Biology of Behavior
Sample Syllabus

Professor: Dr. Lee Boyd
Office: ST 202-D
Phone: 231-1010, ext. 2081


There is no required textbook for this course, however I have put several books on reserve in Mabee library available for 7 day check out should you wish to read about particular topics:
Dickamer, L.C., S.H. Vessey, and E.M. Jakob. 2002. Animal Behavior. 5th Edition, McGraw Hill, Boston, MA.
Manning, A. and M.S. Dawkins. 1998. An Introduction to Animal Behaviour. 5th Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Ridley, M. 1995. Animal Behavior: an introduction to behavioral mechanisms, development, and ecology. 2nd Edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Cambridge, MA.



This general education course is designed to introduce non-majors to the biological bases of animal behavior. As the course assumes little prior knowledge of biology, it introduces the fundamentals of many basic concepts of biology including the scientific method, genetics, reproductive strategies, evolution, and ecology as needed to understand behavior. Behavioral patterns of animals including humans are presented and explained in the context of these biological principles.

I do not take attendance formally, however you must attend class faithfully to do well in the course. Missed deadlines will lower your grade, and I use my impression of attendance in deciding what final grade to give borderline students.

Students have the right to expect that they will be treated fairly and with respect by their professors. Professors have the right to expect the same from their students. Out of courtesy to me and those around you, please be quiet and make sure all pagers/cell phones are turned off before entering the classroom.


Upon successful completion of this course, a student will:

1. Understand how scientists use the methods of scientific inquiry to understand the natural world, and the advantages for all citizens to adopt some of these methods.

2. Consider the history of various approaches to the studies of both animal and human behavior.

3. Survey some of the major current concepts in behavior.

4. Appreciate the mechanism of heredity in understanding how behavior can be affected by genes.

5. Understand the nervous and hormonal bases of animal and human behavior and consider their similarities and differences.

6. Understand the process of evolution, and how it has affected the development of behavioral strategies in all organisms.

7. Consider biological factors affecting behavior related to gender and reproductive strategies.

8. See why an understanding of the biology of behavior in other animals enables us to better understand human behavior.

9. Develop and appreciate the skills of critical observation and intelligent synthesis of new information.

10. Demonstrate improved skills of intelligent reading of scientific texts, process information both in terms of synthesis and analysis, and solve problems using the methods of analysis considering evidence, relevance and validity. These general education skills must be achieved to do well in this course and will be assessed via classroom discussion, assignments, the zoo research project, and exams.


Students at times experience difficulty with issues such as studying, personal problems, time management, or choice of major, classes, or employment. The Center for Learning and Student Success or CLASS (counseling, testing, learning assistance, career services, academic advising) is available to help students. If you feel you need someone with whom to discuss an issue confidentially and free of charge, contact CLASS in Morgan 122, 231-1010, ext. 1299,,

Students with disabilities may identify themselves voluntarily to the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (SSWDO) to request accommodations. The office is responsible for assisting in arranging accommodations and for identifying resources on campus for persons with disabilities. Qualified students with disabilities must register with the office to be eligible for services. SSWDO MUST have documentation on file in order to provide services. Accommodations may include in-class notetakers, test readers and/or scribes, adaptive computer technology, and brailled materials. New requests for accommodations should be submitted two months or more prior to the date services should begin; however, check with the SSWDO office as soon as a need may arise.
Location: Morgan Hall, Room 150
Phone: (voice calls) 785-231-1010, ext 1629
(TDD) 785-231-1025

Students may also voluntarily identify themselves to the instructor for a referral to SSWDO.


All students are expected to conduct themselves appropriately and ethically in their academic work. Inappropriate and unethical behavior includes (but is not limited to) giving or receiving unauthorized aid on examinations or in the preparation of papers or other assignments, or knowingly misrepresenting the source of academic work.

Washburn University's Academic Impropriety Policy describes academically unethical behavior in greater detail, and explains the actions that may be taken when such behavior occurs. For a complete copy of the Academic Impropriety Policy, contact the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Morgan 270, or go on-line to:


Your Washburn University e-mail address will be the official address used by the University for relaying important messages regarding academic and financial information. It may also be used by your instructors to provide specific course information. E-mail messages sent to your Washburn University e-mail address will be considered your official notification for important information. If you prefer to use an alternate e-mail address at which to receive these official University notices, you can access your MyWashburn e-mail account, choose the "Options" tab, and select "Auto Forward"; to complete the process to forward your mail.

Unfortunately, our campus is not crime-free. Be careful with your valuables and be observant!



1     Course Introduction, History

2     Evolution

3     Nervous System

4     Hormones

       Exam 1

5     Methods

6     Something Tells Me It's All Happening At The Zoo

7     Genetics

8     Development/Learning

9     Migration

        Exam 2

10     Feeding

11     Communication

12     Sexual Behavior

        Exam 3

13     Parental Care

14     Conflict

15     Cooperation

        Final Exam


The 4 exams will be weighted equally. Each exam will consist of computer-scored section of multiple choice and true/false questions along with a hand-graded section of fill-ins, short answer and essays. Exam grades will be recorded in percentages.

Missed exams may not be made up unless the student has an extraordinary excuse for their absence. The decision as to whether the excuse is sufficient or not rests entirely with the professor. Make-up exams will be different from the exam taken by the rest of the class and must be taken within 1 week of the date of the missed exam. They will typically be essay exams.

An additional third of your grade will come from 2 sources:

a) completion of in-class and out-of-class assignments. These are due on the date specified. No late assignments will be accepted. Your lowest assignment score will be dropped.

b) participation in a group research project at the Topeka Zoo. More details will be provided in a separate handout.

Your semester grade will be determined by averaging your 6 scores (4 exams, assignment average after lowest score is dropped, zoo project grade). The grading scale is 90-100% A, 80-89% B, 70-79% C, 60-69% D, below 60% F. Borderline cases will be decided based on attitude, effort, attendance, and improvement.

© 2004 by Lee Boyd