Course Guidelines for Biology 316 Animal Development, section 1 (3 credits). Offered fall


Instructor: Dr. Christopher Rose


Office hours: TWTh 1-2 pm; if I am not in my office, look for me in my lab; email me for an appointment outside of office hours.


Office: Bioscience 2028A             Lab: Bioscience 2022

Phone: 568-6666 (O)                               email:


Lecture, exam and assignment schedule


Catalogue description: Animal Development (3,0). 3 credits. Offered fall.

This course integrates cell and molecular biology and genetics to understand the processes and mechanisms underlying body plan formation and organ formation in vertebrate animals and insects. The course additionally covers the development of muscle, skeleton and nervous tissues, the postembryonic phenomena of growth, metamorphosis and regeneration, and the developmental basis of evolutionary changes in animal anatomy. Prerequisite: Bio 224.


Goals and Objectives:


1. have students gain a basic understanding of the processes and patterns of embryonic and postembryonic development in vertebrate animals and insects and their underlying cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms.


2. have students gain the foundational knowledge in developmental biology required to pursue higher educational and career goals including taking more courses in evolution, vertebrate biology and developmental biology; teaching courses in general biology, evolution and developmental biology; pursuing veterinary and medical programs; and doing postgraduate research in vertebrate developmental biology and evolution.


3. have students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills by engaging the class in discussion and interactive learning exercises about the following: concepts and models in developmental biology, the use of experimental evidence to support developmental biology models, primary literature articles, designing and interpreting classical and modern experiments, important evolutionary questions and comparing processes across model organisms.


4. have students appreciate developmental biology as a dynamic, topical and integrative science by exposing them to current research by developmental anatomists, developmental geneticists, biomedical professionals, and evolutionary biologists, and having them read and discuss primary research papers on topical issues that demonstrate the impact of developmental biology on science but are outside the scope of the lecture material.


5. have students develop research and communication skills by having them participate in interactive learning exercises; read, summarize and critique primary research papers; and answer exam questions in essay form.


6. have students appreciate the importance of developmental biology to understanding evolution and the necessity of integrating developmental biology into the theory of evolution (what is known as the Modern Synthesis or Neo-Darwinian theory).


Prerequisites: BIO 214 and BIO 224.


Course time and place: Lectures are scheduled on MWF at 11:15-12:05 in Engineering/Geosciences 1204.


Required texts and materials: The recommended (but not required) reference text is "Developmental Biology (10th edition or more recent)" by Scott F. Gilbert,


Adding/dropping class: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Disabilities: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Attendance policy: There is no credit given for attending class and no grade penalty for missing class. To get a good grade in this class, students are strongly recommended to do three things. First, you attend class, pay attention, and be active note takers, which means that you do not limit this task to just copying what is put on the board. Second, after each class, you review your lecture notes and do the assigned readings in the text and/or homework, and if you still don't understand the material, you seek clarification in office hours at that time. Third, you process the material by creating study notes before each lecture exam. Based on my experience, a habit of failing to follow the first and most obvious piece of this advice is a pretty strong sign that a student is not concerned about their grade. Whether this assessment is correct or not, your performance and your grade are your responsibility and I urge you to act in your own best interests.


Grading: Grades will be based on the scores of four exams, three or more reading assignments, three or more homework assignments and participation in interactive learning exercises and class discussions of reading and homework assignments. All exams will cover material from class plus the assigned readings. All reading and homework assignments are due at the beginning of the next class period. The grade breakdown is:



Exam 1

15 %


Exam 2

15 %


Exam 3

15 %


Exam 4 (cumulative)

25 %


Reading assignments

10 %


Homework assignments

10 %


Participation in class, interactive learning exercises and discussion of reading and homework assignments

10 %




If a student does not do as well as hoped or expected on an exam, then the time to address the situation is within 2 days of the exam being handed back, not at the end of term when a passing grade might no longer be attainable. By meeting early with the professor, the student can be advised on how to better match their study techniques and study time to the requirements of the course, and how to seek extra-curricular help at the Learning Strategies Instruction Office (Student Success Center 1202).  


Exams will consist of objective, short answer questions (definitions, identifications, fill-in blanks, etc.) and short essay questions that may require the use of diagrams. Lecture exams might include material from assigned readings. Exam 4 will focus on the final third of the lecture material, but approximately 1/4 of the questions will address concepts/themes covered throughout the course.


Participation in class, interactive learning exercises and discussing reading and homework assignments: During lectures, the professor will introduce interactive learning exercises wherein the class is divided into groups and each group has 5 minutes to formulate a response to different kinds of problems. Examples are to design an experiment to test a particular hypothesis, speculate on the evolutionary significance of a phenomenon, or provide an explanation for an experimental result. At the end of the preparation period, one group will be picked to present its response to the class, and the others will critique the response. Students will also receive three or more reading and homework assignments for which they are required to complete and hand in answers to questions by the beginning of the next class and then participate in a class discussion of those answers.  In addition, the format of some lectures will be modified to accommodate alternative pedagogies. For example, students might be provided with reading materials before the lecture and asked to perform quizzes and/or participate in interactive learning based on the reading during the lecture period. Students are also expected to participate in asking and answering questions during lectures. Students will be graded on their participation in all of these activities.  


Final letter grades will be assigned using the standard numerical scale (e.g., > 90 = A, 80-89 = B, etc.). Grades of WP and WF will not be given out in this class.


