BIO 220 Course Description

Biochemistry (BIO 220) is an intermediate–level course taken by biochemistry, neuroscience, biology and chemistry majors as well as by students preparing for careers in the health professions. Topically, BIO 220 provides students with an opportunity to consider the structure and function of cellular macromolecules, with an emphasis flow of information within cells and on key metabolic pathways.

Students have opportunities to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills and to make connections within the course and to other areas of knowledge. 

The BIO 220 learning goals are for students to be able to:

  1. Correlate chemical structure and biological function of macromolecules and analyze metabolic pathways.
  2. Apply course content along with new information to interpret research and clinical scenarios or predict outcomes in short case studies.
  3. Frame issues at the forefront of biochemistry and related disciplines, making connections to other areas of academic discourse and/or contemporary societal issues.
  4. Conduct experiments using basic biochemical techniques (both wet-lab and in silico), demonstrating the ability to use a protocol, troubleshoot methods, interpret results and document work.
  5. Interact and collaborate by contributing ideas and questions in class discussion and smaller working groups.

Work in BIO 220 should also contribute to Muhlenberg’s Academic Learning Goals (Intellectual Practices; Exploration, Discovery, and Integration; and Engagement and Social Responsibility) as described in the College catalog. 

Amy Hark, one of the Program Co-Directors and an instructor for this course, pursues these goals through a number of pedagogical approaches:

Problem solving is integrated into the interactive lecture environment.  Students work in small groups to apply course material to problems and case studies, with some questions inviting working groups to integrate new concepts with prior knowledge. Problem solving occurs as segments within lecture and lab and as full class periods just before exams to aid in review and application. Students rate problem solving as very effective for their learning on evaluations, underscoring the value of this approach. Dr. Hark supports student collaboration and seeks to create a culture that encourages peer learning. 

Narrated screen captures are created by Dr. Hark and made available via our learning management system for two primary purposes in BIO 220. Some videos provide review of material covered in prerequisite courses or offer an initial exposure to more routine content in advance of class. Use of this approach to provide a first exposure to material permits more active and higher order learning during classes. Lecture excerpts provide a reiteration of topics that typically cause the most difficulty for students – feedback on these has been positive!

In laboratory modules, students are challenged to address why they are carrying out various protocol steps and required to record their process and interpretation. In addition, reviewing and discussing current research helps students build skills in this area and connect to current work in the field.

While the focus of the BIO 220 course is on biochemical content, approaches, and problems, we actively seek to connect study of the molecular life sciences to the broader goals of liberal education. Students discuss and reflect on readings focused on how science is done (and the implications), ethical responsibilities of scientists, and how science intersects with the academy, the clinic, and our communities and society.

Hark notes “Challenging students to make connections between science and other areas of discourse both in academia and in society has created some of the most interesting and fulfilling teaching and learning moments for me and I hope for my students.”