Here is a brief overview of the General Microbiology course. This class has been the central part of my teaching load at Ferris for the past decade. I plan to switch textbooks over the summer of 2018. Therefore, the course will be somewhat different in organization beginning in the Fall 2018 semester.

Catalog Description

Introduction to the microbial world including microbial structure, function, metabolism, classification, genetics, control of microbial growth and immunity. The laboratory provides practical experience with fundamental concepts, techniques and instrumentation.

This course meets General Education requirements: Scientific Understanding, Lab and new Fall 2017 Natural Sciences and Natural Sciences Lab.

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer


CHEM 122 with a C- grade or better.

Required Materials

  • Textbook: Microbiology: An Evolving Science 2nd edition by Slonczewski and Foster. 2011 (ISBN 0-393-93447-0)

  • Lab notebook: We will be using the hardcover Student Laboratory Notebook published by the American Society for Microbiology Press, 2005. (ISBN 1-55581- 358-5)

  • Other materials: We will be using an online clicker system in class this semester (Socrative). You can use any internet capable device to interface. Free apps are available for iOS, Google, and Android. A cloth lab coat, a Sharpie™ and access to a digital camera (e.g. iPhone, android phone will be required for lab. Other optional materials include a scientific calculator, a USB flash drive, and a wax pencil for the laboratory.

General Education Learning Outcomes

This course may be used to help fulfill the General Education requirement for Natural Sciences with a laboratory. A successful student in this course should be able to do the following:

  • SCI1: Utilize concepts – Students correctly apply, analyze, or evaluate information using discipline-specific facts and concepts.

  • SCI2: Design experiments – Given a problem, students formulate a potential solution or hypothesis and design a valid experiment to test it.

  • SCI3: Analyze issues – Students use scientific concepts and principles to critically analyze historical or contemporary issues or policies.

  • SCI4: Communicate data – Students clearly communicate scientific findings using a variety of formats (words, graphs, tables, statistical inferences, formulae, etc.) as appropriate.

Course-Specific Learning Outcomes

In addition, there are several course-specific outcomes for students in this class. Some of these will be addressed in lecture, others in laboratory, and yet others in both. By the conclusion of this course, successful students should be able to:

  1. Microbial Diversity - Give examples of and compare and contrast different types of microbial cells (including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa). Identify cell structures and define their functions.
    Assessed via laboratory and online quizzes or reports, questions from lecture exams 1, 2 and 3, the laboratory practical, and the comprehensive final exam.

  2. Microbial Metabolism - Explain the various metabolic strategies employed by microbes. Provide specific examples of how metabolism is linked to environmental cycling of elements and pathogenesis.
    Assessed via laboratory and online quizzes or reports, questions from lecture exams 2, and 3, the laboratory practical, and the comprehensive final exam.

  3. Microbial Genetics - Describe basic concepts involving how genetic information flows in microbial cells. Detail the importance of mutation, recombination, and lateral genetic exchange in virulence.
    Assessed laboratory and online quizzes or reports, questions from lecture exam 3, the laboratory practical, and the comprehensive final exam.

  4. Host-Microbe Interactions - Differentiate between the innate, humoral, and cellular defenses and identify points of interaction. Explain how inappropriate immune responses can result in host damage. Compare the different interactions possible between host and microbial cells. Describe several different molecular strategies employed by microbial pathogens and give several specific examples of each.
    Assessed via laboratory and online quizzes or reports, the laboratory practical, and the comprehensive final exam.

  5. Laboratory Techniques - Correctly perform proper laboratory skills and display a habit of good laboratory practices that extend to your everyday life. Perform simple and differential stains on isolates and properly use compound light microscopes to visualize and describe microbial cell morphologies.
    Assessed via laboratory quizzes and notebook entries, and the laboratory practical.

  6. Critical Thinking - Accurately follow instructions and collect data based upon observations from laboratory exercises or clinical case studies. Plot data when appropriate and interpret any trends. Make inferences and predictions based upon the interpretations.
    Assessed via laboratory and online quizzes, laboratory notebook entries, and the laboratory practical.

  7. Communication - Demonstrate an ability to work in group settings and exchange ideas concerning course-related topics. Read, write, and speak about Microbiology with classmates and members of the community.
    Assessed via short microbiology papers.

  8. Metacognition - Articulate preferences and dislikes (strengths and weaknesses) for learning new and complex information. Adopt new learning strategies to improve retention of information and comprehension of the course materials.
    Assessed via post-exam bonus assignments, feedback during office hours, and occasional class surveys.

Sample Syllabus

A copy of a recent syllabus for this course (which outlines the class policies and describes all graded materials) can be accessed as a PDF file. You may use this document to gauge how I approach the course topics and assess student learning. Nota bene: future syllabi (or those from other instructors of this course) may differ substantially.

On-line Course Materials

This class is taught as a web-enhanced course using our course management system, Blackboard. A variety of resources that are required to complete many of the assignments that are due this semester are only available on-line. My couse site contains many different resources to aid in your efforts to learn about microbiology. These include:

  • A PDF copy of the current course syllabus.

  • A posting of all course announcements

  • Additional course materials for lecture and lab. This section includes PDF copies of the lecture slides for your note-taking convenience, HTML lecture study guides, sentence outlines, interactive copies of the slides, puzzles for studying, and links to additional information on the internet.

  • A calendar of all course assignments and deadlines.

  • Detailed assignment descriptions with scoring rubrics and due dates.

  • Quizzes for class credit and also for practice.

  • On-line access to your course grades.

  • E-mail and chat interfaces to contact me about the class.

  • A bulletin board for on-line class discussions. We will use this for the Microbes in the News and research poster assignments as well for answering any questions or comments that you might post.

  • An extensive glossary of terms used during the semester. These will be linked to other pages with in the site.

  • A search tool to allow you to find material in the site.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this course. Thanks!

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