Mini Syllabus

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Course ID: BIO145
Modality: Internet
Credit Hours: 4.00

Course Section Information

Institution: Rio Salado College

Section: 14435

Term: Fall 2014

Start Date: 8/25/2014

Weeks: 16

Last date to withdraw: None

Instructor: Alyssa MacDonald

Course Materials

Be sure that you have all the necessary materials prior to the start date of your course.

Required Software:

A PC (this course is not MAC compatible), Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader and Flash Player are required for this course. Please refer to your MySite page and click on the Software Purchase link for information on purchasing Word.

Other Materials Required for Course:

BIO145 Lab Kit

Required Textbook:

Title: Marine Biology 9th Edition
Author: Castro & Huber
Publisher: McGraw Hill
ISBN: bundled set 9781259384462 Bundled w/Digital Zoology CD 2.0 and wrkbk 

Your course materials are available through the Rio Salado College Bookstore.  All materials should be verified by ISBN before purchasing at the Rio Salado Bookstore or from another seller.

The labs completed in this course require you to use various chemicals. You must be aware of the safety precautions associated with each of these chemicals. Read the **MSDS** sheets prior to beginning any experiment.

Course Description and Competencies

Official Course Description
A survey of marine environments and their biotic communities with emphasis on the natural history of marine organisms. 
Official Course Prerequisites
Official Course Competencies
  1. Describe how scientists study the oceans.
  2. Compare and contrast the geological, physical, and chemical aspects of the ocean environment.
  3. Distinguish between types of geological features in the ocean environment.
  4. Relate the mode of action of tides, waves, and currents to the effects they have on topographical features.
  5. List the properties of seawater and explain how seawater is a complex solution.
  6. Describe the relationships between the biotic and abiotic portions of selected marine environments.
  7. Distinguish between conformers, regulators, and selectors by their means of surviving environmental extremes.
  8. Describe what happens to marine organisms when abiotic factors in their environment fluctuate.
  9. Relate the distribution of a marine species to its range of toleration and the presence of abiotic gradients in the world's oceans.
  10. Compare and contrast the various methods used by marine organisms to acquire food.
  11. Identify the ways in which a particular marine organism defends itself against predators.
  12. Explain the fundamental differences between asexual and sexual reproduction and how each is suited to particular environment conditions.
  13. Describe examples of competition and coexistence in the ocean.
  14. Compare and contrast the three types of symbiotic relationships.
  15. Distinguish between colonies and individuals and describe the advantages of each of these modes of life.
  16. Apply unifying theories of biology to classify organisms.
  17. Produce phylogenic trees and taxonomic keys for groups of selected marine organisms.
  18. Identify the general types of microscopic marine organisms.
  19. Categorize the major groups of marine plants using biochemical, structural, and ecological criteria.
  20. Distinguish between examples of the major invertebrate groups.
  21. Relate the structure of marine fish to their ability to live in their environment.
  22. Describe the life cycle of the sea turtle.
  23. Compare and contrast the ways of life of major types of marine birds.
  24. Explain how marine mammals are readapted to life in the ocean.
  25. Contrast the adaptations of toothed and balleen whales.
  26. Describe how organisms interact with their environments as individuals, populations, and species.
  27. Identify adaptations of marine organisms and describe how they promote the success of the organisms.
  28. Analyze the structure of a marine community utilizing data collected by modern methods.
  29. Draw a food web diagram for marine community.
  30. Predict the outcome of ecological succession in a marine community.
  31. Identify the processes which occur in successful ecological systems.
  32. Compare and contrast pelagic and benthic environments.
  33. Identify the special problems met by marine organisms in a variety of marine ecosystems.
  34. Describe the biotic and abiotic portions of several important marine ecosystems.
  35. Explain how humans are having an effect upon marine environments.
  36. Describe how humans presently utilize the oceans and their plans for future use.
  37. Explain how new international agreements are regulating the use of the ocean in ways that are beneficial to all.

