Concepts of Biology
Multiple Authors, OpenStax
Pub Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-9381681-1-6
Conditions of Use
The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately. The text is written in a manner that is easy for nonmajors to understand. The texts read more
The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately. The text is written in a manner that is easy for nonmajors to understand. The texts provide a detailed table of contents with Appendix A, B, and C. However, the text is lacking a glossary which would provide easy access to the definition of terms without forcing the student to guess which chapter they would find a said term in. In Chapter 1, the author should consider including information on the evolution/progression of science, a brief history of science. The author should consider adding information on the states of matter and phase changes. This would help connect the topic of science even more closely to the student's everyday life. Chapters 9.5 and all of chapter 10 is too detailed for this level of learning.
Content contains some minor errors which can easily be fixed by an unbiased editor.
The content is relevant as the majority of it is covered in nonmajor biology courses. However, the text is missing the take-home examples which is very necessary for this level of learning. Students need examples of the concepts which can be related to their everyday life. The text is also missing information on human evolution, a big topic in biology. Also, one of the current hot topics in genetics is the crispr cas9 technology, this book does not introduce or address this technology, other books which includes this and other topics could make this text obsolete.
The text is written in a manner which makes it a very fluid, straightforward read. The authors could, however, try harder to further simplify the text by adding more examples. The lack of intimidating jargon, without the loss of content makes the text appropriately (but not perfectly) geared towards its intended nonmajor audience.
In terms of content difficulty, the authors are relatively consistent. However, some chapters are more detailed than others, some chapters have more or no examples. This adds an unnecessary level of confusion to the text as well as confusion to the teaching style of the text. More consistency should be added to the number and difficulty? level of the review questions found at the end of each section.
The text is readily divisible into smaller reading sections, however, some sections are much larger than others and therefore? sometimes read as their own chapters.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical fashion which mimics the organization of any biology course for majors and nonmajors alike.
The interface needs some editing. Page breaks are not appropriately applied. For instance, on pdf page 11, the "About Our Team" section flows into pdf page 12, two authors name dangle randomly on the top section of this page which then randomly begins the "Learning Resources" section. A page break should have been used after the authors' name. Image quality is lacking. For example, Figure 1.7 which depicts a DNA molecule could be sharper/higher resolution.
The text does not contain many/any distracting grammatical errors.
The text should reference an equal amount of minority scientists/and portraits of people as it does Caucasians. Along the same lines, the authors should reference an equal amount of female scientists/and portraits of people as it does males. Luckily, the text mostly references non-human organisms, therefore decreasing the chances of it being insensitive or offensive to any particular group. But the disproportionate examples of one group versus the other can still be readily seen.
The authors have created the beginnings of a very strong text for nonmajors. However, the authors should continue editing this text as it can be more enlightening and connected to the real world experience of its intended readers.
The text follows the standard general biology topic areas in the typical order. There is a table of contents but no comprehensive glossary at the read more
The text follows the standard general biology topic areas in the typical order. There is a table of contents but no comprehensive glossary at the end. Definitions for terms are presented at the end of each chapter. In terms of the comprehensiveness of the text itself, some areas are too detailed while others are lacking. For instance, there is a bunch of information on gene regulation that isn’t usually covered at the introductory, non-majors level but then there is a very small bit about climate change and acid rain and chemical pollution/toxicity are completely omitted. Likewise, I was confused why the text spends a page addressing food chains when it then states that food chains are too simplistic and in reality food webs are more accurate. I’m sure this extensive devotion to food chains would be equally confusing and misleading to my students.
The majority of the content is accurate but there are some significant points in which I found errors. Starting in the first chapter, the text separates regulation and homeostatis as two separate characteristics of life. In truth, these are the same. Then, the fact that life is cellular is omitted. In the same chapter, the example of a control is inaccurate. The example focuses on a freshwater pond to grow algae. The text states that adding salt is a control but adding any compound is still adding a variable. Later, in the Mendelian inheritance section, there is no mention that human traits do not strictly follow Mendelian patterns. There is a picture of albinism but no text to explain that many human conditions/traits largely follow Mendelian patterns so we use this type of inheritance to predict but that they are actually polygenic.
The text is a reference text with mostly content provided. Considering the lack of application and examples, the text will have extended relevance. My concern is the lack of interest in the text. These non-major introductory classes are taught with application and real-world events as the focus. The text completely omits these attention grabbing examples. Many of these situations such as global climate change, genetic conditions, cancer, etc. are relevant but not highlighted in the text.
Overall, the text is concise and straightforward. Revision is warranted in some places. For instance, the way the sentence is written on page 60, it sounds like only bacteria have a cell wall when the authors meant that only bacteria have a cell wall made of peptidoglycan which differs from the composition of plant cells. While the voice of the text is clear and concise, I don’t think it is friendly or inviting to the targeted audience. The prose is written as a reference with content strictly presented. I believe my non-major introductory students would have a hard time staying interested in the text.
The different topics felt like they were written by different authors and then the chapters assembled. For instance, some chapters started with an interesting, real world example as an introduction while other chapters just started with material. The same tone throughout would be beneficial.
The section titles and headings are appropriate modules. But the sections are large. Some of the major headings should be their own sections.
The order of topic presentation is typical of introductory biology textbooks. However, it makes more sense to present DNA replication before mitosis and meiosis since DNA replication occurs before these division processes. Also, when you read the text itself, the organization is confusing. The cell chapter was particularly troublesome. There is a section titled eurkaryotes and the plasma membrane, cytoplasm and ribosomes are presented here. None of these are organelles and all of these are structures found in prokaryotic cells too. Also, this text presents the nucleus in the endomembrane system which is inaccurate.
Many of the figures have poor quality. It appears that they were copied at low resolution and the text in the figure is blurry. Many pages are large sections of empty space because of the placement of figures. The art connections are the only useful figures. The other figures are just placeholders that could be overlooked. Students prefer to scan the figure and figure legends for content. But there are none in this text. All of the information has to come from the text itself.
There are no distracting grammatical errors.
The text is generic and thus is relevant to all. In fact, there are very few pictures or references to humans and instead, other organisms are the focus.
This book is written as a reference textbook with the concepts themselves covered but not in any context to relevant, real world examples. The lack of attention-grabbing figures with detailed descriptions and the generic prose would easily loose the attention of my students. Again, this would be a useful reference book but not a good source for non-major, introductory students to read and understand on their own.
The main concepts in an all-encompassing Biology Non-Majors course are present. However, many concepts are only present as 1 or 2 paragraphs at most, read more
The main concepts in an all-encompassing Biology Non-Majors course are present. However, many concepts are only present as 1 or 2 paragraphs at most, and not every concept has figures associated with it.
I did not find any inaccuracies within the text.
