Life on Earth

Life on Earth


Credit Spring 2021
01/19/2021 - 05/16/2021

Course Information

Section 012
Distance Learning
Elizabeth Maxim

Office Hours

  • M
    4:30 - 6:30 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1408
  • T
    3:00 - 4:30
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1409
  • T
    4:30 - 6:30 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 2306
  • W
    1:30 - 3:00 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1408
  • Th
    3:00 - 5:00 pm
    Blackboard Collaborate
    For BIOL 1309

Course Requirements

The course is divided into five units.  These units should be completed in order.

There is a study guide that is central to the course.  The study guide includes some text that explains major concepts for each section and guides you through the textbook, readings and online videos/activities.

Each unit will have one graded homework assignment which you will complete and submit to your instructor through Blackboard. 

The class will be divided into discussion groups.  For each week, discussion topics will be posted for students to discuss online.  You can also discuss study guide questions and concepts if your discussion group has covered all the discussion topics.  You will be graded on your participation  and discussion topics will be covered on the exams.

During each unit, you will need to: 1) Read the material in the study guide. 2) Read the assigned textbook material. 3) Watch online videos and/or complete online activities. 4) Answer all study guide questions. 5) Do your homework assignment and turn it in on time. 6) Prepare materials for posting to your discussion group, make your posts on time, and on separate days 7) Study everything you have done. 8) Take the exam over these materials.


REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS You will need the following items:

1. BIOL 1309 Life on Earth Study Guide, 4th edition (updated) for Speer & Maxim, November 2018 by BIOL 1309 Redesign Team.  The study guide is not available in the ACC Bookstore. You will download and print the study guide from this  course’s Blackboard site.  

2. The Tangled Bank ACC Special Edition by Carl Zimmer.  2016.  McMillan Learning Curriculum Solutions. Only available from the ACC Bookstore.

3. Life of Mammals, episode 1. DVDs are available in ACC libraries (CYP, ELG, EVC, HLC, HYS, NRG, RRC, RVS, SAC) and streaming online through the ACC Library website (using Kanopy). You will need to watch sections of this video twice. (Study Guide Sec. 7, pp 69-71 and Sec.12, pp 112-114). 

4.  Discussion group topics, available in the unit folders of the course Blackboard site.

5.  Homework assignments, available in the unit folders of the course Blackboard site.

Course Subjects

Section 1: Science as a Process

Section 2: Classification and Scientific Nomenclature

Section 3: Evolution--An Introduction

Section 4: Darwin and Natural Selection

Section 5: What the Rocks Say: The Fossil Record

Section 6: First Life, The Videos: Evolutionary history of animals

Section 7: The Tree of Life: Phylogenetic trees and how to read them

Section 8: The Ways of Change: Genes, Mutations, Reproduction (asexual and sexual), major evolutionary mechanisms: genetic drift, natural selection, sexual selection

Section 9: The History in Our Genes: Molecular evidence for evolution

Section 10: Adaptations

Section 11: The Origin of Species

Section 12: Radiations and Extinctions

Section 13: Intimate Partnerships: Coevolution, symbiosis

Section 14: Primate and Hominid Evolution


Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

Course Rationale: This course was designed for students who are primarily non-science majors.  Through the use of a study guide, textbook readings, good science videos, web-based homework assignments and/or discussion groups, students are introduced to evolution and evolutionary mechanisms that have led to the amazing biodiversity of planet Earth.  This course will introduce the major groups of organisms, their characteristics, adaptations, and evolutionary relationships.

Student Learning Outcomes Course-Level for Life on Earth: Specific skills and competencies expected of students who complete this course include:

• Ability to explain evolutionary relationships among different organisms

• Ability to explain evolutionary mechanisms

• Ability to discuss adaptations, using several different examples

• Ability to apply biological concepts to new examples

General Education for Life on Earth: As a Core Curriculum course, students completing this course will demonstrate competence in:

• Critical Thinking: Gathering, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and applying information

• Interpersonal Skills: Interacting collaboratively to achieve common goals

• Quantitative and Empirical Reasoning: Applying mathematical, logical, and scientific principles and methods

• Written, Oral and Visual Communication: Communicating effectively, adapting to purpose, structure, audience, and medium