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La Sierra University Biology Standards

The following is an outline of standards used to guide the Biology Curriculum at La Sierra University; it is not inclusive and has room for faculty/Instructors to add supplemental materials to courses when appropriate. It serves as a guide for the Departmental Student Learning Objectives. 

Subject matter is divided into four major content areas: (1)cell biology; (2)molecular biology and genetics; (3)organismal biology; (4)population biology, evolution, and ecology, with two additional areas covering (5)analytical skills and; (6) interface of Faith and Science. The first five sections follow the guidelines from the Major Field Exam specific to Biology whose results are published in the National Comparative Data Guide comparing over 500 higher education institutions across the US.


Section 1:  Cell Biology

1.      Biochemistry and Cell Energetics – Students know

a.      Biological compounds and macromolecules

b.      processes of post-translational modifications, transmembrane insertion, sorting of proteins

c.       processes of enzyme activity and regulation

d.      about ATP and energy-producing pathways

e.      the first and second laws of thermodynamics

f.       the means of cell-cell communication


2.      Cellular structure, organization and function – Students know

a.      organelles and other cellular components

b.      the functions of cytoskeleton and cell motility

c.      cell surfaces and membrane function

d.      the functions of extracellular space

e.      cell theory and  germ theory

f.       distinctions among archaebacteria, eubacteria and eukaryotic cells

g.      cell growth,  the cell cycle, mitosis and cytokinesis


Section 2: Molecular Biology and Genetics

1.      Molecular genetics – Students know

a.      DNA replication and mutation

b.      gene structure, introns, and exons

c.       regulation of gene expression

d.      RNA transcription and modification

e.      translation of mRNA

f.       about phages and viruses

g.      control of normal development; cancer

h.      the molecular aspects of immunology

i.       techniques of genetic engineering


2.      Heredity – Students know

a.      process of meiosis and chromosomal alterations

b.      modes of inheritance

c.      probability and pedigree analysis

d.      segregation, recombination and chromosome mapping

e.      polyploidy and aneuploidy

f.       sex determination

g.      non-mendelian inheritance

h.      prokaryote genetics


Section 3: Organismal Biology

1.      Diversity of Organisms – Students  know

a.      about phylogenetics relationships, classification, morphology, life histories, and general biology of bacteria and archaea, protists, fungi, plants and animals

b.      theories of origin of life and endosymbiosis

c.      the evidence from the fossil record and human evolution

d.      methods of systematics and molecular phylogeny

e.      about  adaptation of organisms to habitats


2.      Animal organ systems (vertebrates and invertebrates): comparative structure, function and organization – Students know

a.      processes of digestion and nutrition

b.      processes of excretion and osmoregulation

c.       processes of gas exchange and ventilation

d.      functions of circulatory systems

e.      support and movement of organ systems

f.       functions of nervous and endocrine systems

g.      functions of integument

h.      functions of the immune system

i.       metabolic rates and energy within organ systems


3.      Animal reproduction, growth and development – Students know

a.      reproductive structures and gametogenesis

b.      fertilization, cleavage, and gastrulation

c.      comparative embryology

d.      reproduction in nonchordate animals


4.      Plant organ systems (seed plants and nonseed plants): comparative structure, function and organization – Students  know

a.      structure, function and organization of  roots, stems, leaves

b.      plant energetics

c.       water relations within plants

d.      mineral nutrition within plants

e.      translocation and storage within plants

f.       plant hormones, photoperiods, and tropisms

g.      nonphotosynthetic strategies


5.      Plant reproduction, development and growth- Students know

a.      plant reproductive structures, gametogenesis and sporogenesis

b.      fertilization and alternation of generations

c.       embryogeny and germation

d.      meristems and growth of plants


Section 4: Population Biology, Evolution and Ecology

1.      Population genetics and natural selection – Students know

a.      genetic variability and polyploidy

b.      distributions of genetic variability

c.       the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, genetic drift

d.      heritability, fitness and adaptation

e.      the process of natural selection


2.      Processes of Evolution – Students know

a.      modes of speciation

b.      isolating mechanisms

c.      convergence, divergence,  adaptive radiation, and biogeography

d.      extinction

e.      evolution of higher taxa

f.       evolutionary rates and punctuated equilibrium

g.      the evidence for evolution

h.      molecular evolution

i.       neutral mutations

j.       coevolution


3.      Environmental factors – Students know

a.      biogeographic and temporal patterns

b.      environmental biomes

c.       environmental climate


4.      Population Ecology- Students know

a.      habitat selection, tolerances, limiting factors and resource acquisition

b.      demography and population dynamics

c.       animal behavior


5.      Community Ecology- Students know

a.       competition, predation, parasitism, and symbiosis

b.      community structure and niche

c.       species richness and species diversity

d.      change and succession

e.       effect of introduced species


6.      Ecosystems- Students know

a.       energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, and decomposition

b.      ecosystem productivity

c.       ecosystem food webs


7.      Human Impacts- Students know

a.       human demography

b.      resource depletion and pollution

c.       economic botany

d.      habitat modification and effects on organisms

e.       of emerging and  endemic diseases


Section 5: Analytical Skills

1.      Science as a way of knowing- Students know

a.       the  quantitative aspects and limitations of science

b.      the place of hypotheses and theories in biology

c.       the processes of identification and testing of hypotheses


2.      Hypotheses testing and Experimental design- Students know

a.       how to  identify  variables and establish experimental controls

b.      that measured parameters are affected by phenomenon being studied


3.      Interpretation, data analysis, inductive reasoning, and drawing conclusions from data – Students know

a.       to apply information to solve a problem or make a prediction

b.      and demonstrate proficiency with quantitative concepts and familiarity with units of measure

c.       and demonstrate  an understanding of probability theory and statistics

d.      how to interpret data, graphs, tables and  do statistical analyses


4.      Technical skills- Students know

a.       proper notebook organization and record keeping

b.      how to perform sterile techniques and laboratory safety procedures

c.       how to perform pipetting and solution preparation

d.      how to perform methods of protein and DNA analysis and isolation


Section 6: Interface of Faith, Science and Service

1.      Faith and Science- Students know

a.       how to integrate their personal faith with their knowledge of science

b.      the understanding of the origin of life and creation according to the Adventist Church

c.       the Christian doctrines of creation and the origin of life

d.      the historical contribution World Religions have made to Science.


2.      Service Oriented Occupational Responsibilities – Students know

a.       their moral and ethical obligations to society as either a professional or an academic

b.      stewardship of the Earth’s resources

c.       how to think critically and communicate their understanding about what constitutes appropriate use of science in distinguishing between scientific fact, pseudo science, and matters of faith

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