OBJECTIVES: Science is a way of making sense of the world and the place of humans in it by making observations, generating candidate explanations of those observations, testing the explanations by further observations, and repeating over and over again.  In this sense, it is firmly anchored in an unending empirical process that loops repeatedly between observations and interpretations. The loop itself in turn cycles between inductive and deductive steps.   Regularities in patterns of observations suggest possible general principles (the inductive step) which in turn are used to generate predictions about observations as yet unmade (the deductive step).  The process of generating and testing predictions yields both new ways of making sense of the world and one's place in it and new questions about both.  In this important sense, science is not about finding "truth" but instead is a process of continuing inquiry driven equally by curiosity, skepticism, and imagination. For the purpose of the Biology 101/102 lab series, it is important to keep in mind that science is primarily an iterative process of observing and interpreting - also know as the "scientific method".  To gain proficiency in this process is the main goal of the lab course and students will be judged on their ability to construct knowledge within this paradigm. (click here for more on the history and philosophy of Science.)

LABORATORY BLACKBOARD SITE: Full access to all Biology 101/102 lab materials are found on Blackboard.  Once you are officially registered for the course (see registrars office or the lab instructor) the laboratory link should show up on your Blackboard home site.  Be sure to visit Blackboard by the first day of classes to verify that you have the link to both the lecture and lab courses for Bio 101/102 - they are separate courses in Blackboard.

LABORATORY ATTENDANCE. Students are required to attend their assigned laboratory section each week during the semester. Excused absences will be granted by your laboratory instructor only for illness and family emergency. If advance notification is not possible, you must contact your laboratory instructor no later than 24 hours after missing your assigned laboratory. Because of the great amount of work involved in lab set-up, make-up laboratories for excused absences must be performed during the same week that the laboratory is scheduled. Permission to change laboratory sections to avoid missing a lab must be obtained in advance from your lab instructor.


The laboratory will be open for student use of computers and for other activities related to student experiments during regular class hours each day. If you wish to use a laboratory computer during a scheduled laboratory period, please ask the laboratory instructor for permission. Students attending regularly scheduled laboratory periods have priority for use of the computers. Because of concerns for student safety, it will not be possible to allow use of the laboratory during evening hours.

Any instruments or supplies you will need to perform labs will be supplied to you. You will need to print a hard copy of the laboratory exercise for each week from a PDF file that can be directly downloaded from the lab's BlackBoard web site. Also, be sure to download any supporting documents under the COURSE DOCUMENTS folder on BlackBoard. You will need to bring a notebook to record your observations during lab.

LABORATORY GRADING. Your effort in laboratory will account for 20% of your overall grade in the Introductory Biology course. (Click here for a detailed discussion of how to succeed in Bio101/102). Your performance in laboratory will be determined by three methods of evaluation; quizzes, short pre-lab questions and post-lab questions.  Bio 101 is primarily composed of pre-lab and post-lab written assignments, while Bio 102 is composed of all three types of evaluations. Grades will be reported to you as percentages of available points, usually out of 100pts and your lowest assignmet will be dropped before calculating your final lab grade. The pre- and post-lab questions are structured such that they model the format of a scientific report. For details on the format of scientific reports see the “Key Elements of Scientific Reporting” and “Examples of Figures and Tables” links. Click here to view a breakdown of how your assignments will be awarded points. Pre- and post-lab assignments will be uploaded electronically as a document link in your own personal “Assignment Blog” where only the instructors and graders can view your assignments. Each assignment must be linked in a new entry and the comment section of the Blog will be used by the graders to enter your evaluation. The pre-lab assignments are due at the beginning of the lab period to which they apply and will be averaged and weighted in value equal to one post-lab assignment. Post-lab assignments are due by 11pm, two days following the laboratory section you attend . You must use the “.doc” format, not “.docx”.  Nearly all post-lab assignments will require you to make an excel graph and then embed it into a MS Word document.  We will go over this process once in class, and then it is your responsibility to make an appointment with your instructors if you are still having difficulty.

POLICY REGARDING LATE ASSIGNMENTS. It is expected that all assignments will be completed and turned in to your laboratory instructor according to the schedule outlined above. However, if certain circumstances should cause you to miss a scheduled date, you must contact the course coordinator immediately ( Your laboratory instructor will not accept late assignments without penalty. Assignments turned in late because of illness or family emergency and accompanied by a Dean's excuse will not incur a penalty. Assignments turned in late for reasons other than illness or family emergency may incur a penalty. Penalties will be determined by the course coordinator on a case-by-case basis, but is typically 5pts a day.

ANIMAL USE POLICY. The following is our departmental policy regarding student participation in labs that involve use of animals or animal tissues:

Students objecting to participating directly in laboratory activities involving the use of animals are required to notify the laboratory faculty of his/her objections at the beginning of the course.  If alternative activities are available and deemed consistent with the pedagogical objectives of the course by the faculty, then a student will be allowed to pursue alternate laboratory activities without penalty.

***In this course, students are obligated to look through the lab syllabus and notify the lab coordinator (Wil Franklin) of any potential objections BEFORE THE END OF THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASSES. The alternative laboratory activities will be determined by the laboratory faculty.

Last revised by WAF on 5/23/08