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iStudy Course Syllabus

BISC 104: Inquiry Into Life v2
University of Mississippi

3 credit hours


Instructor photo

Instructor: Carol Cleveland, PhD

Instructor Information:

Telephone: (662) 612-0499 ñ this is a Google number that you can use to text me or call and leave a message (speak clearly so that it is easily understood and transcribed).

Google Hangouts:

Virtual Office Hours: Wednesday 4:00-5:00pm; Saturday 10:00-11:00am or by appointment

Office Hours - in person - contact me to schedule if necessary

Communication Policy:

  • E-mail anytime ( I will try my best to return e-mails within 24 hours (except on weekends where I may not respond until Monday afternoon). Be sure to include the course name in the subject line and state your full name at the end of the email. I cannot respond to messages and emails from people that are not identified. I teach several online classes and need to be able to identify the class that the student is in.
  • Grading may take up to a week (7 days). Please do not email me grade related questions before 7 days have elapsed since you turned in an assignment.


If you have questions concerning the content of the course, you may contact the instructor directly using the Email Your Instructor link in the Lessons or Content page. NOTE: Whenever sending email, please be sure to indicate your course title and number in the subject line. You can expect a response within 72 hours, although it may be longer on weekends. Many instructors reply within 24 hours.

For lesson or test administration issues, please contact the iStudy department:

The University of Mississippi, Department of Outreach and Continuing Education
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677

Phone: (662) 915-7313, toll-free (877) 915-7313
Fax: (662) 915-8826


This is a survey course intended for non-biology majors, emphasizing the relationships of humans to the environment, including origins and diversification of life, behavior, ecology, role of plants, and environmental concerns. Applies to the science requirement of the core curriculum. The associated laboratory is BISC 105 and cannot be taken online.

You should learn information necessary to evaluate news and journals of development of evolutionary thought and the ramifications of human impact on the biosphere and environment.


Required Textbook:

textbook cover

Hoefnagels, Marielle. 2016. Biology: The Essentials (second edition)

Access Code 9781259667688 (includes etext and McGraw-Hill Connect access)

You can buy this directly from the publisher through the link in this course. A free trial access is available through the link in this course as wellÖ.it will get you started in the class until you purchase the access (2 weeks).

It is your responsibility to order your textbook. Use the ISBN number to make sure you are ordering the exact book required in this syllabus.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Describe the processes driving evolution and diversity of life on Earth and evaluate scientifically supported evidence for evolution.
  2. Compare and contrast relationships among the diverse life forms of Earth, including microorganisms, animals, fungi and plants.
  3. Describe and compare the structure and function of plants, including the process of photosynthesis.
  4. Distinguish between population, community and ecosystem ecology and be able to describe processes involved in ecological relationships among organisms.


This course consists of 13 instructional modules within 5 unit modules.

Unit Module



Due for Grades

Start Here


You MUST take the syllabus quiz within 2 weeks of enrolling or you will be dropped from the course.

NOTE: you must pass the Syllabus and Orientation Quiz for the course materials to appear on the Lessons page.

  • Syllabus Quiz



Introduction videos

  • Log in and register for McGraw-Hill Connect and LearnSmart ñ Complete Introduction exercise
  • Discussion board ñ Introduce Yourself



Module 1: Forces of Evolutionary Change

Chapter 12

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 12
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 12
  • Journal - Examples of Natural Selection
  • Making of a Theory Quiz
  • 5 Fingers of Evolution Paragraph

Module 2: Evidence of Evolution

Chapter 13

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 13
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 13
  • Module 2 Video Quiz
  • Journal ñ How Strong is our Evidence?

