BISC 104 Inquiry into Life: The Environment

BISC 104 IS Sec 4, Semester, University of Mississippi
[See UM Catalog for Description]

3 credit hours

Instructor Information:

Description: Carol Cleveland

Carol Cleveland (she/her)


Telephone: (662) 205-0555 – 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: 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). I do most of my grading on weekends.  Please do not email me grade related questions before 7 days have elapsed since you turned in an assignment.

Contact Information:

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
Division 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

Course Description and Objectives

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.

In this course you will learn informationthat you can use to evaluate news stories and participate in informed discussions of the development and validity of evolutionary thought as well as the ramifications of human impact on the biosphere and environment.The class applies to the science requirement of the core curriculum at The University of Mississippi. The associated laboratory is BISC 103 and cannot be taken online.

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • Course Objective 1 (CO1) - Describe the processes driving evolution and diversity of life on Earth and evaluate scientifically supported evidence for evolution.
  • Course Objective 2 (CO2) - Compare and contrast relationships among the diverse life forms of Earth, including microorganisms, animals, fungi, and plants.
  • Course Objective 3 (CO3) - Describe and compare the structure and function of plants, including the process of photosynthesis.
  • Course Objective 4 (CO4) - Distinguish between population, community and ecosystem ecology and be able to describe processes involved in ecological relationships among organisms.

Textbook Information:

Textbook information will be provided upon enrollment in your iStudy course.

Course Outline:

This course consists of 12 instructional modules within 4 unit modules. Please note that the suggested Pacing Guide to complete the course in a traditional semester is written for Fall and Spring. Full summer students need to make adjustments due to the significantly shorter time period involved.

BISC 104 Teaching Method
The student is expected to have read assigned materials as listed on the course schedule for each module. The assignments within each module emphasize the primary concepts from each chapter and must be completed before the quiz on the module is taken. Because of the nature of this class, it is essential that each student allocate adequate time to prepare for every module. Do not procrastinate! This course requires a significant amount of work and time.

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

Course Requirements:

The course is broken into 4 units, each of which is made up of 3 modules. There will be a proctored midterm exam over units 1 and 2 and proctored final exam over units 3 and 4.  Each module will have an overview introductory video and study tools including slide show files, outline summaries, and publisher animations.  Other suggested tools may be provided for the student to utilize while learning the factual content of the course. The required / graded assignments in each module will include SmartBook readings of 1 chapter, a Module Connect assignment, a 20-question objective Blackboard Module Quiz and a Module Learning (reflective) Journal entry.  All assignments will be listed in the module checklist.  Each Unit will also have an introductory folder with relevant readings, videos, and web links.  At the end of each Unit there will be a Unit Synopsis Assignment that will be a graded assignment.  Course, Unit, and Module Objectives are listed in appropriate folders.

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

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.  References must be provided in APA format.  Unit Synopsis Assignments are submitted through SafeAssign and plagiarism scores should be used to guide your submission.  High scores (>25%) are unacceptable.

Graded Assignment Descriptions:

  • Exams (50% of grade)
    There will be two proctored exams, a midterm, comprehensive over Units 1 and 2 and a final, comprehensive over Units 3 and 4. The exams are taken "on-line" rather than in person with the instructor. They may be taken at one of the University’s proctored testing centers or through Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor. These exams assess mastering of the factual content for the course and will comprise most of your final grade (25% each).  They will cover mostly the information from the textbook chapter and will have lower-level recall/understanding questions.  There will be some questions that will require a more in-depth synthesis of the content.  There will be a practice exam available for each of these exams so that the student can determine their readiness for the proctored exam.
  • SmartBook Adaptive Reading Assignments (5% of grade)
    McGraw-Hill SmartBook Adaptive reading – access purchased with the required course textbook code. 
    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 you to ensure you understand the material assessed. This tool is a guided reading activity where the textbook is linked to practice study questions. You are asked to first read portions of the chapter and as you make your way through you are directed to practice questions. The practice questions allow you to say whether or not you are comfortable with the material before you 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 you demonstrate adequate knowledge of the material.
  • Connect Module Assignments (10% 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 homework quizzes, and you will obtain maximum scores by preparing well before you attempt them. Typically, you should at least watch the summary video, read the chapter, and do the SmartBook assignment before attempting these. A student will have 2 attempts at each assignment 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. 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.  The highest score will be used in grade calculation for each module Connect assignment.
  • Module Learning Journals (10% of grade)
    In each module a journal entry will be required. These journals are to be written as a learning journal or a reflective piece.  The description for each has a set of questions that you should consider, and grades will be assigned based on the thought and consideration put into the entry, not just a completion grade.  There will be articles on writing learning journals provided in the Introductory Module.  The rubric for grading is available. 
  • Blackboard Module Quizzes (10% of grade)
    A summary quiz over all the material in a module will be taken before proceeding to the next module. These quizzes will cover learning objectives for the module and will consist of 20 multiple choice questions from the chapter in the module. These quizzes are done in Blackboard and will be similar in format to questions that will be on the unit exams. The average of all quizzes will make up 10% of the final grade and 1 quiz will be dropped at the end of the course.
  • Unit Synopsis Assignments (15% of grade)
    • Will require the student to utilize the application/introductory material provided in each Unit to synthesize and address understanding of the relevancy of the biological principles covered in the Unit.
    • May include a discussion of health issue with connections to the principles or may include a synthesis of material provided in the introductory folder for the Unit.
    • Will allow the student to address Unit Learning objectives and course objectives related to diseases and current relevant topics.
    • Students will have 2 submission attempts for these assignments and should use their second attempt after the instructor has graded and commented on the first submission to improve their final score.