Course Requirements

  1. Examinations: There are two examinations (a midterm and a final). You must take both of them online.

  2. Note: Combined scores on the Midterm and Final exams must have an average of 60% or better in order to receive a passing grade for the course. For example, if you received a 50% on the midterm exam and a 66% on the final exam, your average on those two exams would be a 58% and you would receive a failing grade for the course-even if your class grade, including your other assignments is passing.

  3. This is a four credit-hour class. As such, you will need to dedicate significant time to this course. Plan to devote a minimum of 12-15 hours per week on your course and lab work. Be prepared to double your weekly class and study time if you choose an accelerated calendar.

Note: A passing average (60% or higher) must be earned in the laboratory portion of the course in order to receive a passing grade for the course. If a student does not earn an average of 60% or better on the laboratory portion of the class, the student will receive a failing grade for the class, even if the class grade, including all other assignments, is passing.

Grading Procedure and Scale

Grading Procedure

There are 3650 possible points for this course.

Lesson Quizzes = 1750 Points
Labs = 720 Points
Lab Practicals = 180 Points
Midterm and Final Exam = 1000 Points
Total Points Possible = 3650 Points

Grading Scale

Letter grades for assignments, examinations, and the course will be determined by the following scale:

3285 - 3650 points = A (90% - 100%)
2920 - 3284 points = B (80% - 89%)
2555 - 2919 points = C (70% - 79%)
2190 - 2554 points = D (60% - 69%)
0 - 2189 points = F (0% - 59%)

Note: The grading procedure for this course is based on the total number of possible points.

The grading scale is administered equally to all students in the course. Do not expect to receive a grade that is higher than what you earned by your total points. There will be no point adjustments made for such things as class participation or other subjective factors.

There is no extra credit available for this course.

Final Grade Options

  • Letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) - awarded if the student completes all work, including the final exams.
  • Extension (in lieu of Incomplete grade) - Students may request an extension because of illness or other extenuating circumstances, if they have been doing acceptable work. The instructor will define the requirements and timelines to complete the course. Please Note: Instructors are not obligated to give extensions.
  • Withdrawal - Students may submit a withdrawal request on or prior to the “Last Date to Withdraw” indicated in their RioLearn Gradebook.

    Students should not contact their instructor to request a withdrawal. A student wishing to withdraw from a class within the stated timeline must do so by visiting In extreme circumstances, students do have the option of requesting a complete withdrawal from the college by providing Student Enrollment Services with appropriate documentation.

Copyright Acknowledgements

Some images used in courses are licensed as follows: Accunet/AP Multimedia Archive,, Thinkstock, EBSCO Image Collection.

Submitting Assignments

All assignments are listed under the "Readings, Resources, and Assignments" box and in the "Assessing Your Learning" sections of the online lessons. The lessons can be accessed from the "Open My Lesson" links on your lesson preview pages.

Note to students: Keep a copy of everything that you submit.

Students found posting to or downloading assignments, such as: essays, quizzes, projects, exams or laboratory assignments from free or paid homework, study, or sharing websites will receive a failing grade and be removed from the class.

Posting assessments on an unauthorized web site, soliciting assessment answers and the acquisition of assessments, assessment answers, or other academic material is cheating.

Cheating and/or plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course.

Syllabus Acknowledgement

Special Note: The online syllabus acknowledgement found under Lesson 1 will need to be completed prior to accessing any assignments for the class. If the online syllabus acknowledgement is not completed, students will not be able to open or submit any of the assignments for class. Additionally, if a student is purged from class and has been provided permission by the department to be reinstated, the syllabus acknowledgement must be completed upon reinstatement into the class; even if it had been previously completed.

Late or Missing Assignments

Assignments that have due dates are due on time according to the due dates in your online schedule posted by your instructor.

Late points may be applied at the instructor's discretion.

Course Completion Policy

A student who registers for a Distance Learning course is assigned a "start date" and an "end date." It is the student's responsibility to note due dates for assignments and to keep up with the course work.

Pursuant to the Attendance policy (AR2.3.2) found in the college catalog, students must remain active participants in this online class. When a student fails to participate for more than 7 days in an 8 week class, or for more than 14 days in a 16 week class, they will not be allowed to continue to participate in the class.