Module 3: Speciation and Extinction

Chapter 14

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 14
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 14
  • What is a Species? Summary
  • Adaptive Radiation ñ imagine activity
  • Journal ñ Tree of Life


Module 4: Diversity of Microbial Life

Chapter 15

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 15
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 15
  • Microbial Life Video Quiz
  • Journal ñ Microbial Diseases

Module 5: Diversity of Plants

Chapter 16

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 16
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 16
  • Plant Adaptation to Land paragraph
  • Journal ñ Plant life cycles

Module 6: Diversity of Animals (Invertebrates)

Chapter 17 (17.117.9)

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 17
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 17
  • Invertebrate Diversity Video summary
  • Animal Features ñ compare and contrast
  • Journal ñ Spineless Critters

Module 7: Diversity of Animals (Vertebrates)

Chapter 17 (17.1017.12)

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 17b
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 17b
  • Your Inner ____ Video summary
  • Journal ñ Vertebrate Adaptations

Mid Term Exam

Comprehensive proctored exam covering Unit Modules 1-2 (Lesson Modules 1-7, Chapters 12-17)

Review Available

To be scheduled and completed before proceeding



Module 8: Plant Form and Function

Chapter 21

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 21
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 21
  • Plant Structure and Growth Quiz
  • Journal ñ Products from Plants

Module 9: Reproduction and Development of Flowering Plants

Chapter 22

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 22
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 22
  • Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind paragraph
  • Journal ñ Seed Dispersal

Module 10: Photosynthesis

Chapter 5

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 5
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 5
  • Plant Pigment Extraction
  • Khan Academy Assignment
  • Journal ñ Plants and Air Quality
4 11

Module 11: Population Ecology

Chapter 18

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 18
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 18 ¸ Mystery in Alaska Part I
  • Mystery in Alaska Part II
  • Journal ñ Mystery in Alaska Part III

Module 12: Communities and Ecosystems

Chapter 19

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 19
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 19
  • HHMI Video quiz
  • Journal ñ Aquatic Biomes

Module 13: Preserving Biodiversity

Chapter 20

  • LearnSmart ñ Chapter 20
  • Connect Quiz ñ Chapter 20
  • Exotic Species Assignment
  • Journal ñ El Nino and Climate Change



Module 14: Ecology and Evolution Wrap-Up
Video: Life at the Brink

  • Journal 15: Ecology and Evolution Summary

Final Exam

Comprehensive proctored exam covering Unit Modules 3-5 (Lesson Modules 8-14, Chapters 5, 18-22)

Review Available

To be scheduled and completed to finalize credit



A 90-100% C+ 75-77.9%
A- 88-89.9% C 70-74.9%
B+ 85-87.9% C- 68-69.9%
B 80-84.9% D 60-67.9%
B- 78-79.9% F Below 60


For this course, your grade is composed of the following components:



Connect Quizzes

15% (drop lowest score)

LearnSmart Assignments

10% (drop lowest chapter score)

Miscellaneous Module Assignments

10% (drop lowest score)

Midterm Exam


Final Exam




A student who wishes to receive credit for an Independent Study course must take all required exams under the supervision of an approved test site official (a proctor). iStudy has a testing facility (DETL, the Distance Education Testing Center at UM) to proctor tests for students in the Oxford area. Students near Tupelo, Southaven, Grenada or Booneville can use our regional campus testing centers. Other students are allowed to take tests from any approved 2 or 4 year college or university. Testing centers and public libraries can also serve as proctors, but K-12 schools are not acceptable. More information is available on the iStudy website. If you are testing in Oxford, you need to submit a test application via Register Blast. The link to Register Blast can be found at the iStudy website. If you are not testing in Oxford, you need to submit an online test application via the iStudy website.



In an Independent Study course, a student's reading comprehension and written communication skills become even more important than in traditional lecture courses because they are the student's primary means of receiving knowledge and demonstrating mastery of that knowledge. Accordingly, reading comprehension and written communication skills are necessary for success in this course.

Online Attendance Verification: The University requires that online students show active virtual participation as a substitute for physical presence. Active participation is evaluated by submission of a graded assignment within the first two weeks of the course. Simply logging in to Blackboard does not count. For iStudy, you can show engagement by taking the syllabus quiz. You will be dropped from the class if you fail to take the quiz by the end of the second week after enrollment. If you have already submitted any other assignment, you do not need to take the quiz.

