Steven Giambrone

Class Format

Face-to-face sections
Both classes I currently teach are transfer courses for majors in biology or allied health fields.  Therefore, the scope and rigor in these courses are designed with this in mind.  I strive to create an informal atmosphere in class that is respectful and welcoming to students, while at the same time asking that students strive to reach their maximum learning potential.  My students often tell me that my passion for science and teaching/learning shows through during my classes.  Yes, I do love my field and I can get carried away sometimes!  Ultimately, I try to make the material in class as interesting and relevant to my students as possible. 

Biology 125 (General Botany):  This class is an integrated lecture/lab class.  Students are expected to have worked outside of class to read the assigned text material to prepare for the work conducted during class time.  Since the laboratory is such an important part of this course, students are required to manage their time to master the material/information in the lab.  In other words, if you simply sit in your seat and wait for the information to come to you, it won’t!  Students must be proactive in their approach to develop mastery of the material.  While this approach often seems strange at first, most students tell me they prefer this method once they adjust to it.

Biology 135 (Principles of Cellular & Molecular Biology):  This is a lecture/lab class.  Lectures usually consist of presentation of unit material that hopefully leads to discussions/questions.  Labs are held in our molecular biology laboratory where we investigate some topic associated with the unit material.  Yes, lab coats are required for lab!  Laboratory time is collaborative, where students work in groups to complete the labs and prepare a written group lab report. 

Resource Use

Textbooks and online resources
The text in both classes is an essential resource for students to succeed.  Unit reading assignments are given and students are expected to have read and understood the material by the time they are tested for that unit.  As you might know, reading a scientific textbook is not like reading a novel.  I usually tell my students that, in order to adequately comprehend the reading material in the text, they should try to read the material at least three different times before the test.  This gives students the time to take what we discuss in class and combine it with what they read in their textbooks.  Of course, this takes time; however, it is almost always time well spent!  Successful students will make notes while reading the text and then try to assimilate what they’ve read with what we discuss in lecture and lab.  I also utilize our Learning Management System (D2L) to post lecture and lab materials and grades.  Finally, I encourage students to purchase and utilize the test book publisher’s website to gain access to online materials that most students tell me are quite helpful.


Biology 125: Students are assessed using various means including unit test (T/F, short answer, diagrams, lists) and also periodic practical exams over laboratory material studied.  Also, students usually complete a project that results in a written paper at the end of the semester.

Biology 135:  Students are assessed in lecture with short papers, quizzes and unit tests.  The unit tests are composed of both objective (T/F and Multiple Choice) questions, and essay questions.  Students are also required to submit group lab reports over the labs completed during the semester.  Finally, students usually work to synthesize a group presentation that is given near the end of the semester. 

Homework Policy

Biology 125:  As previously stated, students are expected to read and study material in the textbook.  However, there is little assigned homework each week in the class.

Biology 135:  In addition to extensive reading of the text, I usually assign quizzes over material in each unit of the course.  Students in this course also are encouraged to purchase access to the publisher’s website MasteringBiology  which has online quiz and study material available.

Attendance Policy

Attendance is taken in both classes using a sign-in sheet that students must sign each class period.  This creates the record of their attendance.  In both classes, I tie attendance to the students’ ability to take make-up tests should they need to be absent during a test for some unforeseen reason.  As long as students have not missed more than 10% of the course, they are eligible to take a make-up test.  This is explained in detail in the syllabus.


I hold five office hours each week when I’m available for students for any reason.  However, I am also frequently available at other times during the week, and by appointment.  It is rare that a student cannot get a time to see me during a given week.  Indeed, I try to make my office a place where students enjoy stopping by to chat.  I usually have coffee/tea, sodas and snacks for students who drop by.  However, please understand that I also have administrative duties during the day.  So, unless you have previously scheduled with me, don’t expect a guaranteed meeting outside of my office hours.  In addition to my office hours, I am also available by email and voicemail.  I can usually reply to emails/voicemails within one business day.