Library Services

The Rio Salado Library is committed to student success and provides a variety of materials and services to enhance student learning.  Utilizing Rio’s online library for your research is the best way to ensure that your sources are validated, authoritative, and appropriate for college-level coursework. Librarians are available to help you at all times via our Ask a Librarian live chat service. Also, the How Do I..? Streaming Video Series provides instruction on how to use the online library to find books, articles, ebooks, streaming films, and more.

Please note that when library materials (e.g., articles, ebooks, and streaming media) are integrated into your lesson content, you will see the notation “…provided to you through the Rio Salado Library.

Academic Misconduct

Academic Misconduct includes cheating, conspiring to cheat, soliciting to cheat, attempting to cheat, plagiarism, fabrication on an assignment, or other forms of dishonest presentation.

Posting assessments on an unauthorized web site, soliciting assessment answers and the unauthorized acquisition of assessments, assessment answers, or other academic material is cheating.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, the use of paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment.  It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling or sharing of term papers or other academic materials.  Information gathered from the Internet and not properly identified is also considered plagiarism.

We expect every student to produce his/her original, independent work. Any student whose work indicates a violation of the MCCCD Academic Misconduct Policy (including cheating and plagiarism) can expect sanctions as specified in the college catalog.

Rio Salado College uses software that uncovers plagiarism from student to student and other data sources on the Internet. If a student is found to have plagiarized content, grade consequences will be applied in accordance with departmental policies.

Civility Policy

The faculty of Rio Salado place a high value on the importance of general ethical standards of academic behavior and expect that communication between students and instructors or among students shall maintain the level of formality and mutual respect appropriate to any college teaching/learning situation.

Language or behavior that is rude, abusive, profane, disruptive, or threatening will not be tolerated. Activity of this type is Academic Misconduct as defined in MCCCD Policy AR 2.3.11. Students engaging in such behavior will be removed from the course with a failing grade. Additional sanctions may be applied pursuant to AR 2.3.11.

Requirement for Active Class Participation

Please note that students may be withdrawn from class for non-participation.

If you receive financial aid of any kind, it is your responsibility to protect your eligibility to receive financial aid by meeting the active participation requirements of this class.

Honors Program

If you are taking this course for Honors credit, you must complete all assessments, including the Honors Project(s). The Honors Project(s) are listed in one or more lessons of the course and are designated for “Honors Students.” Failure to complete the Honors Project(s) will result in a failing grade in the course and a loss of Honors credit.

Change of Address

Please notify Course Support at (480) 517-8243 or 1-800-729-1197 or by email at Please include your name, student number, phone number, and new address including city, state, and zip code.

Academic Adjustment Needs & Disability Resources and Services

In accordance with Rio Salado College and Maricopa Community College District policies, all students should have equal access to course materials and technology. Please contact the Disability Resources and Services Office prior to the start date of your course at 480-517-8562 if you have any of the following needs:

  • you are a student requiring an academic adjustment due to a documented disability (as protected by The Americans with Disability Act Amendment Act)

  • you are experiencing difficulty accessing course materials because of a disability

  • you are pregnant or parenting and would like to discuss possible academic adjustments (as protected under Title IX)


1 Maricopa Community College District Administrative Regulation 2.8.1:

2 Rio Salado College Disability Resources and Services website:


Course content may vary from this outline to meet the needs of this particular group.

Student Solution Center

Rio Salado College is dedicated to a quality learning experience and has provided the Student Solution Center webpage as a resource for students to raise issues to our attention. We look forward to the opportunity to provide an equitable solution for all involved parties. For grading or instructional issues, students should first contact their faculty member(s) in accordance with the Instructional Grievance Process. For non-instructional complaints, students may contact the Judicial Affairs team by telephone at 480-517-8749 or 480-517-8152, or email at Students may also contact their state regulatory agency; the Arizona SARA Council; and/or the Higher Learning Commission to escalate their concerns.

Rio Salado College Copyright

Course Content © Copyright 2016 Rio Salado College. All Rights Reserved.

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