Within the Biotechnology section, they should include Crispr - which has already been added to most major Biology texts. As far as longevity, Biology books themselves change frequently, and the text will need to be updated as such.
The book is so concise, clarity is hardly an issue. Everything is straightforward and written simply. If anything, I would prefer more information and examples on the topics presented.
The text is extremely consistent.
Everything is where it should be. It would be very easy to move from section to section as needed, omitting certain modules for time constraints or when altering the course towards certain subjects.
I am used to animal structure and function (systems biology) following at the end of a non-majors book, rather than having it before the ecology section. It is nice to introduce the students to all of the life on the planet, and then follow it with how they interact. After that is when systems biology can be discussed.
It was very easy to use online. I like that there are end of chapter questions, and with a click of the button you can see the correct answer. However, the answer should not only show the multiple choice letter, but also a brief description of why the answer is correct. I think this would be helpful.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
Within the human population chapter, I did not find anything offensive. It almost appeared that the authors avoided discussing any policies of human populations that were intended to curb exponential growth (China's one child policy, India's educational stances). Anyhow, the chapters were written well and shouldn't cause offense to anyone.
Overall, I think the book is sufficient in teaching a non-majors Biology course. However, each topic is written so concisely, that I feel students may be inclined to feel as if they are reading a dictionary or encyclopedia. I would need to use outside material for the course to engage the students in order to motivate them to learn the course material. There are rarely any stories or attention grabbing anecdotes to stimulate student's interests. Similarly, the questions at the end of each section are knowledge-based low-level Bloom's which can be answered with a quick scroll up, as each section is given on one single page.
I compared it to my current text and it does cover the requisite areas that should be found in a non-majors biology text. At times the material is read more
I compared it to my current text and it does cover the requisite areas that should be found in a non-majors biology text. At times the material is glossed over however. For instance in the Glycolysis section there is are three short paragraphs describing this metabolic pathway and the corresponding figure mis-represents what actually happens. I agree that most non-majors don't need to understand the intricacies of this pathway but I think it unwise to represent it as a simple two-step process. There is beauty in complexity.
It seems that way. The non-majors course I teach is Genetics, Ecology and Evolution. For each of the sections in the Openstax book there is a general covering of the most of the material and the material covered is accurate. However, there is a general paucity in detail for much of it and in some cases information that I feel is relevant is missing. For instance in the non-Mendelian genetics section there is no mention of pleiotropy nor environmental effects. There are other examples where relevant material, in my opinion, was left out.
It appears to be up-to-date. However I saw no reference to Prion diseases and it's not referenced in the index. Unfortunately, the section on viruses in included within the chapter on The Immune System and Disease rather than being a stand-alone chapter. In the evolution section there was nothing in regards to human evolution. There was one picture comparing a human and ape skull indicating their relatedness but it's in the chapter on Diversity of Life. I think it's a mistake to leave that out.
I found it easy to read; however, I found that in many areas there was too brief a description, which I believe would make the material difficult for the student to completely understand. That also applies to many of the figures which I didn't think were adequately explained by the caption.
The text and jargon seems consistent throughout.
The sections are relatively short with adequate subheadings. The font could be a little larger.
The topics flow in an appropriate sequence
All images were clear and I had no navigation problems.
I didn't observe any grammar issues.
I did not observe any problems in this area.
Because it's a free downloadable book for students I was excited to review it for possible use in my non-majors course. I was less excited after the review. Many sections seem to lack overall detail and there was relevant information excluded. And I didn't find the illustrations overall engaging. In some cases additional figures / illustrations should have been added for clarity, e.g. the discussion on transformation, transduction and conjugation by bacteria. However, having said that, the missing information can be provided by the instructor in the classroom as well as a more comprehensive explanation if needed. I personally wouldn't adopt this if this was an option as a hard-copy text book. but as a freebee for students I might consider it. I'm still debating.
Concepts of Biology is perhaps the most comprehensive introductory textbook that I have encountered. Every topic that you would expect in a general read more
Concepts of Biology is perhaps the most comprehensive introductory textbook that I have encountered. Every topic that you would expect in a general biology textbook is present, from chemistry to ecology. I liked that the text included topics sometimes missed in other texts, such as biotechnology and physiology. While the text is designed to be a pared down version intended for non-majors, it is still fairly lengthy. If you download the text as a PDF it is 621 pages (although some of that is empty space due to formatting issues).
I found no inaccurate information. To be best of my knowledge, the content is factual and objective.
This textbook has up-to-date information. An example would be the discussion of protists. Some textbooks still refer to this group as a kingdom but this text deftly handles the revisions in taxonomy that are occurring without providing too much information (information that is is likely to change in the near future as taxonomic revisions continue).
Overall, the textbook adequately explains the content and provides sufficient supplementary figures. However, there are some major problems in the beginning portions of the text that are hard to overlook. When compared to traditional textbooks, these are major short-comings and that is why I give the text a "3" for this category. For example, in chapter 2 there are several examples of jargon being used without proper explanation. These include the use of "polymer", a term that is repeatedly used but never explained. Also, in the same chapter they never bother to explain what an organic molecule is! During the discussion of phospholipids and steroids, no figures are presented to assist in the explanation. I have never seen a textbook that doesn't provide a diagram to help explain the amphipathic nature of phospholipids. This chapter in particular could have used a lot more figures (for example, they attempt to explain things like pleated sheets without the use of illustrations). In addition, steroids are simply described as having a "ring structure," which of course could also be used to describe sugars. There are a few other instances similar to this, but they are all found in Unit 1. If I were to adopt this textbook for my class, I would absolutely have to fix these problems first.
Overall, the writing, formatting, and style are consistent from chapter to chapter, despite the various authors. However, as noted in my comments for the "Clarity" section, there were significant problems that only arose in Unit 1. The only other issue that I noticed was that the number of review questions at the end of each section widely varied. For equal amounts of content, sometimes there would only be 1 or 2 review questions, and other times perhaps 6 or 7.
The textbook appropriately separates the content into units of reasonable length. A positive feature of this text is that you don't have to scroll for days to reach the end of each unit. From firsthand experience, I know that students appreciate that.
Overall, the textbook does a great job of organizing the content. Personally, I feel that the chapters on DNA and gene expression should occur before the units on genetics, but most textbooks don't organize it that way so I did not let it affect my evaluation of this text. However, in Unit 1 (again) I was left scratching my head. The text doesn't introduce the term "cellular respiration" until after its discussion on glycolysis. The text fails to contextualize why glycolysis is important and the different ways in which it is used. The text goes on to explain the citric acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, but again fails to explicitly tie all of the processes together under the umbrella of "cellular respiration". I was also perplexed as to why waxes were included with steroids in the same subheading. Waxes are much more similar to fats than steroids. Lastly, a subsection titled "facilitated transport" was included in the section on passive transport, suggesting to the reader that it is not also important (vital, in fact) for active transport.
