Debra Finch

The following information comes from the named instructor and should describe characteristics general to courses as taught by this instructor. Individual sections of specific courses will deviate from this description in some respects.

Class Format

Face-to-face sections I teach face-to-face sections of Biology 121 and Biology 125.

Biology 121 (Intro Bio for Non-Majors) – Lecture part of this class is, well, lecture. Students are encouraged to ask questions and interact with other students in the class during group questions. The lab portion of this class involves performing 12 labs that help students with some of the concepts presented in lecture. Lab tables accommodate four students, so students work in groups of four to complete labs.

Biology 125 (General Botany) – This class has a lecture and a lab portion during each class meeting. The lecture introduces the material from 15 units that are covered during the semester. The lab goes hand-in-hand with the lecture material, but allows students to explore the concepts of each unit on their own and with their table group. Although lecture and lab are held in the same classroom and students are in the same seats for both, the difference between the two formats facilitates access to the material and breaks up the monotony of one long class where the same activity goes on. 

Resource Use

Biology 121 – The textbook is used to support the material presented in lecture. I pull a good many visuals from the textbook and put them in my PP slides and in my exams. On-line homework will be up on D2L during the semester to help prepare students for labs. The lab manual is used for all labs throughout the semester.

Biology 125 – The textbook is relied on heavily to supply basic information about plant anatomy and physiology. I cover many aspects of plants in my lectures prior to the labs, but reading the textbook is crucial to understanding the concepts in each unit and completing the labs. Lab reports are posted on D2L prior to each unit; students complete lab reports and turn them in at the end of each unit.


Biology 121 – Discover Biology, 6th edition, Singh-Cundy and Shin; Introductory Biology for Non-Majors Laboratory Manual, 3rd edition.

Biology 125 – Biology of Plants, 8th edition, Raven; not required but highly recommended – A Photographic Atlas for the Botany Laboratory, 7th edition, Rushforth, Robbins, et al.


Biology 121 – Students earn their grade through three methods of evaluation: lecture exams (4 or 5 unit exams and a final) comprise approximately 50% of their overall grade; lab practicals (3) about 12%; and clickers and assignments (in-class clickers, homework, group questions) 38%.

Biology 125 – Students earn their grade by taking weekly tests (15, one after each unit) which comprises 50% of their overall grade, through lab practicals (5) for 33%, and by turning in lab reports (15, one for each unit) for 17%. 

Homework Policy

Biology 121 – Homework is due on the day of labs so that the student can be adequately prepared for labs. Late homework is accepted only if the student has a valid excuse for missing the day the homework was due; late homework is subject to a 10% deduction.

Biology 125 – Lab reports are due after the last lab over the unit is completed. Late lab reports are accepted only if the student has a valid excuse for missing the lab; late lab reports are subject to a 10% deduction.

Attendance Policy

Biology 121 and Biology 125 – To do well in any science course, it is essential that students make an effort to attend every class and be prepared. If extenuating circumstances arise where a student must be absent, the student will be held responsible for the material covered in class on the day they were absent.


I am on campus Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for some, but not all, of the day as I also teach at KU. However, I am always receptive to meeting with students at a scheduled time in my office (CLB 337). Students are encouraged to email me with requests for a meeting to discuss any issues that may arise during the semester.