This Course at MIT

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Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 7.013 Introduction to Biology as it was taught by Professor Hazel Sive, Professor Tyler Jacks, and Dr. Diviya Sinha in Spring 2013.

At MIT, all undergraduate students are required to take introductory biology. 7.013 is one of the five versions of introductory biology that satisfy this requirement. All five versions cover a common core of material (biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, and recombinant DNA technology). Each class has a particular focus; 7.013's special focus topics are genomic approaches to human disorders, neuroscience, development, and repair.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • To be curious about biology and understand that biology is fascinating
  • To understand that the life sciences are huge and interface with almost every other discipline
  • To understand that life sciences and biology are studied in a rigorous way
  • To understand that biology is all about problem solving and applying information, not just learning information
  • To be able to make hypotheses and solve problems in biology

Possibilities for Further Study and Future Careers

Students from this course go into many different majors, but it is estimated that at least half of them end up majoring in an area with a life sciences focus and/or conducting undergraduate research in a life sciences based lab. There are 13 majors based in the life sciences at MIT, and almost half of on-campus research is life sciences based.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

None

Requirements Satisfied

Offered

Every spring semester

The Classroom

  • Classroom photo.

    Lectures

    Lectures took place in one of MIT's largest lecture halls, which seats about 550.

  • Classroom photo.

    Recitations

    Students were each assigned to a recitation group of 20-25 students. Recitations met twice a week in smaller classrooms like this one.

 

Student Information

On average, about 400 students take this course each year.

Enrollment

Typically around 300-400 students per year; roughly one third of MIT undergraduate students take 7.013 before they graduate.

Breakdown by Year

Primarily freshman; some sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

Breakdown by Major

All majors, since all MIT undergraduates are required to take one of the five introductory biology courses. The only alternative to taking introductory biology is passing the biology Advanced Standing Exam, which is typically passed by less than 5 percent of each year's incoming class. The Advanced Placement® biology exam is not accepted for this requirement.

Typical Student Background

Student background spans an enormous range. Some students have substantial biology background, having taken AP® biology or even having conducted biology research as high school students. Others, especially international students, might not have taken biology since elementary or middle school.

 
 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Lecture

3 hours per week
  • Three lectures per week, each lasting 50 minutes
  • Attended by all students
  • Lectures given by Prof. Hazel Sive or Prof. Tyler Jacks
  • Covered all required content for the course
  • Included use of chalkboard, slides, handouts, demonstrations, and mini quizzes
 

Recitation

2 hours per week
  • Two recitations per week, each lasting 50 minutes
  • 20-25 students per recitation
  • Taught by teaching assistants (graduate students or advanced undergraduate students)
  • Included review of lecture material and work on recitation problems
 

Out of Class

7 hours per week
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour.
2 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
3 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
4 Exam. No class session scheduled. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour.
5 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour.
6 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
7 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Exam. No class session scheduled. Lecture: 1 hour.
10 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour.
11 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
12 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
13 Exam. No class session scheduled. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour.
14 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. Problem set due.
15 Lecture: 1 hour. Recitation: 1 hour. Lecture: 1 hour. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT; exam held. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held. Exam
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitation sessions are held. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when assignments are due. Problem set due
 

Instructor Insights

Biology is a rigorous problem solving discipline; in fact, biology is all about using information to solve problems. ... It's very challenging for the students.

—Prof. Sive

Below, Professor Hazel Sive, one of the two professors for 7.013 Introductory Biology, describes various aspects of how she teaches the course.

Below, Dr. Diviya Sinha, course instructor for 7.013 Introductory Biology, describes various aspects of how she prepares materials for and coordinates the course.

 

Course Team Roles

7.013 has a large course staff to meet the needs of its ~400 students. The roles of the course staff are briefly outlined below.

Professors (Prof. Hazel Sive and Prof. Tyler Jacks)

  • Design and structure the course; define and organize the course syllabus
  • Prepare and deliver lectures, with roughly half of the lectures given by each professor
  • Interact with individual students via e-mail and substantial office hours
  • Work with the course instructor to create problem sets, exams, and other course materials

Course Instructor (Dr. Diviya Sinha)

  • Selects, trains, organizes, and oversees teaching assistants (TAs), tutors, and graders; treads the gaps between different aspects of the course and facilitates contact among TAs, tutors, graders, professors, and students as necessary
  • Creates problem sets, exams, recitation materials, and other course materials in consultation with the course professors
  • Organizes recitation sections, grading, and exam sessions
  • Teaches two recitation sections
  • Interacts with individual students via e-mail, weekly office hours and tutoring sessions, recitations, and the course's online forum

Teaching Assistants (8-12 graduate students or advanced undergraduate students)

  • Teach one or two recitation sections with 20-25 students; each recitation section meets twice a week
  • Assist in preparing for recitations and revising problem sets and solution keys
  • Grade problem sets and exams
  • Refer students for tutoring
  • Hold weekly office hours

Tutors (about 25 undergraduate students)

  • Provide free, one-on-one tutoring service for any interested student; funded by the department