Intro to Biology - 5 Units


4 hours lecture/3 hours lab, One additional hour to be arranged

Instructor: Judy Cuff-Alvarado  

  • Students must attend TWO lectures per week.

  • Students must attend ONE lab per week.

Instructor's Contact Information:

  • email: (Please feel free to email but be sure to put BIO10 in the subject box of all emails)

  • Office : KC215

  • Phone: 408-864-8640 

  • Instructor webpage: 

Course Description: An introduction to biology as a branch of the biological sciences and to its basic unifying principles, with selected application to the scientific method, evolutionary concepts, genetic modification , biotechnology, ecology, ecological crises and human impacts.

Advisory: English Writing 100B, and Reading 100 (or Language Arts 100) or English as a Second Language 24 and 72 (or ESL 4)

Student Learning Objectives:

  1. Evaluate the correlation of structure and function in plants and animals 

Required Texts Available in De Ana Bookstore:

  1. OpenStax Concepts in Biology.  This is a free, online text available to all enrolled students on the course canvas page.
  2. Lab Manual for BIO10  by Judy Cuff-Alvarado.  (available only in De Anza bookstore) If yiou prefer, you may print labs from the course canvas page.

Course Objectives:
Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the scientific method as an indispensible tool of investigation.
  2. Evaluate the characteristics of life.
  3. Analyze the molecular structure and function of the cell, its organelles and the coordination of cellular activities and processes in the organism.
  4. Summarize the processes of cellular and human reproduction
  5. Evaluate the scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution.
  6. Appraise and analyze the components and interrelationships of communities, ecosystems and the biosphere.
  7. Assess the impacts of human activities on the biosphere
  8. Inventory the historical roles and contributions of pioneers of scientific research.

Expanded Description: Content and Form

  1. Analyze the scientific method as an indispensable tool of investigation
    1. Formulate and solve problems utilizing the scientific method, including hypothesis development, prediction, and experimentation.
    2. Evaluate the terms "hypothesis" and "theory" in common and scientific language.
  2. Evaluate the characteristics of life.
    1. Compare and discuss the basic properties shared by all living things: cellular organization, metabolism, homeostasis, growth and reproduction, and heredity.
    2. Examine levels of biological organization and the hierarchy of complexity demonstrated by organisms of the living world.
  3. Analyze the molecular structure and function of the cell, its organelles and the coordination of cellular activities and processes in the organism.
    1. Discriminate between the structure and the evolutionary history of Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic life forms and the kingdoms of life associated with these domains.
    2. Compare and contrast the basic molecules of life: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and Nucleic acids.
    3. Evaluate basic organelles of the cell and describe their role in cell processes such as photosynthesis, cell respiration, cell transport, cell division.
    4. Compare prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and their evolutionary history.
    5. Examine some of the specific human health problems related to abnormalities of cell structure or biochemistry (e.g., sickle cell anemia, Tay Sachs, cystic fibrosis)
  4. Summarize the processes of cellular and human reproduction.
    1. Compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis, the phases and subphases of the cell cycle and the role these processes play in reproduction, growth and cell repair.
    2. Appraise genetics and the transmission of genes from generation to generation, distinguishing different patterns of inheritance and examining molecular genetics.
    3. Examine the consequences of errors that may occur during mitotic or meiotic cell divisions including: silent mutations, Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, and various forms of cancer.
  5. Evaluate the scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution.
    1. Compare and contrast scientific evidence such as the fossil record, the  molecular record, the anatomical record including homologous and  analagous structures.
    2. Analyze natural selection, the process that has led to the diversification of life forms and the development of adaptations of organisms to their environment and their interdependent relationships
    3. Assess evidence that human activities result in selection on other species (e.g., antibiotic resistance in bacteria, pesticide resistance in insects, introduced species, and artificial selection)
  6. Appraise and analyze the components and interrelationships of communities, ecosystems and the biosphere.
    1. Diagram and examine trophic pyramids, energy pyramids, food chains and food webs.
    2. Analyze the flow of energy and cycling of materials in ecosystems
    3. Compare and contrast the earth's terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems including biomes and plant communities such as: the desert, tropical rain forest, foothill woodland, riparian, chaparral, redwood, marsh and estuary.
  7. Assess the impacts of human activities on the biosphere.
    1. Examine and discuss the causes and impacts of global climate change, deforestation, marine fisheries depletion, in historical and current perspective.
    2. Evaluate the evolution of human ecology(from hunter/gatherers, pastoralists, to agriculturalists and to more modern industrialists) and discuss its impact on the earth.
    3. Estimate the environmental consequences of human inaction and propose changes that may reduce the rate of global climate change.
  8. Inventory the historical roles and contributions of pioneers of scientific research.
    1. Assess the work and research results of leading biologists over time, such as Darwin, Gould and Eldredge, McClintock, Watson and Crick, and Franklin
    2. Examine scientific contributions of physicians and scientists in various cultural groups throughout history.