Overall, the interface is excellent. I gave the text a rating of 4 because a few figures had text that was very small and hard to read compared to the main text. See figure 7 in section 1.1, for example.
Overall, the grammar was excellent. However, in Unit 1, the author(s) really struggled with topic sentences. For example, the topic sentence for the first paragraph in a subsection on hydrogen bonds reads, "Ionic and covalent bonds are strong bonds that require considerable energy to break." It's not until the 4th sentence that hydrogen bonds are actually mentioned!
With regard to photographs/portraits of people, the text shows almost exclusively white men. The only two pictures used for the "Careers in Action" section were white men. Of the pictures/portraits were they explicitly highlighted scientists, all were white males except for one which included a white female. This may be the only textbook that I have seen that has not included a picture of Rosalind Franklin when discussing DNA, doing so would have balanced the scales. Overall, this textbook was done a poor job of highlighting people of color and women. They should specifically highlight scientists that fit these descriptions, in addition to showing pictures of racially diverse people in the "Careers in Action" section.
Overall, this is a strong textbook and has many positive attributes. If the corrections to Unit 1 were made and the text included a more racially and gender-balanced focus, then it would be superior to traditional textbooks. One final note: the addition of review questions at the end of each module are great, in theory, but almost all of the multiple choice questions require only simple recall from students. Including questions higher up on Bloom's taxonomy would demonstrate to students that they are expected to synthesize, apply, and otherwise critically think about the material.
This text covers most ideas, however not always fully. Already, within the first 6 chapters, I have noticed many small, yet still important concepts read more
This text covers most ideas, however not always fully. Already, within the first 6 chapters, I have noticed many small, yet still important concepts that are not discussed. For instance: Hydrolysis and dehydration reactions are not discussed. The wording is used in a few places, but there is no defining section describing water's role in chemical bonds, which is relevant in many further concepts in the book. Other important concepts that are missing, or not fully included, are Salts/electrolytes and Redox reactions. Also ATP/ADP are barely covered. These are crucial concepts necessary to the understanding of following concepts. It is understood that this is a book for non-majors, however, this is not quite comprehensive enough for a college-level non-majors biology course. I am pleased to see a glossary of terms after each chapter. This is very useful for students.
I have not noticed any errors, or blatantly incorrect information. The only small inaccuracy I found is that electrolyes dissolve in water. Salts dissolve in water, releasing electrolytes (ions). These do not further dissolve.
This textbook is basic enough that the information can remain relevant for many years. Most of this information is general concepts which haven't changed, nor are likely to change for many years.
I think the clarity is great. It stays easy to read and comprehend for a non-majors level. The only problem I see is use of words such as hydrolysis/dehydration and oxidation/reduction, with no formal discussion defining these words. The context they are used in is not enough to derive an understanding of the words.
I have noticed no issues in terms of consistency and framework. There is a nice flow to the information.
All chapters are well divided into small concept chunks with appropriate subheadings. This makes it easy to direct students to what to read, verses what can be skipped, as well as allowing students to properly chunk notes taken from reading.
The topics have a logical and meaningful flow, which is very well organized.
On the computers and devises I have used, I have noted no problems with interface. I know that my students are viewing the text in many forms, including tablets and smartphones, from which I have heard of no problems.
I have yet to see a grammatical errors.
I feel that there are many references and examples to biological situations, none of which I have noted any insensitivity or offensiveness. Most don't lend themselves to inclusiveness issues.
Overall the book is well-done, and a blessing to be able to provide to students for free. I feel it just needs a bit more information added to it to round it out fully, and make it appropriate for a college level biology course.
This book covers most topics addressed in non-major 100-level biology survey courses. The one subject area that I teach at the 100-level that is not read more
This book covers most topics addressed in non-major 100-level biology survey courses. The one subject area that I teach at the 100-level that is not covered in this book is ‘Plant Structure and Function’. Therefore, I must use the 200-level version of this text, Openstax Biology for that course. That is unfortunate because much of the Biology textbook is too detailed and technical for a non-major 10-week course. Nevertheless, this book provides clear and accessible text on the subject areas that it covers. Each chapter provides a glossary of key terms and a few review and critical thinking questions. One significant drawback to this book is that wide-ranging and sometimes disparate topics are groups together into a single chapter. For example, Chapter 13: Diversity of Microbes, Fungi, and Protists comprise a single chapter so that members of each domain/kingdom are provided very little coverage. This is the case for much of the book’s subject areas. ‘Population and Community Ecology’ also are grouped into a single chapter, which means neither is covered particularly well. This lack of coverage means that not all topics that are introduced are given enough text space and/or supporting figures for students to understand them. Chapter 16, The Body’s Systems covers 6 major topics areas of human A&P. Because this book should not be used as a substitute for a dedicated A&P textbook, that is not too much of a problem. However, some topics probably should not have been broached in this textbook. In sections 16.5 and 16.6, muscle contractions and neuron action potentials are briefly described. Yet, neither of the descriptions of these complex processes are supported by images. Decent, Creative Commons images do exist for these processes because I use the images from the Openstax ‘Biology’ in my 100-level course. The books share many of the same illustrations so I don’t know why these were omitted from this textbook. If it deemed that these processes are too complex for non-major biology courses, then students would be better served by not having the topics covered at all than trying to puzzle out how depolarization works or how sarcomeres shorten in skeletal muscles without an illustration. There is a video embedded within this section that does describe the process but very few students utilize these links. Fortunately, the immune system is given its own chapter in this book and provides a good basic overview of the components.
I have not encountered serious issues in the accuracy or bias of topics that I cover. The brevity makes some topics difficult to understand. Broken links are probably the most significant accuracy issues comes from the extensive use of links to outside learning resources. Even those that point to resources located on the Openstax site sometimes do not work or are not supported. However, the website has a good Errata section that you can submit errors and broken links to. These appeared to be addressed relatively quickly and editors provide a table in which the status of the reported errors or broken link is available. I have checked this table when I find a link that does not work to see if it has been reported.
