Fall 2020 - BISC 102 D100

General Biology (4)

Class Number: 1253

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    High school biology 12 (or equivalent) with a C grade or better, or BISC 100 with C- or better, or BISC 113 with C+ or better, or HSCI 100 with C+ or better.



Survey of the diversity of life, and its evolutionary history on earth. The student is introduced to the study of genetics, development, and evolution, giving an overview of how these processes interact to produce form and function. Also included are principles of behavior and ecological relationships of organisms to each other and their environment. Breadth-Science.


Lecture Mostly asynchronous, with a few activities taking place synchronously, during the regular lecture time (1230 – 1330).

1. The instructor will be online most Tuesdays to answer your questions.

2. Midterm reviews (optional) will take place synchronously, on Tues Oct 13, and Thurs December 3.

3. Midterm exams (mandatory) will take place synchronously, on Thurs Oct 15, and Thurs Nov 12.

4. The final exam (mandatory) will take place synchronously, during the exam period.

Course procedure, Fall 2020

SFU is keeping almost all of its instruction remotely in Fall 2020, due to the COVID pandemic. Canvas will be used as the learning management systems in the course, but you will need to have access to Zoom as well.

Lectures (asynchronous and synchronous)

All 22 lectures should be posted on Canvas from the start of the semester. The lecture material follows a logical progression, but you have considerable freedom to listen when you want, and in any order. The review lectures (Tuesday October 13 and Thursday December 3) will be held synchronously, during the regular lecture time 1230 – 1330. The prof will be available on Zoom during lecture time (1230 – 1330) on most Tuesdays to answer questions about any aspect of the course.

Labs (asynchronous)

It is a challenge to move hands-on labs to a remote learning environment. However, we designed our remote labs to provide you with foundational skills and qualities needed to understand science as a process, such as curiosity about the natural world, observation and documentation of natural phenomena, hypothesis development, graphic communication, quantitative reasoning, and written communication. Even though labs will be delivered asynchronously, you will have to progress week-by-week, as there are graded worksheets and activities to complete for each week. Lab worksheets will be posted weekly on Thursdays. You will have 1 week to complete each worksheet and activities, and then submit your worksheet for grading.


There are two course assignments. The Inquiry Figure Assignment is worth 20% of your grade - you’ll receive direction in the lab portion of the course. The Forest Walk Assignment is worth 10% of your final grade, and is designed to get you out to see some biology in the field, during the first and seventh week of classes. You’ll receive direction in tutorial.

Mid term (synchronous)

The mid-terms will be held on Canvas, Thursday October 15, and Thursday November 12, during the regular lecture time 1230 – 1330. Mid-term #1 covers material from lectures 1 – 10, and is worth 10% of your grade. Mid-term #2 covers material from lectures 11 - 17, and is worth 10% of your grade. The course exam policy will be posted on Canvas.

Final exam (synchronous)

The final exam will be scheduled during the exam period December 9 – 20. This will be a 2h exam, held synchronously during the scheduled time on Canvas. The first portion of the final exam covers material from lectures 18 – 22, and the second portion will pose questions from the entire course. The final exam is worth 20% of your grade.

Tutorials (synchronous)

Discussion and interchange with instructors and peers is a valuable part of a university education. Remote delivery has made that more challenging, but we hope to retain some of this aspect of learning as best we can under the circumstances. Tutorial participation is worth 10% of your grade. 'Participation' means that you attend the synchronous meeting, with camera on. (Microphones are better kept switched off. Turn your mic on only when you want to speak.) You'll get 0.5% of the grade for each tutorial you attend (up to a maximum of 5%), with the remaining 5% based on your level of active participation.


  • Forest Walk Assignment 10%
  • Lab Worsheets 15%
  • Additional Learning Activities 5%
  • Tutorial Participation 10%
  • Inquiry Assignment 20%
  • Midterm Exam 1 10%
  • Midterm Exam 2 10%
  • Final Exam 20%


Letter grades will be assigned as follows.

The boundary between B and C letter grades will be set at the overall class average. Therefore, about half of assigned letter grades are ‘B-’ or higher, and the other half ‘C+’ or lower.

Scores more than one standard deviation above the average ‘A’ letter grades

Scores within one standard deviation above the average - ‘B’ letter grades

Scores within one standard deviation below the average - ‘C’ letter grades

Scores more than one standard deviation below the average - ‘D’

Scores more than two standard deviations below the average - ‘F’

A ‘standard deviation’ is a statistical measure of the spread in a distribution. If you’re new to statistics look up http://www.mathsisfun.com/data/standard-deviation.html. A normal distribution, (i.e. the ‘bell-shaped’ curve) has about 68% of the grades within one standard deviation of (above and below) the mean, so most grades will be ‘B’ or ‘C’.



Technical requirements

To access course materials in this course, you will need to have a computer with camera and microphone and a keyboard, and preferably a quiet area to study in. Headphones are optional. You will also need a reliable Internet access to participate in class times. We will use online simulations from SimBio, and you will need to be able to download the SimBio software. The technical requirements for this software are given here (note that the software does not work on ipads or mobile devices): https://simutext.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/200170134-Check-Your-Tech-



Biological Science, by Freeman, Harrington and Sharp. Third Canadian Edition, Pearson

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).