Biology 251

Fall 2015

Tues and Thurs 12:00 – 1:15 PM



Instructor:                  Dr. Patrick A. Carter, Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Heald 217

Instructor email:        pacarter(at)

Office Hours:             Mon 1:10 to 2:00; Tues & Thurs 1:15 to 2:00; or by appointment                

Textbook Bundle:     Stanfield. Principles of Human Physiology, 5th Edition.  PhysioEx 9.0 lab book & cd, and Interactive Physiology 10 System Suite cd, bundled with the textbook. Available at the Bookie and Crimson and Gray. 

Lab Manual:              Zoo 251 Lab Manual. Available at the Bookie or Crimson and Gray.

Required Software:  Top Hat.  Will be used for in-class quizzes, homework, and information dissemination.  You will be contacted by Top Hat directly and will be charged $24 when you register on their website.

Top Hat URL: 

Top Hat Support:

Class Web Page:

Syllabus (pdf):           Syllabus

Plagiarism Statement:  Plagiarism

TA Contact Information: taofficehours.pdf




Exam 2 Information


Exam 2 is on Tuesday 6 October from Noon to 1:15 PM (regular class time). 

No cell phones!!

Bring your student id!

Bring a number 2 pencil!!!


Wed afternoon and Thurs night labs (Steven Micheletti TA) AND Thurs afternoon and Friday morning labs (Erin Wiese TA) take exam in Todd 216.

All Other Labs: Regular Lecture Hall (Fulmer 226) 

If you are using a lab grade from a previous semester, take the exam in the regular lecture hall, Fulmer 226.


Review session: Monday 5 October from 5:10 to 7:00 PM in Heald Aud.


Exam 2 Study Materials:

Study Guide

Practice Exam

Practice Exam Key

Note: These practice exams are actual exams from previous years. Use them at your own risk; some material covered in previous years is no longer covered in class, and new material has been added that you will not find represented on old exams. 



Exam 1


The mean on Exam 1 is a 68%; therefore there is a 2% curve correction.  In addition, because of the snafu with missing exams, I have given everyone in the class an additional 5% grade bump, so the overall mean after adjustments for Exam 1 is a 75%.  (Note: the mean score of the 90 students who had to wait to get their exams was exactly the same as the mean score for the rest of the class.)


If your adjusted score is 55% or lower you should seriously consider dropping the class before Tuesday Sept 22nd at 5 PM, which is the last day to drop a class without record.  Exam 1 is the easiest exam and is highly correlated with final grades; if you did not do well on Exam 1, it is unlikely that you will perform well on the rest of the exams.  I am happy to discuss your situation with you at office hours on Monday or Tuesday.


Click on the link below to see your adjusted score; this adjusted score has the extra 7% included (2% for the curve correction and 5%  for the SNAFU correction).  Note that to make this percentage correction I added 4 points to everyones raw point total, e.g., if you scored 50 points out of the 54 points available (92.6%), I added 4 points so that you now have a 54 out of 54 (100%).  EX1 is your adjusted point total out of 54; EX1P is your adjusted percent score. 


Exam 1 Grades (last updated 18 Sept 8 AM)


Key For Exam 1 White

Key For Exam 2 Green


Exam 1 Study Materials:

Study Guide

Practice Exam

Practice Exam Key



Human Physiology in the News:


Great Article on Overhydration in Athletes; note that you will be examining osmotic effects on cell integrity in lab the second week of the semester.


Obituary of Dr. Oliver Sacks.  If you have not read any of his books, you should.


Statins and the new drug to lower cholesterol.


New Study Recommends Very Low Blood Pressure Standards


Very interesting interview with neuroscientist Cornelia Bargmann


Answers to student questions:


Does Lactic Acid buildup during anaerobic exercise cause muscle soreness? (thank you Mariah!)


Can tetanus be treated once a person is infected?  (Thank you Haley!)


What causes Blue Balls? (Thank you Wendy!!) 