As an instructor of non-major biology classes, I am particularly concerned with the take-home messages that students will carry with them long after they leave my classroom. This textbook provides many good examples of concepts and processes that are relevant to non-major biology students. The section on Genetic Engineering (Chapter 10, Bioengineering) provides a section on the application of genetic engineering and GMOs, a topic that students have many misconceptions about. Some updates are needed; for example, there is a brief overview of the one-child policy in China, which needs to be updated. The paragraph in the book can be a good introduction that encourages discussion on why this policy changed. However, the brevity of the text means that a lot of concepts are introduced but not explained enough for students to understand their relevance. For example, the process and consequences of eutrophication and ocean acidification could be expanded, and while I believe that my role is fleshing out these topics is critical, these topics are so important and relevant that they should get better coverage in the textbook. Ocean acidification is not covered in Chapter 21, Conservation and Biodiversity under the heading of Climate Change. In fact, I could find not find the term ocean acidification in the most recent online version of the site (06/17). One of the chief strengths of this book is that is editable so can be easily updated. The downside is that it is not clear to students who purchase used versions of the hard copy that changes have been made. The Openstax website provides excellent documentation of changes that have been made to the textbook, but instructors must help students understand how this textbook works so that students are not frustrated. I use a hard copy that is a few years old so I am careful to consult the online version and update my PDF versions on a regular basis.
The clarity of the prose is excellent and is written at a level that is appropriate for lower-division undergraduate students. It is very difficult to explain complex terms and concepts to a non-major audience and many of these students do not have strong reading comprehension skills. As I noted above in the Comprehensiveness section, adding a few more illustrations that support the text would be useful.
This book had many contributors, but it is consistent in both layout and prose. That is important because we cover most of the chapters in this book in our non-majors biology series. Importantly, formatting is consistent throughout the book in all versions.
The modularity of this books works well for me because it is easy to assign reading by sections. The sections can be read in isolation but it is easy to assign one section in another chapter that will provide context. It is important that if you prefer using a hard copy of the book that you assign reading by section rather than by page number, which has no meaning to online readers and may be incorrect for students whose print version came out later or earlier than your version.
This textbook is organized in the same hierarchical way other introductory biology books are organized (atoms --> biosphere). Because we organize our biology series in the same way, this organization works well.
The interface of the book works well and I understood how to navigate the online version quickly. Some students have a difficult time negotiating the online version of the book. About half of the students in my classes who do not fully use the book point to their difficulty navigating it. This apparently is because each section (e.g., 10.2) is a separate page. This should not be a problem as it is easy to move to the previous or next sections by clicking on the navigation buttons. The search function works well with the caveat that you need to hit the enter button to execute the search. Partial words or phrases are fine as long as they are not misspelled. These are the kinds of tips that students need to understand to fully utilize the book. It is worth the time to show students how to navigate the book rather than assume that they will figure it out. Some of the images are not crisp enough in the hard copy of the book but they are readable. The photos are generally good quality and informative.
The text is well-written and generally error-free. Any errors are easily reportable to the Openstax website.
I have not found evidence of culturally insensitive or offensive material in this book. I would recommend that the book use more examples that help students understand and appreciate the biological significance of the diversity of human traits (e.g., the evolution of lactose tolerance).
I have used this textbook or the Openstax Biology textbook for several terms. I like these books and students are grateful for access to a free textbook. However, we need to understand how students are using these textbooks - or in many cases, not using them. In classes where I have surveyed textbook utilization, between a third and a half of students do not use the textbook or use it very little. The reason that they give the most often is that they prefer to read a hard copy of the book and/or have difficulty navigating the online or PDF versions. A few have technical issues and cannot access the book with older computers. This issue appears easily rectified by providing a hard copy of the textbook for a nominal cost, which Openstax has done admirably. We stock this textbook in the college bookstore to make it as accessible as possible. I also require the use the online Sapling Learning support system to encourage students to engage with the textbook. The problem is that the siren song of free means that most students will not purchase the textbook if they can access it for free, even if they are unwilling or unable to read an onscreen version. There is only so much that we can do in this situation but it is important for students and instructors alike to be aware of it. I was an enthusiastic adopter of this technology and it was not until I surveyed the students that I understood the extent of this problem. Much of the value of this textbook is virtually ignored by most students, particularly the embedded links to supporting resources. Almost none of my students access these links, even when I tell them how useful they will be to illustrate difficult concepts. In fact, many students automatically google for information (much of it incorrect or incomplete) rather than use their textbook. If we want students to use these resources, we need to be very clear that 1) the textbook is an important learning resource, and 2) they are accountable for learning the material. We need to make hard copies available in college bookstores and on reserve at the library. We also must take the time in class to demonstrate how to fully utilize the features of the book. As instructors who were not immersed in technology in our formative years, we often assume that our students are more technically savvy than they are. Most importantly, we need to help students recognize the kind of learners they are so they can use strategies that increase their engagement with these resources and their success in our classes.
The book covers a wide range of content appropriate to a non-majors level biology course or survey introduction; with the exception of a few content read more
The book covers a wide range of content appropriate to a non-majors level biology course or survey introduction; with the exception of a few content areas such as evolution and diversity of non living and lower organisms, Plant diversity and physiology, and the mammalian sensory system. For example, the 3 individual chapters (covering Non-living organisms and prokaryotes together, Protists, and Fungi) in our previous textbook were consolidated into one massive chapter. The same occurred with the plant content. What was 5 chapters (evolution & diversity, structure & organization, regulation, and reproduction) was also consolidated into a single (albeit large) chapter. The 5 senses were completely glanced over in the segment off Body systems. On one hand students appreciated have "less" reading outside of class, however, the lack of additional coverage in the textbook may have been a contributing factor to student success in the first year of adoption. Even with the utilization of the same lecture materials pre and post OER adoption and the same exams being proctored. Students who used the text were under-prepared for the assessments. One could argue depth required in subject matter, specifically in introductory courses, however, across the department, we felt the lack of coverage in these areas was a disservice to our students. Even though we may have covered the content in lecture, they needed to have additional exposure to the content outside of class to increase their retention of the material. Our fix: We remixed and revised the Openstax Concepts of Biology textbook with chapters from the Majors "Biology" text (that were trimmed down, removing concepts we thought were beyond the reasonable limits of an introductory course). In the following year, the student success "bounced back" and became comparable to the pre-OER distribution of success.
Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. It is also clearly worded to aid in student understanding.
With the exception of Chapter 10 (on Biotechnology) the content is up to date and worded to focus on the models of previous scientific processes and the "big picture" generalizations, which will aid in the longevity of the text. As far as Biotechnology goes, that field is rapidly growing due to the advancements in the field, and I could see needing to supplement a paragraph or two within the next 5 years.
Text is clearly worded, concepts are focused on major distinctions and terminology is added in a progressive pace, making it easy for students to build upon. There are also ample examples of concepts which can provide context for student understanding.
The pace and focus of the material is consistent throughout subject matter, this provides student with a regular framework in which to access the material.
Having used this text in a Revise and Remix model, I can attest to the modularity and ease with which we were able to supplement content in a course (and even term) specific manner.
The chapters progress on content appropriately, which enables our year long sequence (over the span of 3 courses) to generally proceed in a linear fashion; with the exception of Unit 6 Ecology being discussed following the unit 4 coverage of plants and plant dynamics.
