Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Course Content and Outcomes Guide for BI 211 Effective Fall 2021

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

Course Description

Includes introduction to science, biochemistry, metabolism, the cell, molecular biology, and reproduction. The first course of a three-course sequence for students majoring in biology and the sciences, including premedical, pre-dental, chiropractic, pharmacy, and related fields. 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. Recommended: Successful completion of high school biology and chemistry within the past seven years or equivalent experience or BI 101. Audit available.

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 impact of culture and bias on scientific processes.

  3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of scientific studies in biochemistry and cell biology.

  4. Critically examine the influence of scientific and technical knowledge of biochemistry and cell biology on human society and the environment.
  5. Communicate concepts in biochemistry and cell biology, using appropriate terminology in both written and verbal forms.

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.

Aspirational Goals

  1.  Apply biological theories and concepts from biochemistry and cell biology to novel problems in their lives and community (personal, work and career).

  2. Develop informed positions and opinions on contemporary issues in biochemistry and cell biology, while considering ethical, scientific, community, and cultural implications.

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:
1. The properties of living things

2. Basic chemistry

3. How properties of water affect living things

4. Basic organic chemistry

5. Functional characteristics of organic macromolecules

6. Biochemical pathways and enzymes

7. Cell microanatomy

8. Membrane structure and function

9. Aerobic and anaerobic cellular respiration

10. Photosynthesis

11. Binary fission and mitosis

12. Meiosis and sexual life cycles

13. Introduction to genetics including Mendelian genetics

14. Genetics of viruses and bacterial (optional)

15. Gene expression in eukaryotes (optional)

16. DNA technology (optional)

17. Describe and relate anabolic (photosynthesis) and catabolic (respiration and fermentation) pathways emphasizing the transformation of energy and matter.

18. Predict how a molecule’s movement is affected by its thermal energy, size, electrochemical gradient, and biochemical properties.

19. Model the processes by which evolution allows for the emergence of cell complexity and diversity. Describe the building blocks and synthesis of the major classes of biomolecules and the contribution of their three-dimensional structure to their functions. 

20. Explain mechanisms by which cells receive and respond to internal and external signals that vary through space and time. 

21. Diagram cell components, emphasizing them as a system of interacting parts.


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.

Competencies and Skills:

o     Read scientific literature

o       Apply the scientific method

o       Use laboratory techniques and equipment

o       Locate and access biological information

o       Think critically

o       Collaborate with peers -- work effectively in groups

o       Articulate scientific processes in written and oral format

o       Present data in papers using the scientific format

o       Present conclusions logically