Learning Outcomes

The IBIS curriculum presents topics in a modular form. We utilize concepts of backward curricular design and the 5E instructional model in IBIS. In backwards design, Intended Learning Outcomes (iLO) are first identified and subsequently, course materials are designed to facilitate the constructivist approach of the 5E instructional model.  Each module is centered on a framing scenario that serves to engage students in the material and provide a context for them to explore the iLOs.

Scientific Inquiry Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Distinguish among ideas that can and cannot be tested by science; evaluate statements and determine which are scientific or and which are not scientific.
  2. Create and defend a scientific argument by identifying and evaluating valid sources of scientific evidence.
  3. Distinguish among the scientific terms: theory, hypothesis, and prediction.
  4. Construct hypotheses to explain biological phenomena:
    1. Propose hypotheses that are appropriate to the given scenario or question.
    2. Evaluate several hypotheses to select the one which best explains observations, or is best supported by data.
    3. Predict what would be most likely to occur under given experimental conditions in a test of a specific hypothesis, and justify predictions using biological concepts.
  5. Design experiments to test biological hypotheses:
    1. Identify the dependent and independent variables, and control and experimental treatments in any experiment.
    2. Identify situations in which no “control treatment” is appropriate, and design an experiment where subjects are tested more than once or the experimental treatment levels take a wide range of values.
    3. Justify the steps and procedures for an experiment.
  6. Create graphs from a data set.
    1. Decide what type of graph is the most appropriate type to display a data set.
    2. Decide to which axis each variable should be assigned in order to represent a specific hypothesis properly.
  7. Use experimental results to support or refute a hypothesis:
    1. Interpret graphs and/or raw data with respect to a hypothesis
    2. Distinguish correlation from causation, and correctly attribute phenomena to biological mechanisms.
    3. Demonstrate how to distinguish observations/data resulting from a specific cause from those caused by random chance.
    4. Explain why experimental evidence may lead to multiple interpretations, and propose ways to address this limitation (e.g., many samples should be taken, many related experiments should be performed).
  8. Interpret and communicate scientific ideas effectively
    1. Use the conventions of scientific writing, including images and graphs, e.g. in laboratory reports.
    2. Interpret and paraphrase information from valid sources, such as the textbook and the primary literature.
  9. Explain why hypotheses and even theories may be subject to revision.

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Life Learning Outcomes
  1. List and explain the characteristics of life.
  2. Use these characteristics of life to distinguish between living and nonliving things.
  3. Define homeostasis, and describe its importance to maintaining life.
  4. Compare and contrast the biological/medical, legal, and ethical definitions of life and death, and discuss the importance of defining life and death.


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Chemistry Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain why water is essential to life and how the characteristics of polarity and hydrogen bonding are important for this role.
  2. Identify the four macromolecules, and define their roles/functions in a cell.
  3. Explain the difference between ionic, covalent, and hydrogen bonds, and identify the relative strength of each type of bond.
  4. Predict which type of bond would be formed between two (or more) atoms.
  5. Describe the relationship between monomers and polymers, and give examples for each type of biological macromolecule listed below:
    1. Proteins
    2. Nucleic acids (RNA, DNA)
    3. Carbohydrates
  6. Explain what an enzyme is and how it influences the rate of biological reactions.
  7. Define active site and its role in enzyme function.
  8. Describe and predict how environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and pH) can influence protein structure and the shape of the active site of an enzyme.

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Cell Learning Outcomes
  1. Identify the function of cell components, especially:
    1. Nucleus
    2. Mitochondria
    3. Chloroplasts
    4. Ribosomes
    5. Rough and Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum
    6. Vesicles
    7. Golgi
    8. Cell Membrane
    9. Cytoplasm
    10. Cell Wall
    11. Vacuoles
  2. Identify which cell components are found in:
    1. all cells
    2. prokaryotes (Eubacteria, Archaea)
    3. eukaryotes
      1. Animals
      2. Plants
      3. Protists
      4. Fungi
  3. Predict the organismal group to which an unknown cell might belong from a description of its components.
  4. Predict the possible functions of an unknown cell depending on its components.
  5. Predict the abundance of particular organelles depending on a cell’s functions.