Methods of Evaluating Objectives: 

Students will take 2 unit tests PLUS one final on lecture content. There are 2 Laboratory Exams covering lab content. Additionally, students will do individual presentations in lab on an assigned topic. All students must take the final exam to pass the course.

Test 1: 75 points (Intro, Chemistry Chapter, Cells Chapter, Energy (Photosynthesis and Cell Respiration)

Lab Exam 1: 50 points. (Labs 1, 2, 3, 4)

Test 2: 75 points (Cell Division, Genetics, DNA Synthesis, Protein Synthesis)

Test 3: 75 points (Biotechnology, Evolution, Microbial life)

Lab Exam 2: 50 points (Lab 6, , 8 and ESA Tour)

FINAL EXAM; 100 points (Biotechnology, Evolution, (Plants), Populations, Ecosystems and Climate Change)

Your accumulated total points are compared to the total possible, and your letter grade is determined as follows:

Letter Grade Percentage Points


> 95%

>475 points



455-474.4 points



445-454.4 points



425-444.4 points



410-424.4 points



395-409.5 points



355-394.4 points



325-354.4 points



275-324.4 points


< 55%

< 275 points

40 Extra Credit Points Available: See instructor for details. Extra credit must be turned in by the stated deadlines. Students who exceed 4 absences are not eligible for extra credit.

Missing a test is STRONGLY discouraged. Make ups will only be offered to students who show the instructor a doctors note or an official note from the court.

 Attendance Policy: Attendance and participation in both class and lab is required for students to be successful in this course. If an in-class assignment or quiz is missed, you will receive a zero grade for that quiz.

Attendance will be taken randomly in both lab and lecture.  Students who miss 4 or more absences are NOT eligible to receive any extra credit Students who are absent more than 5 times may be dropped from the course by the instructor. However, once the college deadline for dropping a class has passed, the instructor cannot drop the student.  It is the student's responsibility to drop themselves from the class by going to Admissions & Records and following appropriate procedures there.

Pop quizzes and random homework assignments will be assigned for credit. Students should be mindful of arriving late or leaving class early since there will be no make up for missed surprise quizzes. No homework assignments will be accepted after its’ assigned deadline.  

 Policy on Cheating: In the spirit of community and collegiality, students are encouraged to work together in lab, form study groups and challenge each other. However, all written assessments (quizzes, exams, homework, presentations etc.) are considered to be the individual and independent work of the student alone, 

 In Class Behaviors: Thank you for respecting the rights of each student to learn and work in a respectful, collegial atmosphere.  Cell phones are to be silenced during class/lab.  Students who are disruptive in any way will be required to leave. 

Essential Student Materials: Scantrons, number 2 pencils, email, textbook, lab manual and lecture manual (available in De Anza Bookstore)

Minimum College Facilities: fully equipped biology laboratory, videotapes, specimens and models. Computer Access to instructors webpage and the publisher's website is available on campus at the Science Center & Media Lab.

DROP POLICY:  It is the student's responsibility to formally drop the course with admissions and records by the deadline documented in the schedule of classes (available online at Students who do not drop the course by this deadline and who stop coming to class will get an F in the course.  

Students who are eligible for reasonable accommodations must speak with the instructor as soon as the need for accommodation is known.

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