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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Biology (BIOL)

BIOL 402W Biological Experimental Design (3) Discussion of experimental design, analysis and presentation, with a practicum providing for student design, analysis and presentation of biological experiments. Students may not take this course if they have taken BIOBD 350W.

BIOL 402W Biological Experimental Design (3)

This course emphasizes written and oral communication of scientific ideas. Students discuss papers from the literature, preparing written critiques of two. Critiques are reviewed in writing by the instructor and peers and may be revised twice. Peer reviews are graded in writing and may be revised once. Written proposals for biological research are required. Students must build arguments for methodological rationales, justify statistical approaches, and place their proposed research into a larger societal context. Proposals are reviewed by the instructor and three peer reviewers. Peer reviewers must prepare written critiques and present proposals to the class during an "NSF"-style panel review. Prior to the presentation, the instructor provides written and oral feedback to the author and the peer reviewer in a meeting at which strategies for presenting the proposal are discussed. Subsequent to the presentation, peer reviewers write summaries of the discussion and provide explicit guidance to authors. Proposals may be revised twice. Peer reviews and summaries are graded in writing and may be revised once. Thus, each student writes 2 critiques, 1 proposal, 2 peer reviews of critiques, 1 peer review of a proposal, and 1 summary of the panel discussion. Each assignment is graded in writing and is subject to revision. Students also are graded on their proposal presentations and on participation in panel discussions. These activities constitute 75% of the final grade.

Students must demonstrate competence in the use of SAS, a statistics package. Students must choose and apply appropriate statistical techniques to biological data. In addition to the program and its output, students write interpretations of the results. This activity constitutes 25% of the final grade.

Lectures are used to review statistics and "how tos" (e.g., proposal preparation). Case histories are used to address ethics, statistical decision-making, and design. Students are expected to challenge what they learn, and the notion that scientists must acknowledge and guard against bias in their work is emphasized. Intellectual honesty and the ability to give and receive constructive criticism are demanded.

This course is required in two of the six options in biology (ecology and general), and it can be taken by students in the other options. The course is required of students who have not fulfilled the WAC requirement at the 200-level (transfer students).


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Fall 2007
Prerequisite: at least two of the following three courses:BIOL 220W, BIOL 230W, BIOL 240W;STAT 250

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.