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Ratio of surface area-to-volume (SA/V) Learning Outcomes
  1. Calculate the ratio of surface area-to-volume of an object, and explain why the ratio decreases as objects get larger and increases as objects get smaller.
  2. Explain how the ratio of surface area-to-volume plays a role in regulating:
    1. Rates of diffusion and osmosis
    2. Gas exchange
    3. Body temperature
  3. Given environmental conditions, predict the SA/V ratio that would be selected by natural selection, and explain how this could be a mechanism of evolution.

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Gradients Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain what a gradient is and the role of gradients in:
    1. Homeostasis
    2. Thermoregulation
    3. Osmoregulation
    4. Chemical reactions associated with metabolism
  2. Identify whether a chemical or energy gradient exists in new situations
  3. Indicate the direction of energy or material movement under different conditions such as:
    1. Chemical concentrations
    2. Temperature
    3. Permeability of membranes
  4. Indicate the relative rate of energy or material movement under different conditions including:
    1. chemical concentrations
    2. temperature
    3. permeability of membranes
    4. varied shape (surface-to-volume ratio)

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Membrane Transport Learning Outcomes
  1. Identify the components of cell membranes, and explain how the arrangement of components makes the membrane semi-permeable.
  2. Explain how processes of transport work including:
    1. Diffusion
      1. Passive
      2. Facilitated
    2. Osmosis
      1. Passive
      2. Facilitated
    3. Active transport
  3. Define the following terms, and explain how they relate to the movement of materials across a membrane:
    1. Isotonic
    2. Hypotonic
    3. Hypertonic
  4. Explain how larger objects/molecules cross membranes by exocytosis, endocytosis, and phagocytosis, and predict when each of these transport mechanisms is used.
  5. Predict how the following conditions affect membrane transport:
    1. gradient conditions
    2. temperature
    3. ATP availability
    4. changes in permeability
    5. molecule size, charge, or polarity

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Thermoregulation Learning Outcomes
  1. Apply the terms endotherm, ectotherm, poikilotherm/heterotherm, and homeotherm to organisms
  2. Identify organisms as endotherms, ectotherms, poikilotherms/heterotherms, and homeotherms based on
    1. physical characteristics
    2. behavior
    3. metabolic changes
    4. membership in taxonomic groups (birds, mammals, etc.)
    5. changes in body temperature measurements
  3. Predict the effect of varying environmental temperatures on an organism’s behavioral or metabolic responses including:
    1. enzyme activity
    2. locomotion
    3. body temperature
  4. Interpret data/graphs as they relate to the effect of varying environmental temperatures on an organism’s behavioral or metabolic responses including:
    1. enzyme activity
    2. locomotion
    3. body temperature
  5. Design or critique simple experiments to test the effect of varying environmental temperatures on an organism’s behavioral or metabolic responses including:
    1. enzyme activity
    2. locomotion
    3. body temperature
  6. Explain how various temperature regulation methods serve to heat or cool an organism including:
    1. avoidance
    2. altering metabolic rate
    3. behaviorally adjusting posture, ratio of surface area-to-volume, and location
    4. explain how ratio of surface area-to-volume is involved in heat retention or loss
  7. Explain why organisms thermoregulate.
  8. Explain mechanisms of heat generation at the cellular level

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Osmoregulation Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain why organisms osmoregulate.
  2. For different habitats (ocean, freshwater, on land, etc.), predict whether ions or water need to be conserved.
  3. Describe how organisms osmoregulate in different habitats, on the:
    1. cellular level, using active and passive transport across membranes
    2. individual organism level, in terms of inputs and outputs
  4. Compare and contrast how organisms osmoregulate in different habitats.

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