CCOG for BI 211 Summer 2024

Course Number:
BI 211
Course Title:
Principles of Biology I
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Includes introduction to science, cell biochemistry, cellular biology, and Mendelian genetics. The first of a three-course sequence for students majoring in biology or related sciences, including premedical, pre-dental, chiropractic, pharmacy, and related fields. Recommended: Successful completion of high school biology and chemistry within the past seven years or equivalent experience or BI 101. Audit available. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 or equivalent placement, and MTH 95 or any math course for which MTH 95 is a prerequisite. Prerequisites/concurrent: CH 151 or CH 221 or pass the CH 151 competency exam or instructor permission.

Addendum to Course Description

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Biology Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation Ascience@ is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation "science" is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).
Biology instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Design, carry out and communicate research at an emerging level.
  2. Identify and reflect on the influences of culture and bias on scientific processes.
  3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of scientific studies in biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics.
  4. Critically examine the influence of scientific and technical knowledge of biochemistry, cell biology, and Mendelian genetics on human society and the environment.
  5. Interpret ideas, data, and findings about biochemistry, cell biology and Mendelian genetics with others and communicate those interpretations clearly and accurately. 
  6. Apply biological theories and concepts to novel problems in biochemistry, cell biology, and Mendelian genetics.
  7. Discuss how biochemical and cellular structures contribute to their specialized functions.
  8. Apply understanding of chemical transformation pathways and the laws of thermodynamics to explain how biological systems grow and change.

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Principles of Biology, BI 211, the first of a three-course series, encourages students to think scientifically, including quantitative reasoning, and to explore cause-and-effect relationships in the living world. The focus of BI 211 is at the scale of the cell and its molecular components. In the tiny landscape of the cell, we reveal mechanisms and processes such as how energy from our food is transformed so that it can drive cellular processes. Classic studies that have broadened our scope of understanding are used to model ways in which science is done. Students practice the process of science in the classroom and laboratory. Throughout the course, they learn how to interpret illustrative forms of data, including tables, figures, and graphs. They must also generate their own graphics from data they collect in lab. Students also engage with the scientific literature by actively finding, reading and interpreting published scientific papers.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment Tasks may include:

o    open-ended essay questions and multiple-choice exams;

o    scientific papers that follow standard scientific format presenting independent investigations and may include peer-review(s);

o    oral presentations of biological information, informed positions on contemporary issues, and/or laboratory results;

o    classroom assessments, such as, quizzes, one minute summaries, pre-test/post-tests, etc.;

o    major independent projects, such as, experiential learning plus journals, botany collections with ecosystem reports, library research term papers, and field journals;

o    scientific article critiques;

o    laboratory practical exams;

o    and small projects and homework assignments.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes and Concepts include:

  • Structure and Function: The basic units of structure define the function of all living things.

  • Pathways and Transformation of Energy and Matter: Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.

  • Vision and Change National Competencies (Brewer & Smith, 2011)

    • Ability to apply the process of science.

    • Ability to use quantitative reasoning.

    • Ability to use modeling and simulation.

    • Ability to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science.

    • Ability to communicate and collaborate with other disciplines.

    • Ability to understand the relationship between science and society.


Biology 211 is relevant to many contemporary issues that may be discussed and explored during the course, such as, effects of pollution in aquatic systems, applications of gene therapy, dwindling biodiversity, global warming, acid rain, overpopulation, unknown impacts of genetically modified organisms, etc.