Required Technology:

To take full advantage of all the features in this course, be sure you have the right technology at your fingertips. This includes:

INTERNET ACCESS: You must have access to the Internet, preferably high speed Internet, for the duration of this course.
SOFTWARE: You must have access to a computer with the following software installed:

Microsoft Office - You must have consistent access to a professional word processor and a presentation program. Alternatives to MS Office are Open Office and Star Office. (I use docx and pptx files)

Google Hangouts: free with your account

Blackboard-supported browser - Firefox 21, Chrome 27, Safari 6, and Internet Explorer 9 & 10 are compatible with the current version of Blackboard. We prefer Firefox on all computers.

Download latest versions of these apps:

Acrobat Reader

Flash Player



Computer with consistent high-speed internet access

Headset with microphone, recommended

Computer Speakers, recommended

I recommend running the Blackboard Browser Check to verify installed plug-ins on your computer.

Teaching Method:

Course Requirements: Each module will have a LearnSmart book assignment, a Connect homework/quiz assignment, a journal entry on a relevant topic, and one or two assignments to enhance understanding of the relevance of the content. All assignments will be listed in the module checklist.

Issues approach

Students should understand that this course will cover some controversial issues and the selected materials will present a scientifically relevant discussion of those topics. Students are welcome to share opinions on the topics but must be respectful, whether or not they agree with points being made in the class.

Module/Homework Assignments

McGraw-Hill Connect and Learnsmart Content ñ purchased with the required course textbook code.

LearnSmart/Smartbook Assignments (10% of grade)

LearnSmart/Smartbook assignments will accompany each chapter covered and are accessed through a link in the module. This technology is an adaptive learning system. As such, it is designed to work with a student to ensure that they are understanding the material assessed. Each assignment will be set up with an estimated completion time of 60 minutes, but depending on how prepared a student is for the chapter it may take considerably longer to complete. The assignment is a guided reading activity. The textbook is linked to practice study questions. The student is asked to first read portions of the chapter and as they make their way through are directed to practice questions. The practice questions allow the student to say whether or not they are comfortable with the material before they submit the answer and those responses are used to guide further study. Also each question typically has a link to the relevant text passages. The activity will move between reading and questions until the student demonstrates adequate knowledge of the material. Once this is done, the score will be 100%. If the student does not reach the conclusion, the score will reflect how far they progressed. I have had students find ways to ìcheat the systemî and I just want to reiterate that if you want to do well in the class, you should learn the material and use the tools that I provide to help. The chapters will always be available for study, even after the deadline for the grade.

Connect Quizzes (15% of grade)
Connect assignments will be available on the McGraw-Hill Connect site accessed by a link in the module and will cover the course content. They are designed as quizzes and you will obtain maximum scores by preparing well before you attempt the quiz. Typically you should at least read the chapter and do the LearnSmart assignment before attempting these. A student will have 2 attempts at each quiz and the questions will be randomly chosen from a pool of questions. Questions will include true/false, multiple choice, figure labeling, ordering of processes and matching. Questions may involve multiple parts or may be a single question. The assignments are set up so that the second attempt allows you to ìcorrectî the first attempt, rather than doing the entire quiz again. There are hints available to use if needed, however I am deducting a percentage from the final score if you utilize the hints or text. Once you open the hints there is only a one time deduction (not a deduction for every hint you use). Again, to reach your maximum score you should prepare for the quiz before you attempt it. After the first attempt, re-read material that you were unsure of and then take the second attempt and correct the mistakes.