The books interface and navigation has been seamless for a majority of my interactions. Additionally, the images/charts are high enough quality, that we were able to offer the students an option to purchase a paperback copy purchased for cost of printing only with no distortion to the graphics, even when we opted for black and white, over color printing.
No errors have caught my eye.
The text is written scientifically, without bias, and as a result has no culturally insensitive references. The text and subject matter is focused on a variety of organisms, continents and only addresses races/ethnicity in the context of historical examples, such as the epidemics that broke out after western settlers made content with Native Americas, who had previously seen no exposure to these pathogens. Even then, it is matter of fact and tastefully focused on the concept of immunity.
We have used this text across the entire Biology department for 3 years now, and both students and faculty are happy with it. It is a valuable resource in content matter, accessibility and scale-ability.
This text is used for non-majors Biology and I have used it as a textbook replacement for 3 years. It provides a clear and concise survey for the read more
This text is used for non-majors Biology and I have used it as a textbook replacement for 3 years. It provides a clear and concise survey for the intended audience. Overall, it serves well as a textbook replacement and/or textbook alternative. The table of contents allows you to view the sequential topics in each section. Each chapter includes the following sections: Careers in Action, Section Summary, Art Connection, Multiple Choice, Free Response and Glossary. The Careers in Action is a real-world application of science for non-majors; this provides them a glimpse into the field of science. Each of the other sections are reinforcement tools for the students after their readings. The Free Response is also a great prompt for class discussions and discussion boards.
Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. In some areas, more detail can be added (Chapter 16-Body Systems).
The relevance/longevity is impacted most by the Careers in Action. Those may need to be updated and/or new ones added to keep the field relevant to the readers.
Text is clear and easy to follow for students and faculty. The end of chapter glossary is there to provide clarity of technical terms.
Text is consistent.
The text is easy to read whether the PDF, online or enhanced tablet version. The choice of device does not present any issues to the reader.
The topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion which is similar to the organization of the course I teach. In the Chapter 16, there could be a bit more information on the Body's Systems; currently, I supplement the areas with other resources.
There are not any interface issues I am aware of for myself or my students. I have used the PDF as well as the enhanced version on a tablet and no issues.
Grammar is clear and concise.
It is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
This has been a great resource for students at my institution by providing the content needed to successfully exit their General Biology course requirement. The flexibility of how the student may access/obtain the text is a great value-add. For some being able to print from the PDF or have it accessible to them on their mobile devices or even order a bound-printed copy relives varied levels of stress for them.
The book has a very easily accessible and complete table of contents. The online book works well in that each chapter title can be clicked on to read more
The book has a very easily accessible and complete table of contents. The online book works well in that each chapter title can be clicked on to open a list of the subtitles explaining the topics covered in the sections. The information covered in the book is well laid out and covers the all material that should be included in a 100 level biology class.
I didn't find any errors in the books information, nor did the book seem biased in any way.
The material in the book is relevant to anyone who is alive and curious. The way the book accesses internet information is commendable- making it a very desirable addition to any contemporary students collection. Updates to links may be an issue as time passes, and inclusion of varying emergent technologies or careers. However, that last part has always been true of science materials.
I find the lay out impeccable. It introduces what it is going to talk about then talks about the introduced topics clearly with great graphic support. The fluidity of the writing is rarely found at this level. The vocabulary appendices at the end of each Chapter make it friendly to all students including ELA.
The pattern of Chapter, subtopic, vocabulary, review and questions is consistent and reliable. A great way for new"ish" students to get used to college level reading.
For the most part, the text is divided nicely with graphics and career information or internet connections. There were a few areas with large blocks of text, but not many. The dividing graphics and career information are not disruptive because they highlight subjects that are mentioned in the text.
The organizational structure of the book follows a common flow of Biology texts. I thought it was a little off that genetics was discussed before the structure of DNA, RNA and the cell divisions. Those usually help a student comprehend the way the genes separate and recombine during reproduction, thus make for the genetic variances taught. But, besides that, the flow was perfect.
I noticed no interface issues. The internet book worked perfectly and every movie, link and picture worked well. No visible distortions.
I noticed two areas where the sentences didn't flow well. One was written poorly, but that is not bad percentage wise, compared to the whole book.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Biology is universal and doesn't make reference to any particular cultures except for bacterial cultures, and as science is based on fact, there are no ill placed opinions about said bacteria. Just perhaps a few less than positive hypotheses.
I am thrilled about the availability of such a high quality and timely resource for lower level biology students. It is engaging where sometimes the science can get dry, and relevant for the students because of its direct tie-ins to careers.
I was motivated to search for an open-access text for my non-majors class in fall 2016 for two reasons. First, I could not justify a non-major read more
I was motivated to search for an open-access text for my non-majors class in fall 2016 for two reasons. First, I could not justify a non-major spending around $100 for a book that would be used for one semester. Second, textbooks in all of the classes I teach are really recommended supplements to the other materials I make available, not required reading. And so I used OpenStax’s Concepts of Biology, a text intended for non-biology majors. This text is quite exhaustive in coverage (a stronger word than comprehensive) – no major areas of the subject are omitted. This means it contains too much material for a single-semester course. In addition, I think it covers the majority of topics in more depth than is needed for non-majors. These comments need to be put in context. Almost all non-majors texts available in print also include too much breadth and depth. Indeed, many seem written for a mixed majors/non-majors audience, although this is seldom stated. The upside to providing lots of breadth and depth is that the instructor has a lot of material to choose from. The downside is that students may resent paying for pages they don’t use (not a problem with an Openstax text), and become confused when levels of detail given in lectures, labs, and discussions don’t match those in the text. Of course, it is the job of the instructor to guide students to achieving an appropriate level of understanding.
The text appears to be accurate, error-free, and unbiased.
Most of the biology relevant to a non-major doesn’t change much over short(ish) periods of time. And so, for example, the basics of transcription and translation will be the same next year as they are this year. However, Chapter Ten on biotechnology, will need revision and updating, whether by the authors or instructor. For example, I find no discussion of how CRISPR/Cas9 will facilitate gene editing, and so revolutionize agriculture and medicine. I believe it is the instructor’s responsibility to include what may be missing from the text. One simple strategy to underscore relevance is to include material from newspapers and other (reliable!) media in lectures, labs, and discussions. It is crucial to show non-majors that biology is important to them and to society, and that it moves forward on a truly daily basis.
Biology has its own vocabulary and technical terminology. This can sometimes lead to confusion – my favorite example is use of the concept of a theory. The text certainly uses the language of biology, and does so in an appropriate fashion. Glossaries of terms are included, although I cannot find an index. In addition to diagrams, which are well constructed, there are questions that require some critical and synthetic thought scattered through the text. The book includes chapter summaries and sample questions (multiple choice and short answer, the latter called Free Response. These questions are not as numerous as in most of the print books I am familiar with.
