EVOLUTION COURSE SYLLABUS – BIOL 414
Instructor: Jennifer Dever
office: HR 352; office hours: tbd
course website: http://usf.usfca.edu/fac-staff/dever/evolution.html
Lecture Time & Location: Lecture days/times: MWF 10:30-11:35 (section 02) - MA 126
This course will be an in-depth examination of the unifying principles of evolutionary biology. We will look at the nature of science, Pre-Darwin ideas about evolution, Darwinian evolution, the Modern Synthesis and contemporary evolutionary biology. Concepts including microevolutionary forces, macroevolution, phylogenetics, origin of life and human evolution will be covered. Students will be required to read, participate in class discussions, and be able to think critically about these concepts – as this topic demands careful contemplation for appreciation. This course is designed as a “cap-stone” course for the Biology major, which is a catchall phrase that means I will be assessing everything you have learned in the major in the context of evolution plus evaluating how well you are able to synthesize and communicate this information. I will be utilizing a variety of evaluative styles (discussions, exams, oral presentations, and a paper) to determine your final grade.
Prerequisite: Genetics pre-requisite (completion with minimum grade C).
Evolutionary Analysis by Freeman & Herron, (2007) 4th edition. ISBN 0-13-227584-8
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (1996). ISBN 978-0393315707
The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin.
- Recall the notions of evolution before Darwin and discuss how the theory of natural selection was formulated.
- Define evolution and describe natural selection in detail.
- Distinguish other modes of evolutionary change besides natural selection.
- Describe the roles of competition, cooperation, niches, and other ecological forces that drive evolutionary change.
- Discuss the role of mutation in evolution and extrapolate neutral v. non-neutral molecular evolution.
- Compare and contrast microevolution and macro-evolutionary concepts.
- Recognize the bodies of evidence in support of evolutionary biology and understand the current limitations of the theory.
- Be able to construct and interpret evolutionary phylogenies according to the concepts of common ancestry and parsimony of derived characters.
- Compare and contrast Co-evolution, sexual selection and natural selection.
- Recognize the relevance of evolutionary theory in many modern issues, including but not limited to infectious disease, human behavior, and general education.
- Apply critical reasoning skills to analyze and critique both scholarly and non-scholarly writings on the topic of evolutionary biology.
- Demonstrate proper academic writing and presentation skills.
- Be able to recognize the errors in most arguments and misconceptions often described by opponents of evolutionary biology.
- Exams – there will be two exams (1 midterm and the final which is comprehensive) that will be given on the date specified in the schedule. The exams will consist of a combination of short answer, problem solving, fill-in, matching, and essay questions. Both exams are counted toward your final grade (none will be dropped). Make-up exams will only be given under extreme and documentable circumstances. If you miss a scheduled exam, you must inform the instructor immediately and have to take a make-up exam within one week or receive a grade of zero for that exam. The Make-up exam be different than the exam administered at the originally scheduled time. Please note the dates of the mid-term and in particular the final exam when making travel arrangements. There will be no opportunity to take the final exam early. There will be no withdrawals after the deadline as indicated in the University Academic Calendar.
- Presentation - In groups, students will be required to give an oral presentation to the class summarizing primary journal articles for an assigned topic. Groups must submit your research articles to the instructor at least 2 weeks prior to your presentation. Your selection must be approved by me beforehand. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a loss of points. You are responsible for providing me with a copy of each article that will be made available to your classmates no later than one week before your presentation date. The oral presentation should involve all members of your group and exhibit a coordinated effort. The goal is to present the material in your paper to your peers (i.e., your classmates), so the presentation must be CLEAR, CONCISE, WELL-PREPARED, and UNDERSTANDABLE. Your peers will be helping to grade you (via evaluations). The class will be tested on the papers you reviewed therefore it is important they understand the information. Each group will have approximately 25 minutes for your presentation and 10 minutes for Q & A. A grading rubric will be provided.
- Presentation Article Summary Paper – Each group member will be responsible for writing a summary of their primary journal article covering points A-D from the presentation guidelines.
- Response Paper – Each student will be responsible for writing a response paper to The Blind Watchmaker. You will choose a topic covered in the book and either support or refute it - specifically drawing from course lecture material and factual (scholarly) evidence to support your opinions regarding specific topic(s) addressed in the text. Length- minimum of 10 pages, maximum of 12 (double spaced). You will provide both scientific background information as well as opinions on the topic. You should include your own opinions, providing a strong argument to support your opinions. Source material must be properly cited. Failure to properly cite material will result in a full-grade reduction for the paper. A grading rubric will be provided.
- In-class Activities (quizzes, writing exercises, discussion exercises, participation) – these activities cannot be “made-up” if you are absent.
- Outside Activities (homework) – various short assignments will be given throughout the semester and are due at the appointed date. Late assignments will not be accepted.
Final grades are determined from the following:
Midterm (25%), Final (30%)
A- 90-93%, A 94-97%, A+ 98-100%
Presentation (20%), Presentation Paper (5%)
B- 80-83%, B 84-86%, B+ 87-89%
Blind Watchmaker Paper (15%)
C- 70-73%, C 74-76%, C+ 77-79%
Participation and homework (5%)
D- 60-63%, D 64-66%, D+ 67-69%
Class Participation: Attendance is mandatory. Lecture often includes material not found in the textbook. In-class discussions are key to processing and synthesizing the material and cannot be “made-up”. Missing more than 3 classes throughout the semester will result in a reduction in your final grade. Do not miss class, if you do-please let me know why so that I may assist if there is some problem.
Academic Honesty: From the USF catalog: “The University expects students to be honest in their academic work. Academic dishonesty is viewed as an ethical issue and a violation of the principles of justice and personal responsibility inherent in the University's ideals as expressed in its Statement of Mission and Goals. In particular, students must refrain from plagiarism, cheating and collusion in connection with examinations and must acknowledge fully all sources and all assistance received in work submitted to the faculty for evaluation.” Plagiarism = “the uncredited use (both intentional and unintentional) of somebody else's words or ideas” from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/1/
Plagiarism of papers or cheating on exams, quizzes, or homework will not be tolerated. You may not copy any part of anyone else’s work and pass it in as your own. Any plagiarism or cheating will result in a grade of F for the course, and a report will be submitted to the Dean resulting in a permanent record of the incident in your academic file. Improper citation of material will result in a minimum of a full grade deduction. If you observe someone else cheating, you also have the responsibility to bring this situation to the instructor’s attention. Please see the Honor Code section of the 2011-2012 USF Catalog.
Electronic Devices In Class: PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES while in class. If you need to record the lectures, that is permissible provided you discuss this beforehand with the instructor. Laptops and iPads may be used in class as long as you are only using them to take notes - refrain from texting, playing games, checking your email or surfing the web.
Students with disabilities: Please discuss your needs with me during the first week of classes. Any student who, because of a disabling condition may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should contact the Disability Related Services Dept. at 2613.
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