Senior Seminar (BS4812) Syllabus
Biology Seminar
BS 4812

Course description:
Reports, readings, and discussions on materials relevant to the biological sciences.  This course emphasizes important current issues in science.  However, the primary purpose of this course is to develop each student’s ability to think scientifically and to clearly present those thoughts.

Prerequisites:  must be a biology major with at least 16 hours of course work in major area.

McMillan, V. 2001. Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences. Third edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press

Regardless of their eventual specialization, a scientist must be able to think and evaluate material critically.  In addition, it is essential to learn to present ideas clearly and comfortably in an oral format.

Course objectives:
1.  To develop a familiarity with current biological topics
2.  To develop an increased awareness of the relevance of biology to current news issues
3.  To develop the ability to research a topic rapidly
4.  To develop the ability to critically evaluate scientific literature and experiments
5.  To develop the ability to clearly present information orally and to respond thoughtfully to spontaneous questions
6.  To develop confidence in giving oral presentations and presenting personal ideas
7.  To develop the ability to design, execute, and interpret and scientific experiment
8.  To reinforce basic scientific knowledge from all science classes

Institutional Goals:  This course will address the six institutional goals (found on page 11-12 of the catalogue) as follows.
1. Institutional goal 1 (“To produce students who demonstrate an understanding of the Judeo-Christian heritage and Christian worldview”) will be addressed by: 1) objectives 1, 2, and 8 (providing background); and 2) by 5 and 6 (expressing their perspectives).
2.  Institutional goal 2 (“To produce students who demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively across the curriculum”) is will be addressed by written assignments, class discussions, and by objectives 5 and 6.
3.  Institutional goal 3 (“To produce students who demonstrate the ability to reflect critically upon the world, the environment, society, and self”) will be addressed within the context of class discussions, through essay questions, and through student presentations (objectives 2 and 4).
4.  Institutional goal 4 (“To produce students who demonstrate the ability to apply the principles of the scientific method to become more effective problem solvers”) will be addressed through discussions and problem solving during class (objectives 4 and 7).
5.  Institutional goal 5 (“To produce students who demonstrate an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle that will promote lifelong heath and fitness”) will be addressed through discussion of scientific research and ethical issues relating to disease (objectives 1 and 2).
6.  Institutional goal 6 (“To produce students who demonstrate a competence in at least one particular body of knowledge”) will be addressed through strengthening student knowledge of important general scientific concepts, through all aspects of the course.

Course Requirements:
Attendance and completion of presentations is mandatory. Students are accountable for all class assignments, class announcements, handouts and information provided during class meetings. After three absences, a student’s course grade will be reduced by 5% for each additional absence. If more than six classes are missed, the student will be asked to drop the course or receive a failing grade.
If you must miss a meeting, then you must contact me as quickly as possible.  It is always better to contact me before rather than after an absence if you know in advance that you must miss a meeting (if you notify me in advance, it will be easier to receive approval for a makeup). Please provide a substantive excuse (e.g., a doctor’s note).
Students are expected and required to uphold the highest standards of academic honesty in this and all courses.  Students should be familiar with the College's policies concerning academic integrity (Catalog, page 52; Student Handbook, page 32, section VII).  Students requiring any clarification of these policies should consult their academic advisor or the Office of Academic Affairs.

We will meet weekly and participate in discussions.  One person will have been selected in advance to prepare for and lead the discussion.  The discussion leader will also turn in a written summary of the paper.  Your grade will be determined as follows.

Preparation when leading discussions: 220 points total
Discussion 160
Discussion 260
Book report/exam50
Experiment presentation      50

Written assignments: 255 points total
Assignment 160
Assignment 245
Assignment 360
Book report/exam  90
Experiment    50

Participation in discussions: 255 points total (14 discussions; 18.21 points each)
730 total

To retain participation points if you are absent, you must turn in a written summary of the paper discussed, including your questions about the paper and possible answers.

Written assignments will consist of practice problems, paper summaries, and practice essays/applications.  Book report presentations will involve reading a book about how science is really done, and then presenting a summary of the book.  Some examples of possible books include: “The Double Helix,” by James Watson and Frances Crick or “Woman in the Mist” by Farley Mowat.  Practice standardized exams will simulate the MCAT, DAT, AHPAT, or GRE.  All students will also be required to design, execute, and present an experiment.

Instructor: Ann V. Paterson
Phone: (870) 759-4171