The level of consistency of terminology and framework is high.
The text is organized into six units within which there are multiple chapters. For example, Chapter Two of Unit One deals with the Chemistry of Life. Just because students don’t like chemistry is no reason to omit the subject, but this chapter nicely illustrates how parts of the text provide more detail than some may think is necessary. That said, it does prepare the student for detailed treatments of cellular respiration and photosynthesis to come – if the instructor deems such detailed treatments to be appropriate. The ordering of the Units, and that of chapters within units, does not follow the order I use in my class. For example, I deal with evolution in the first two weeks of the semester, as I believe it to be the lens through which all of biology should be viewed. The text waits until Unit Four to present Evolution and the Diversity of Life. However, Units and Chapters can be organized in a way that preserves flow and connectedness as per an instructor's requirements.
There are many stories that can be told about biology, and no one story is necessarily better than any other. The text tells a story that is different from mine, and so the organization of my class and the text do not match. The organization of the text is certainly logical and clear – it’s just not how I would organize it. I don’t consider this to a big problem.
The text is easy to use, and includes clear and relevant artwork and video clips. Specific chapters are easily accessible through the Contents function - an index would be nice (I can't find one). Additional on-line resources are available to the instructor, including but not limited to test questions and PowerPoint slides (I choose not to use these, but they are just fine).
If there are any grammatical errors (and I didn’t notice any) then they are minor, as are any typos.
I find nothing insensitive or offensive in terms of gender, ethnicity, and background.
I believe that Concepts of Biology is an excellent text for a non-majors biology class. It is accessible, nicely up-to-date, and covers relevant topics. And, of course, it is free unless one chooses to make a donation. I provided students in my class with a survey to determine their opinions of the book. Only two of 216 first-year students used the text regularly, with 30% saying that they used it at least occasionally. This is a disappointingly low number. While students were not required to complete end-of-section questions, 40% who used the text made use of those questions. I am pleased by this level of initiative. As expected, most students (59%) found the material in the text to be more detailed than my lectures; most of the remaining students (33%) said that the text and lectures were comparable. The majority of students found the book at least somewhat connected with my lectures (88%) and at least somewhat useful overall (86%). I asked about whether the book should be used again. Most students (64%) said that it should remain as recommended – 16% said it should be required. Of the remaining students, 10% responded that no text is necessary, and 10% wanted access to a ‘conventional’ book-store text. Most students gave replies that I expected, for the most part. The book was judged to be useful and well-connected with my lectures, although more detailed. The majority view was that the text should be recommended in the future, a position with which I agree.
Very comprehensive and good glossary and index, as good as any of the many other texts I've seen. Not sure if index could use some work -- for read more
Very comprehensive and good glossary and index, as good as any of the many other texts I've seen. Not sure if index could use some work -- for example, I could not find any reference to respiration, cellular respiration, aerobic respiration; yet, anaerobic respiration is listed.
One thing that bothers me is Fig 1.11 -- it seems to be telling reader that Carl Woese's phylogenetic tree is accepted as present-day evolutionary groupings. For example, Eukarya should list Plants, Animals, Fungi, Protista, rather than slime molds, ciliates, flagellates, etc.
Content appears to be up-to-date, except for that phylogenetic tree in Ch 1--it's okay that it's the original one from Woese, but there should be an explanation that it's not up-to-date. I believe necessary updates will be easy to make.
Not sure if it's just the font being so small, but it does have a very wordy, slightly tedious flow to it. However, the animations that are built in are very good.
I do find that the text is consistent in regard to terminology and organization.
The text is done well in regard to smaller reading sections but still has a very wordy feel to it; perhaps a larger font and more visuals would help.
Excellent organization and flow
I found no navigation problems or distortion of images/charts
Saw no indication of culturally insensitivity or offensiveness.
My students have used this text with WileyPlus for about two years now and I can't recall one complaint, whereas there were complaints about every expensive text used before that -- and I've been teaching since 2000.
Overall, I found this textbook covers the basic topics and concepts you can find in a classic biology textbook; it also provides information from read more
Overall, I found this textbook covers the basic topics and concepts you can find in a classic biology textbook; it also provides information from recent publications pertaining to biomedicine and climate issues which can be interesting to non-major students. I am planning to use this book next semester, and I think it will be a good textbook for me to outline my lectures, and for students to read relevant chapters before they come to lectures. The online version is especially handy because of the search function, as well as the links to outside information sources. The links to some hand-on modules seem very interesting and will be easily used to develop assignment questions. I think for a non-major biology class, it is essential to use stories, controversies and novel technological development to attract students so they can find biology is actually relevant to their everyday lives, and overcome some students’ science-phobia. The “concepts in action” and “career in action” modules in this textbook provides interesting material for students to understand how biology is linked to social science, epidemiology etc. Although, I think for instructors who want to cover more in-depth information on certain chapters (such as climate change in the “Treats to Biodiversity” section), this textbook may not be sufficient and some additional reading material is necessary. This is true for other non-major biology textbooks (not open access).
I found the textbook to be accurate on the major concepts and current development in many fields of biology. There are many controversial issues in biology that different instructors might find they do not agree with the information provided by this textbook (especially those sections to do with taxonomy and phylogeny), but I did not find major conflicts. I do have several minor issues (after reading Unit 4,5,6): Section 12.1 “Taxonomy is the science of naming and grouping…… A hierarchical system has levels and each group at one of the levels includes groups at the next lowest level, so that at the lowest level each member belongs to a series of nested groups”. Shouldn’t the “lowest” be “highest” instead? I guess it depends on whether the authors consider Domain as the lowest or the highest level of taxonomy. I always consider Domain as the highest level and therefore each group at one of the levels includes groups at the next highest level. I found this paragraph a little confusing. Maybe it can be clarified by referring to the figure and have a better definition of what “lowest” and “highest” is. Section 12.2 in “Molecular Comparisons”: …To determine the relationships between very different species such as Eukarya and Archaea…” I recommend change it to “very different taxa” Section 12.2 Figure 4. Lancelet shouldn’t be included in the clade Vertebrata
Information in this textbook stays relatively up-to-date. Although there are a few places where I think the authors should have provided references for the readers to know where the information is from and how recent the sources are. For example, in chapter 13.3 about Protista, the textbook describes a six-Supergroup classification system in Protista (Figure 3). Since the phylogeny and classification of Protista is a very controversial topic (as the textbook also mentioned), it is important for the readers to know where and when this classification system was developed, and whether there are alternative systems use (as most other textbooks are using a system with five Supergroups). Another similar example is in chapter 13.4 when the authors talk about the classification of fungi, the old and new classification system were both introduced but not clearly cited. If the textbook will be updated by authors and other contributors, it is important to know where the current text is based on.