Actual Scientific paper on Blue Balls


Why diabetes causes abdominal pain (Thank you Connor! Note, you will need to use your WSU login to access this information)



Biology 251 Topics

Fall 2015

(click on a topic link to get a pdf of the lecture notes)

(figure numbers in the lecture notes refer to figures in the textbook)














25 Aug



Organization of the Body & Homeostasis

Ch 1

Mandatory Attendance: Check In

27 Aug



The Cell          

29-39; 72-89

1 Sept



Cell Membrane

29-32; Ch 4

Diffusion, Osmosis & Membrane Transport

3 Sep



Neurons: Graded & Action Potentials Special AP Figure

Ch 7

8 Sep



Neurons: Synapses & Integration

Ch 8

PhysioEx: Nerve Impulses (Exercise 3)






10 Sep



Central Nervous System

Ch 9

15 Sep



Peripheral Nervous System: Afferent Division  tastefigs

254-262; 295-299


17 Sep



EXAM 1 Topics 1 to 5 (54 points)


22 Sep*



Peripheral Nervous System: Efferent Division  HumSexFig

Ch 11

Sensory Responses

24 Sep



The Endocrine System

Ch 6

29 Sep



Thyroid and Reproductive Hormones

624-626; 638-663;

PhysioEx: The Endocrine System (Exercise 4)






1 Oct



Skeletal Muscle: Molecular Basis of Contraction



6 Oct



EXAM 2 Topics 6 to 10 (54 points)


Skeletal Muscle

8 Oct



Skeletal Muscle: Mechanics


13 Oct



Smooth & Cardiac Muscle


Smooth Muscle + Library Session Owen 319D

15 Oct



Cardiovascular System: Anatomy & Electrical Activity of Heart


* Last day to drop class without record

20 Oct



Cardiovascular System: Mechanics & Control of the Heart


HR, BP & ECG: Formal Lab Report on this exercise

22 Oct



Cardiovascular System: Blood Vessels


27 Oct



Cardiovascular System: Blood & BP

419-429;    Ch 15

Animal Heart Rate








29 Oct



Respiratory System: Mechanics

Ch 16

3 Nov



EXAM 3  Topics 11 to 17 (78 points)



5 Nov



Respiratory System: Control; Gas Exchange & Transport

Ch 17

10 Nov



Urinary System: Overview & Filtration


No Labs--Time for working on lab reports

12 Nov



Urinary System: Reabsorption, Secretion, & Excretion


17 Nov



Fluid Balance



PhysioEx: The Kidney (Exercise 9). Lab Reports due.

19 Nov



Acid Base Balance


24 Nov



Thanksgiving Break



26 Nov



Thanksgiving Break


1 Dec



Exam 4 Review


PhysioEx: Acid Base Balance (Exercise 10).

3 Dec



EXAM 4: Topics 18 - 23 (64 points)


8 Dec



Immune System

Ch 23

Mandatory Attendance: Final Grade Check

10 Dec



Health Challenges of the 21st Century

No reading







17 Dec



EXAM 5: Cumulative Final Topics 1 – 25 (100 pts) 8:00 to 10:00 AM



































Course Objectives:  Most students in Biology 251 are pursuing careers in Health or Exercise Sciences.  For many of you, Biology 251 will be your primary exposure to human physiology while an undergraduate.  You need to learn how the healthy human body functions before you can learn in future classes how exercise, disease and injury alter function.  My objective in teaching this course is to ensure that you learn human physiology well enough to be successful in future classes, professional exams, and careers.  Your task is to read the assigned pages in the textbook, attend lectures and laboratories and study and THINK about the material.  By doing this, you will be able to perform well on exams and quizzes, you will learn the material well enough to be able to use it in your future classes and career, and you will make this course a satisfying intellectual experience.


Student Learning Outcomes: The School of Biological Sciences has 6 Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) which all SBS majors must strive to master.  A course can focus on one or more of these SLOs.  In Biol 251 you will be exposed to all 6.  Here are the SLOs and how you will achieve them:


Class Activity

1. Understand and explain major biological concepts.

Fundamental goal of lecture and lab is to teach core concepts in physiology.

2. Use critical thinking and scientific skills to analyze and solve problems.

Lab exercises, quiz and exam questions will require critical problem solving abilities.

3. Effectively communicate biological problems and solutions to both the scientific community and the public at large in writing and in discussion.

Lab exercises; formal lab report; formal and informal discussion in lab and lecture.