Class study notes: Students have the option of making study notes for exams as a class effort. Students who choose to participate will be required to produce a 1-page study note for 1-2 lectures before an exam. These are due one lecture before the exam so the instructor has time to assemble and distribute the study note package. The purpose of making study notes is to process, i.e., summarize, consolidate and synthesize, the important information of each lecture into an accessible bulleted format on one side of paper. To synthesize includes to draw connections between material covered in different lectures and compare similar phenomena in different systems. The more thinking that goes into preparing a study note (as opposed to simply listing details from lectures), the more useful the study note will be in preparing you to answer thought-provoking questions.


Missed classes, exams and deadlines: Students are strongly recommended to come to all classes and to office hours when necessary, and to put in additional study time to make up for missed classes. The only valid excuses for missing exams and assignment deadlines are school-recognized religious observations, official school business with documentation, court appearances, job and graduate school interviews, sickness with a doctorÕs note, and a death or serious illness in family. When a student knows that they will miss an exam or assignment deadline, they are required to contact the professor by email as soon as possible before the date in question and request a make-up exam or assignment extension. It is always at the professorÕs discretion whether a make-up exam or assignment extension is possible or appropriate, and when to use the alternate option of calculating the final grade on the basis of the remaining evaluations. If the student does not have a valid excuse for missing an exam and assignment deadline or fails to contact the professor on a timely basis regarding their excuse, the grade for that exam or assignment will be zero.


Inclement weather policies: Missed classes will be made up at times to be announced at the next class meeting. On days when the start of school is delayed past the start of a class, the professor will announce by email whether the class will still be held.


Religious observation accommodations: Policy and deadlines can be found at


Honor Code: All students are expected to be familiar with and abide by the JMU Honor Code ( Forms of academic dishonesty include cheating on tests or homework, lending your work to another person to submit it as his or her own, reporting false data, selling or uploading unauthorized documents from a class, deliberately creating false information on a works cited or reference page; and plagiarism, presenting another personÕs writing, ideas or results as your own, whether intentional or not. Work submitted for this course must be your own and written for this course. To avoid plagiarism in writing, paraphrased and quoted materials must be properly cited in the text and referenced in the bibliography (see above); unnecessary or excessive use of direct quotations will be penalized.


Additional reference texts and lab manuals (all of which are available for short term loan from me, the lab room or the library):

Gilbert, S.F. and Epel, D. 2009. Ecological Developmental Biology, Integrating Epigenerics, Medicine and Evolution. Sinauer Associates, MA.

Wolpert, L. 2007. Principles of Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press, UK

Slack, J.M.W. 2006. Essential Developmental Biology, Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA

Gilbert, S.F., Tyler, A.L., and Zackin, E.J. 2005. Bioethics and the New Embryology, Sinauer Associates: Sunderland, MA

Wilt, F.H and Hake, S.C. 2004. Principles of Developmental Biology, Norton and Co.: NY, NY

Wilkins, A.S. 2002. The Evolution of Developmental Pathways, Sinauer: Sunderland, MA

Gerhart, J. and Kirschner, M. 1997. Cells, Embryos, and Evolution, Blackwell Science, Malden, MA

Gilbert, S.F. and Raunio, A.M. (eds) 1997. Embryology: Constructing the Organism, Sinauer: Sunderland, MA

Carlson, B.M. 1996. PattenÕs Foundations of Embryology, 6th ed., McGraw-Hill: New York

Kalthaus, K. 1996. Analysis of Biological Development, McGraw-Hill: New York

Raff, R.A. 1996. The Shape of Life: Genes, Development, and the Evolution of Animal Form, University of Chicago Press: Chicago

Hall, B.K. 1992. Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Chapman & Hall: London

Browder, L.W., Erickson, C.A., and Jeffery, W.R. 1991. Developmental Biology, 3rd ed., Saunders College: Philadelphia

Raff, R.A. and Kaufman, T.C. 1983. Embryos, Genes, and Evolution: The Developmental-Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change, Macmillan Publ.: New York

Slack, J.M.W. 1983. From Egg to Embryo, Cambridge, University Press: Cambridge, UK

Balinski, B.I. 1981. An Introduction to Embryology, 5th ed., Saunders College: Philadelphia

Mathews, W.W. and Schoenwolf, G.C. 1998. Atlas of Descriptive Embryology, 5ft ed., Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Johnson, L.G. 1995. Johnson & VolpeÕs Patterns and Experiments in Developmental Biology, 2nd ed., Wm. C. Brown: Dubuque, IA

Schoenwolf, G.C. 1995. Laboratory Studies of Vertebrate and Invertebrate Embryos, Guide and Atlas of Descriptive and Experimental Development, Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ

Tyler, M.S. 1994. Developmental Biology: A Guide for Experimental Study, Sinauer: Sunderland, MA

Cruz, Y.P. 1993. Laboratory Exercises in Developmental Biology, Academic Press: San Diego

Rugh, R. 1962. Experimental Embryology: Techniques and Procedures, Burgess Publ.: Minneapolis

Hamburger, V. 1960. A Manual of Experimental Embryology, revised ed., University of Chicago Press: Chicago


Developmental biology webpages


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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974

FERPA for Parents

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JMU compliance with FERPA


Consult the Student Success Center website for information regarding disability services, student counseling and the writing center.  


Lecture, exam and assignment schedule