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ERIC Number: EJ1085525
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1536-7509
Points of View: A Survey of Survey Courses--Are They Effective? A Case for Nonsurvey Introductory Biology Courses
Becker, David
Cell Biology Education, v4 n2 p128-131 Sum 2005
In spring of 1998, the Biology Department at Pomona College changed from a two-semester survey introductory biology sequence to a core set of three courses, none of which is a traditional survey course. They had been wrestling for several years with a number of issues regarding the survey courses, including (1) what topics to include and exclude; (2) the perception by the students that these survey courses were ''like high school biology,''; (3) the anonymity felt by students in the large (90-120 students) lectures; and (4) the impersonality of giving those lectures. A breakthrough was made when the department went through the exercise of starting from scratch to design an introductory curriculum that: (1) they would enjoy teaching; (2) would introduce the students to the fundamental principles and methods of practicing biology; and (3) would excite the students about biology in general. The first course centered on genetics, and this set the stage for the remaining two core courses: Cell Chemistry & Cell Biology, and Ecology & Evolution. Overall, the department was pleased with the nonsurvey introductory sequence of courses, and believe that these met the objectives better than their predecessors (a two-semester sequence of survey courses). What they particularly liked were the increased level of student engagement with the material in the courses, the opportunity to emphasize the processes of ''doing biology'' in both class and lab, the increased depth of coverage of the topics in the courses, and the closer relationship that developed between teachers and students.
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A