4. Formulate logical hypotheses and test them by designing and running appropriate experiments or observational studies and analyses.

Experiments in the laboratory portion of the course.

5. Identify the central body of knowledge in biology or zoology (genetics, evolution, ecology and organismal biology, molecular biology).

Physiology is a central component of organismal biology; lecture and lab will teach the major concepts of this area of biology.

6. Use scientific literacy and knowledge of biology or zoology to analyze contemporary social, cultural, and environmental issues and contribute to informed opinion.

Use knowledge of human physiology to assess contemporary issues in human medicine in lab and lecture discussions, quizzes and exams.

How to Do Well:  This course covers a great deal of complex and interrelated material. You must understand topics covered early in the course to be able to comprehend information presented later in the course, and you will have to be able to integrate material that you learn throughout the course.  Therefore it is imperative that you do not fall behind.  You can take several steps to increase your ability to comprehend and remember material.


1)  Do the assigned reading for a topic BEFORE the lecture even if you don’t understand all the details at first.  Being familiar with topics beforehand will allow you to get the most out of lecture. 

2)  When reading a given chapter, first skim the section called “Chapter Summary” at the end of the chapter to get an overview of the important concepts in the chapter, then read the chapter itself.

3) Within 24 hours of a lecture, rewrite your lecture notes, practice drawing crucial figures, REVIEW ANIMATIONS on the Interactive Physiology cd, and write practice exam questions on that lecture.  This will force you to review and integrate the material while it is fresh in your mind, and it will provide you and your friends with practice exams to take before each real exam.

4)  Topics in this course build on each other.  For example, you must understand electrochemical gradients to understand how neurons function, and you need to understand how neurons function to understand muscle function, and you need to understand muscle function to understand cardiac function.  Thus make sure that when you study a topic, you understand it well enough to be able to remember it and use it later in the course.

5)  Do NOT fall behind in your reading and studying; you will find it impossible to catch up once you fall behind in a course of this type.  To learn this material, you WILL have to spend numerous hours outside of class reading and studying.  Make sure you set aside regular times outside of class to work on the course material; you should plan on at least 6 to 8 hours per week of study time.


Class Notes: My lecture notes for each class meeting will be available on the course web page ( by 5 PM the day before the lecture.  Bring these notes to class.


Exams and Grades:  Your final grade will be determined from exam scores and from the laboratory score; you will be assigned a final letter grade based on your total course points.  The total number of points available is 500: 250 of these come from semester exams, 100 come from the cumulative final, 100 come from the lab, and 50 come from lecture and home quizzes.  No extra credit will be available.


All grading scales are “curved”.  Traditionally, the mean score plus or minus one standard deviation is given a grade of C, scores between plus 1 and plus 2 standard deviations are given a B, scores greater than plus 2 standard deviations are given an A, scores between minus 1 and minus 2 standard deviations are given a D and scores less than minus 2 standard deviations are given an F.


I use a slight variant of this system that offers a big incentive to students to do well and that is easy to understand.  I only curve “up”, and when I do, I adjust the mean to a 70% to facilitate translation of the curved scale to the letter scale with which most students are familiar.  So, for example, if the mean score is 65%, all students have 5% added to their scores to bring the mean up to a 70%.  However, I never curve “down”; if the mean is an 80%, I leave it at 80%; I do NOT take 10% away from each student’s score.  This means that all students in the class could earn A’s and B’s.  In addition, score standard deviations in the class tend to be large, so the “C range” is larger than in a traditional system.


Once the curve has been adjusted (if needed), letter grades are assigned as follows:


A = 92.50% and up

A- = 90.0% to 92.49%

B+ = 87.50% to 89.99%

B = 82.50% to 87.49%

B- = 80.0% to 82.49%

C+ = 75.0% to 79.99%

C = 65.0% to 74.99%

C- = 60.0% to 64.99%

D = 50.0% to 59.99%

F = 49.99% or less


You will have four 75 minute in-class semester exams that will be worth a grand total of 250 points.  Exams may contain multiple choice, true-false, and/or matching questions.  Each of these exams will cover between 5 and 7 topics worth of material and will be scored according to the amount of material.  Exam 1 will cover 5 topics and be worth 54 points.  Exam 2 will cover 5 topics and be worth 54 points.  Exam 3 will cover 7 topics and be worth 78 points.  Exam 4 will cover 6 topics and be worth 64 points.  Exam questions will be written from material covered in lecture and/or the notes; I will also give several questions on every exam that will require you to integrate or apply knowledge in novel ways.