Downloading Note: A symbol for the Blackboard Ally tool ( ) appears beside many links within the course site.  Clicking this link allows you to choose alternative formats for the material, but you should NOT use this as your default option for downloading course material; use the primary link provided by your instructor first, and reserve the alternative formats for use on an as-needed basis. You can learn more about the alternative format options at this Blackboard Ally Information for Students link.

Course Schedule BISC 104 iStudy v4

Course Outline:

Module Material Assignments Suggested Pacing Guide to complete the course in a traditional semester.
*Summer session students will need to make adjustments due to the shorter time period*
Syllabus *You MUST complete the syllabus quiz as soon as you have access to your Blackboard course. This is mandatory to verify your attendance.*
NOTE: you must pass the Syllabus and Orientation Quiz for the course materials to appear on the Lessons page.
  • Syllabus Quiz
Week 1
Introductory Module Read syllabus
Lesson summary
Familiarize with Blackboard
  • Syllabus Quiz
  • Log in and register for McGraw-Hill Connect and LearnSmart
  • Discussion – Introduce Yourself
Week 1
Unit 1
Introduction to Evolution
1 Forces of Evolutionary Change
Text Chapter 12
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 12
  • Module 1 Connect Assignment
  • Module 1 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 1 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 2-3
2 Evidence of Evolution
Text Chapter 13
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 13
  • Module 2 Connect Assignment
  • Module 2 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 2 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 2-3
3 Speciation and Extinction
Text Chapter 14
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 14
  • Module 3 Connect Assignment
  • Module 3 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 3 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 2-3
Unit 1 Application Introduction to Evolution
Chapters 12, 13, 14
Introductory Material
  • Unit 1 Synopsis Assignment - Theory of Evolution
Week 4
Unit 2
Diversity of Life Survey
4 Diversity of Microbial Life
Text Chapter 15
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 15
  • Module 4 Connect Assignment
  • Module 4 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 4 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 5-6
5 Diversity of Plants
Text Chapter 16
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 16
  • Module 5 Connect Assignment
  • Module 5 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 5 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 5-6
6 Diversity of Animals Readings:
Text Chapter 17
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 17
  • Module 6 Connect Assignment
  • Module 6 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 6 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 5-6
Unit 2 Application Diversity of Life Survey
Chapters 15, 16, 17
Introductory Material
  • Unit 2 Synopsis Assignment - Tree of Life
Week 7
Midterm Exam Proctored or Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor or Testing Center
  • Chapters 12-17
Week 8
MIDPOINT OF COURSE If you are a semester student, you must reach the midpoint of your course by the date specified in your orientation information.
If you are a Flex UM student, you CANNOT WITHDRAW from this course after the exam has been submitted.
All lesson assignments needed to reach the midpoint of the course The exact date semester students are required to reach the midpoint is specified in your information.
Unit 3
Plant Biology
7 Plant Anatomy
Text Chapter 21
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 21
  • Module 7 Connect Assignment
  • Module 7 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 7 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 9-10
8 Plant Reproduction
Text Chapter 22
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 22
  • Module 8 Connect Assignment
  • Module 8 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 8 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 9-10
9 Capture of Solar Energy
Text Chapter 5
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 5
  • Module 9 Connect Assignment
  • Module 9 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 9 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 9-10
Unit 3 Application Plant Biology
Chapters 21, 22, 5
Introductory Material
  • Unit 3 Synopsis Assignment - Uses of Plants
Week 11
Unit 4
Ecology and Biodiversity
10 Population Ecology
Text Chapter 18
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 18
  • Module 10 Connect Assignment
  • Module 10 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 10 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 12-13
11 Interactions between Species
Text Chapter 19
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 19
  • Module 11 Connect Assignment
  • Module 11 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 11 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 12-13
12 What Can We Do?
Text Chapter 20
  • Smartbook Reading Chapter 20
  • Module 12 Connect Assignment
  • Module 12 Blackboard Quiz
  • Module 12 Learning Journal Entry
Weeks 12-13
Unit 4 Application Ecology and Biodiversity
Chapters 18, 19, 20
Introductory Material
  • Unit 4 Synopsis Assignment - Conservation and Biodiversity
Week 14
Final Exam Proctored
Testing Center or Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor
All lesson assignments needed to reach the conclusion of the course To be completed to finalize credit
All course work must be submitted to be eligible to sit for the Final Exam


GRADING SCALE: It is the policy of the School of Accountancy not to use the +/- grading scale.
A 90-100%
A- 88-89.9%
B+ 85-87.9%
B 80-84.9%
B- 78-79.9%
C+ 75-77.9%
C 70-74.9%
C- 68-69.9%
D 60-67.9%
F Below 60

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

Smartbook Adaptive Reading Assignment (12): 5% (drop lowest 1 score)
Connect Module Assignments (12): 10% (drop lowest score)
Module Learning Journal Entries (12): 10%
Blackboard Module Quizzes (12): 10% (drop lowest score)
Unit Synopsis Assignments (4): 15%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 25%


You must submit the lessons required to take the course exam(s). Lessons required but not submitted will receive a grade of zero. For the final exam, all coursework must be submitted and graded.