Most of the textbook is well written with clear and precise language. However, I do find sometimes the information is too descriptive and not in-depth enough. For example, in the introduction of chapter 20, the textbook provides an example of an ecosystem. It introduces the oak-pine barren as a nutrient-poor, fire frequent ecosystem, and talked about what researchers study in such ecosystems (the movement of resources). The text ends here, and if I were a student who is reading the textbook, I would like to continue to read more information about this ecosystem and how the Karner blue butterfly and wild lupine (shown in the pictures) have adapted to it, which is a very nice example to show student that not only nutrient rich ecosystems are important, but even ecosystems with restricted resources can support unique biodiversity. Similarly, in the introduction of chapter 12, the textbook uses a bee and an Echinacea flower as an example to demonstrate a bee and a flower can be related. I assume the authors were suggesting the co-evolution of Echinacea and pollinators and how phylogenetically flowers became diverse, but I am not sure (they might be referring to the fact that both of them are in Domain Eukarya), and nowhere could students find answers to this example. Other minor issues: Chapter 13.4 Fungal Diversity: This section talks about an older, four major groups classification system (which were listed and shown in Figure 5), but the textbook also indicates a fifth division (a polyphyletic, unrelated fungus group) and a sixth group (which does not fit with any previous groups). The last two groups were not very clearly named and I think it is very confusing. I recommend revise the text to lay out the four traditional groups, and then introduce the two new groups (with names indicated).
The textbook is consistent in terms of taxonomy and biological terminology.
This textbook can be easily divided into sections and used independently. Some of the later chapters, such as the Evolution and Diversity of Life and Animal Structure and Function, do use information from earlier cell and genetics related chapters (such as what is ribosomal RNA). But I think in the online version, the search box is very useful for students and instructors to locate the definition of unfamiliar terms. Students should be able to read these later chapters even if the instructor skips the molecular biology and cell biology sections. This is especially helpful if the instructor is teaching a non-major class not aiming to cover the entire scope of biology, but only focusing on conservation biology, global change biology, etc.
1. The information arrangement in this book follows a structure that is commonly adapted by biology textbooks, especially books for non-majors. In the first chapter, the book starts with providing definition of “life”, and introduces the levels of biological terms and the concept of taxonomy. It also introduces different foci of biology studies and how it is related to other areas in science. I think for instructors who may want to skip some chapters to go to a specific topic in biology, this first chapter provides a functional overarching introduction of the book. The book then divided into cell biology, molecular biology, evolution/diversity, animal structure/function, ecology/conservation biology chapters, which again is a very typical outline for non-major biology books. My non-major class follows the same structure so it works well for me. 2. I find the “Summary” at the beginning of each chapter very helpful for students to understand the layout of information in each chapter.
I mostly used the online version of this textbook to do this review, and I found the links to images and outside websites in this textbook function very well. One issue I have encountered is that the online version of the textbook mostly uses gradually reduced fonts of titles to distinguish the different levels of information within a chapter, and the difference between these fonts are not very obvious. Sometimes I get confused whether I am reading text pertaining to a new topic, or it is still within the previous section. For example, in section 13.4, the textbook lists Fungal Diversity, Pathogenic Fungi, Plant Parasites and Pathogens, Animal and Human Parasites and Pathogens and Beneficial Fungi. I assume the layout of information is Fungal Diversity Pathogenic Fungi Plant Parasites and Pathogens Animal and Human Parasites and Pathogens Beneficial Fungi But it is very hard to tell while reading the webpage because the fonts of these titles are hard to distinguish. Another example is in chapter 13.1, the Beneficial Prokaryotes have the following topics: Prokaryotes, and Food and Beverages; Using Prokaryotes to Clean up Our Planet: Bioremediation; and Prokaryotes in and on the Body. The last topic’s title should have the same font as the former two topics, but currently it has a smaller font, which makes it seem like the last topic is nesting in the “Using Prokaryotes to Clean up Our Planet” section. I recommend in addition to gradually reduced fonts, the authors can consider to use other ways (such as different colors, shades, italicized fonts or bold letters) to better distinguish the information nested within a specific topic.
I did not notice grammatical errors.
I did not find any cultural insensitive or offensive information
I believe open access is the future of textbooks. The merit of this textbook is the free access and its flexibility to be modified. And yet it is peer reviewed by many contributors and users. The web based multimedia interface adds a lot of tools that make this an interesting textbook for non-major biology students.
This textbook covers the important topics found in a general biology textbook. I teach an introductory biology course and this textbook covers the read more
This textbook covers the important topics found in a general biology textbook. I teach an introductory biology course and this textbook covers the critical topics with clarity and detail. I was impressed by the text's presentation of topics and the ease with which one can find important concepts in the chapter by chapter glossary. Many of my students are incoming freshmen and they will find this book refreshing and understandable. Historical contexts are given when needed and tied closely to the concepts to help the reader gain an understanding of scientific principles.
The content is accurate and understandable. I found no content inconsistencies. The authors provide the detail when detail is needed and clearly articulate the explanations of the concepts.
The content is up-to-date and covers current biodiversity issues and problems. The information is organized such that updates will easily be accomplished.
Besides for its comprehensiveness the next best aspect of this text is its clarity. My freshman students will not find this a difficult read. The scientific concepts and terminology are presented with just enough detail to make it understandable and not overwhelming.
Each chapter is structured the same way. Students will know what to expect and can easily follow the links to visual representations of the biological concepts.
The text is split into easily read sections. The text's design allows me to schedule students readings around my class activities and experiments. To reorganize this book to fit your class can be done with ease with how the text is organized.
The topics are presented in a logical fashion. Each chapter has an organizing introduction and the topics flow from this organization. Each chapter fits together seamlessly.
The texts illiustrations are clear, the web links and supporting materials provide addtional support and are free of any interface issues.
The text contains no grammatical errors
Material was presented in culturally sensitive ways and presented non-biased representations in the artwork, web links, and illustrations.
I am excited to use this text in my class and to modify it to fit my class.
Overall, the text is nicely comprehensive. There are a few areas of weakness, such as the following: The ecology section does not begin with an read more
Overall, the text is nicely comprehensive. There are a few areas of weakness, such as the following: The ecology section does not begin with an overview of ecology, which I believe is a weakness. I would like to see a general description of the parts of a plant at the beginning of the section on plants (Chpt 14) I would like to see answers to the questions ("Art Connection" and end of chapter "Review Questions") available, but perhaps that is in the instructor support materials. I have not had a chance to take a look at those yet.
The text appears accurate and unbiased, I did not note any inaccuracies. The lack of bias is significant considering that this material touches on many culturally sensitive issues.
The examples used seem quite relevant and applicable. While current and up to date, they should still be relevant for a significant time.
