and membranes.

CO3        Explain cell processes such as photosynthesis and meiosis, as well as the basics of genetics.

CO4        Describe how scientists classify and systematize the study of biology.

CO5        Discuss microbiology including viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

CO6        Identify the mechanisms of vertebrate evolution.

CO7        Summarize principles of comparative biology.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

  • Mader, S. S., & Windelspecht, M. (2016). Biology (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

ISBN-13 978-0078024269


Animations, Videos, and Websites

Your course site includes links to animations, videos, and websites on the topics in each module.


Introductory Biology is a three-credit, online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include study materials and activities. You are required to take three exams.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in six online discussion forums, complete eight written assignments, and take three proctored examinations—one during Week 4, another during Week 8, and the last during Week 12. You will also take chapter quizzes. Modules include an overview, topic list, objectives, study materials (including reading assignments), and activities: discussion forums, written assignments, and quizzes.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

Introductory Biology requires you to participate in six graded online discussion activities, in addition to an ungraded, but required, Introductions Forum in Module 1.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a posted activity and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete eight written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules.


You are required to take twenty-five quizzes, one per chapter. All quiz items are multiple choice. You may use any materials that you like in taking the quizzes, and there is no time limit for taking each quiz.

Students find that quiz-taking is one way to prepare for examinations. Therefore, you will be able to take each quiz an unlimited number of times, and the gradebook will record your most recent score. This arrangement will allow you to go back and reread portions of the text that you need to review and then take the quiz again for further practice.


For a list of key concepts that may appear on your exam(s), refer to the study guide(s) available in the Examinations section of the course website.

Introductory Biology has three proctored examinations during Weeks 4, 8, and 12. See the Course Calendar for the dates of your exam weeks.

For all of these online examinations you are required to use the University’s Online Proctor Service  (OPS). Please refer to the Examinations and Proctors section of the Online Student Handbook (see the General Information area of the course website) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to make your scheduling arrangements for exams within the first week of the semester.

Online exams are administered through the course website.

Exam 1 (Week 4)

The first exam is a closed-book, proctored exam. It is one hour long and covers material from Modules 1 and 2 of the course (Chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 in the textbook). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions similar to those in the quizzes. Fully answering the assignment questions for these modules will help you prepare for the examination.

Exam 2 (Week 8)

The second exam is a closed-book, proctored exam. It is one hour long and covers material from Modules 3 and 4 of the course (Chapters 9, 10, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29, and 31 in the textbook). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions similar to those in the quizzes. Fully answering the assignment questions for these modules will help you prepare for the examination.

Exam 3 (Week 12)

The third exam is a closed-book, proctored exam. It is one hour long and covers material from Modules 5 and 6 of the course (Chapters 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42 in the textbook). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions similar to those in the quizzes. Fully answering the assignment questions for these modules will help you prepare for the examination.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the Course Calendar. The calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check the Latest News area and class Discussion Board regularly for new course information.


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > Citing Sources.)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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