If the point total on your exam was summed incorrectly, please see me immediately, and I will fix the problem.  Ensure that your exam total is the sum of all the points you received on the exam.  If you think that you supplied a correct answer for a question, but did not receive points for that answer, you have SEVEN DAYS after receiving your graded exam in which to resubmit your exam to me, with a WRITTEN explanation of which points you should receive and why you should receive them.  I will NOT entertain verbal requests for additional points.


The final exam will be on Thursday 17 December from 8:00 to 10:00 AM, will be in multiple choice, true-false, and/or matching question format, and will be worth 100 points.  You will have 2 hours to complete the final exam.

Review sessions will be held prior to each semester exam and before the final exam.  Dates and times will be announced the second week of class.  A Study Guide and Review Questions from previous exams will be provided prior to all semester exams and the final exam. 


If you miss an exam, you will receive a score of 0 for that exam.  If you have what I consider to be a legitimate excuse for missing an exam, and if you inform me of this before the exam, you will be allowed to take a cumulative make-up exam on Thursday 10 December at 1:30 PM in Heald 201. NO make-up for the FINAL exam will be given.  Missing more than 1 exam will result in a grade of F or I (depending on circumstances) for the course. 


The laboratory is worth 100 points, which is 20% of your total grade. This grade will be determined from quizzes and assignments given during lab and from a formal lab report which is worth 25% of your lab grade.  It is quite difficult to make up missed labs, and missing more than two labs will result in an F or I for the course.  Laboratory scores are normalized across TAs at the end of the semester so that no students are at a disadvantage for differences in TA grading styles.  A passing grade in the laboratory is required to pass the course.


In-class and at-home quizzes using the Top Hat software system are worth a total of 50 points.  There will be approximately 2 to 4 points of quiz credit available each lecture, starting week 2, using this system; questions may be on material recently covered or about to be covered.  I know students occasionally have to miss class for legitimate reasons, and that there may be occasional software glitches, therefore each student is expected to attempt a minimum of 80% of the questions.  The Top Hat grade will be calculated by taking the percentage of points earned and multiplying it by 50 points; e.g., a student who earns a 90% on her Top Hat grade will get 45 of the 50 available Top Hat points.  If a student attempts less than 80% of the questions, then his/her Top Hat score will be reduced by 30 percentage points, e.g., a score of 95% on Top Hat questions will be reduced to 65%. 


Cheating on an exam or a laboratory assignment (including plagiarism) will result in a grade of F for the entire course and will result in additional disciplinary action by the University.  Cell phones must be stowed in a backpack or pocket during an exam; a visible cell phone during an exam will be considered hard evidence of cheating and will result in a grade of F for the entire course and will result in additional disciplinary action by the University.  The instructors assume you have read and understand the plagiarism policy posted on the course web page.


Disabilities:  Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please either visit or call the Access Center (Washington Building 217; 509-335-3417) to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All accommodations MUST be approved through the Access Center. For more information contact a Disability Specialist at 509-335-3417,, or at  If you have a documented disability, please see me so that we can make needed arrangements.


Safety: Washington State University is committed to enhancing the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It is highly recommended that you review the Campus Safety Plan ( and visit the Office of Emergency Management web site ( for a comprehensive listing of university policies, procedures, statistics, and information related to campus safety, emergency management, and the health and welfare of the campus community.


Departmental and University Policies:  The School of Biological Sciences offers Biology 251 in the Fall and Summer semesters only.  Students may only attempt the course twice; using a withdraw does NOT count as one of these attempts.  If a grade of C or better is earned on the first attempt, the course may NOT be taken a second time during the academic year but may be taken again in the summer.  A student taking the course for the second time may be excused from the lab portion of the course if and only if the lab grade during the first attempt was an 80% or higher AND the average on all exams except the final was a 50% or higher.