Journal Entries (15% of grade)
In each module a journal entry will be required on a topic related to that moduleís content. Each journal grade will be based on content posted and how well you articulate your answer or position. There are two types of journal entries. In the first type you will be expected to take a position and/or explain a topic based on a prompt from the instructor. In the second you will choose a topic from a provided list and research it. All posts must have supporting documentation (references ñ web site addresses, book citations, etc.). You will typically need to research to find documentation for your posts. As long as you support your argument and answer the prompt adequately. The rubrics for grading are available. I will deduct credit for non-referenced posts, incorrect information and missing information. I will be monitoring all journal entries and I may request clarification or corrections be done on entries. You will have up to a week to make the corrections before the grade on that entry is finalized.Online Activities and

Assignments (10% of grade)
Modules will contain a variety of online activities and assignments that may or may not be graded (grading criteria will be contained within each assignment description).These will include web scavenger hunts, videos to watch, click and learn activities and others, along with some assessment, including writings, quizzes, etc.These will be a minimal portion of your final grade (10%) and should not be your emphasis, but should be done.These activities are provided to encourage you to learn more about the topic than you will get just from the book.

Rules for Written Assignments

Every submitted assignment must follow English grammar rules. Proper language, punctuation and sentence structure are required. Colloquialisms, slang and text talk are not appropriate. Proper biological and scientific terminology, especially related to the topic of the module, is required. Colloquialisms, slang and text talk are not appropriate. Proper biological and scientific terminology, especially related to the topic of the module, is required.

Exams (50% of grade)
There will be two proctored exams, midterm and final, in this course. The exams are taken online rather than in person with the instructor. These exams assess mastering of the content for the course and will comprise the majority of your final grade (25% each). They will cover mostly the information from the textbook chapter and will have memorization questions as well as some questions that will require a more in-depth ìunderstandingî of the content. It is the studentís responsibility to make all required arrangements for proctored assessments. For detailed instructions on how to take proctored exams go to the ìTestingî section.


The University of Mississippi is committed to the creation of inclusive learning environments for all students. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your full inclusion and participation or to accurate assessment of your achievement, please contact the course instructor as soon as possible. Barriers may include, but are not necessarily limited to, timed exams and in-class assignments, difficulty with the acquisition of lecture content, inaccessible web content or the use of non-captioned or non-transcribed video and audio files. Students must also contact Student Disability Services at 662 - 915 - 7128 so that office can:

  1. provide you with an Instructor Notification form
  2. facilitate the removal of barriers
  3. ensure you have equal access to the same opportunities for success that are available to all students

For more information, please visit their website at


You should not share your private personal passwords (for your Blackboard account or for your email) with anyone else, including brothers or sisters, boyfriends or girlfriends, or parents. Logs of all your activity within the Blackboard course environment, including the Internet location from which you are accessing Blackboard, are available to the instructor and to the Independent Study office. Any evidence of logins to a student's Blackboard course by someone other than the student will be treated as an act of academic dishonesty and will result, at minimum, with failure in the course; the student may also be subject to the more severe disciplinary actions outlined in The University Policy on Academic Dishonesty. (ACA.AR.600.001)

Academic Dishonesty is expressly prohibited by The University of Mississippi. See The University of Mississippi's M Book. This includes plagiarism and self-plagiarism. Plagiarism is not only prohibited by the university but it could also be a legal offense (ex: copyright, infringement, fraud, etc.).

To be absolutely clear, working with another person to answer submitted questions or any of the test questions is unacceptable. If it is determined that any student has violated this policy, the instructor will take the appropriate steps under The University of Mississippi's Academic Dishonesty policy. These range from failing the course to being suspended from The University of Mississippi.

If you have any questions about plagiarism please consult the web links below or contact the iStudy office.


Set aside a regular time for studying and preparing your lessons.

You can contact your instructor in one of these ways:

  1. Contact your instructor directly by using the Email Your Instructor link to send an email via Blackboard.
  2. Contact your instructor indirectly by sending a written message or email message ( to the instructor in care of the iStudy department. Your message will be promptly forwarded to the instructor.

Do not let unanswered questions keep you from getting the maximum out of each lesson.

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