The material is clear and concise. At times it was in a format different from what I am accustomed to seeing, which took some adaptation and additional thought. That does not mean it would be a detriment to students, who typically do not have preconceived ideas about content. Chpt 19, for example, is not in a format which I am familiar with and would take some adjusting to on my part.
The text appears to be quite consistent internally in terms of terminology and framework.
The modularity of the text is good. It should be quite practical to assign smaller reading assignments which will fit and complement the whole. For courses that do not cover the entire contents of the book in one term, this is a nice advantage.
the organization, structure, and flow of the material topics is logical.
I had few problems with navigation and the images/charts and other display features loaded cleanly and without issue. All the links which I tried opened easily and without issue. I like the external links a lot. Sending students, for example, to the USDA Forest Service site and similar locations will stimulate them to continue exploring and learning on their own. One down side is that in order to view the images for the review questions, one needs to click on a link. If a student has printed the materials, this will not work for them. However, I am guessing that the printed version of this text would include the images as well.
The grammar is accurate and consistent, I noticed no errors.
I did not find any of the material to be culturally insensitive or offensive and I doubt my students would either. Excellent selection of examples.
I look forward to exploring the instructor support materials. That has been a major impediment in the past to my adoption of an OER.
This book was surprisingly comprehensive. Never using an open textbook, prior to Concepts of Biology, I had anticipated a truncated and therefore read more
This book was surprisingly comprehensive. Never using an open textbook, prior to Concepts of Biology, I had anticipated a truncated and therefore non-comprehensive textbook. However, I believe that all major concepts were covered. I primarily focused on the microbiology and ecology sections. While the depth of coverage is some sections is lacking, by which I mean things aren't covered ad nauseum, this could easily be supplemented in the classroom. Many microbiology textbooks spend far too much time focusing on every phylogenetic group, while this book chooses not to do so. I believe this is beneficial to avoid memorization. Focus on specific groups during class time, if you wish to.
I believe the content withing this book is accurate and error-free.
The content within this textbook is relevant and will be long-lasting, while lacking in the discussion of recent discoveries in each field. Whether this is a strategy by the authors or not, I cannot tell. This will increase the longevity of the text while putting the pressure on the instructor(s) to locate and present recent work in the field. Perhaps a small section at the end of each chapter addressing this would be helpful.
From what I have read, this book is quite clear. The use of jargon is a necessity in a lot of chapters, but these words are explained within the text in most cases and there is also a section at the end of each chapter for definitions. Well done.
I believe the work within the textbook is consistent, I noticed little in terms of changing framework by chapter or section.
I believe the modularity of this book is sufficient. Chapters themselves are modules and each is subdivided into several sections.
Based on my reading of this textbook I believe the flow of organization is clear. However, as an instructor, it is possible that I am making connections between materials that would be lost on students. Until using this textbook in a real-world situation with students, I would be hesitant to make a declaration regarding the flow of each chapter.
"Concepts of Biology" appears to be free of interface issues. I did not take time to verify that each hyperlink within the text was accurate, but the links I clicked to access online multi-media seemed to function.
During my reading I noticed few to no distracting grammatical errors within the text.
I believe this textbook represents a standard biology textbook in terms of the cultural relevance. Evolution is discussed within this textbook, so that may be insensitive to some students based on their religious ideas and relationship to their scientific studies.
The use of multimedia components helps to break up the text and engage students. At the end of each chapter there are questions to assess understanding. However, some questions are true/false and are mere memorization. This, while necessary in quick review questions, aren't particularly engaging. Luckily, there are "critical thinking problems" within each chapter that can help students think a bit deeper. "By the end of this section" is an asset because it tells students what they should focus on. Some of them were to "understand..." - which is difficult for students to prove. Within Chapter 1 the text addresses the difference between theories and hypotheses. Within Chapter 11, the misconceptions regarding these two terms are explained in terms of the theory of evolution. I believe a note (within Chapter 1) directing students to Chapter 11, or including the misconceptions in Chapter 1, would be helpful. Snippets of "appropriate jobs" are interjected in each chapter. This, while a bit unconventional, provides a framework for students asking "when will I use this outside of class?". Within this textbook there is not much in the way of actual data to interpret or used as examples. This is not a large detriment, as long as the instructor takes time to provide students with case-studies and/or opportunities to interpret and create plots.
Concepts of Biology is an effectively comprehensive textbook for the non-major. It covers molecular and cellular biology, genetics and DNA, evolution read more
Concepts of Biology is an effectively comprehensive textbook for the non-major. It covers molecular and cellular biology, genetics and DNA, evolution and diversity, animal structure and function, and ecology. A good example of its inclusion of the appropriate level of detail is provided by chapters 4 & 5 on cellular metabolism. These can be difficult topics when one gets too deep into the weeds, but this text does a good job of providing enough detail to flesh out the concepts while keeping primarily to the bigger significance of energy capture, conversions, and release. Another example is provided by chapters 6 & 7 which provide a carefully considered and appropriately detailed discussion of the different types of cell division. There are some areas where some reconsideration in regard to comprehensiveness might improve the text. The absence of a discussion on the origin and history of life on earth was surprising and could be included in chapter 11 or 12 - including moving the geological time scale there from appendix A3. The section on the diversity of angiosperms, toward the end of chapter 14, was given somewhat short shrift. In chapter 20 in the section on biogeochemical cycles: at this level, there may be limited value in including phosphorus and sulfur cycles in addition to the others.
The content of the text was generally free of inaccuracies and bias. In the legend to figure 7.4, the cell illustrated at metaphase I actually has a chromosome number of n=4, not n=2 as indicated.
The content reflects current thinking and important issues in biology. For example, in chapter 11, section 11.5 is a very strong, relevant, and interesting discussion on "Common Misconceptions about Evolution." In chapters 1 and 12 reference is made to domains, as taxa broader than kingdoms. Chapter 13 contains a great treatment on "The Antibiotic Crisis." The discussion in chapter 19 on the one-child policy in China may need updating, given recent developments there.
Writing is generally clear and unambiguous. Figures are appropriately detailed without being too busy, nicely illustrated, and accompanied by legends with just the right amount of explanation without duplicating content in the text. Some suggestions on clarity: Figure 2.15: illustrate the monosaccharides in their ring forms rather than straight-chain forms. Section 3.5 on passive transport could be organized better. Chapter 9 could use a simple figure illustrating prokaryotic gene regulation (in addition to the eukaryotic one provided). Figure 14.2: the symbols for adult gametophyte and adult sporophyte could be more clear. Chapter 16: the discussion of the digestive system would be enhanced at this level by the inclusion of the terms macro- and micronutrients. Unit 5, chapters 16-18 on different body systems only focuses on human a&p (except for reproduction, where comparative information across phyla is included). This unit might be enhanced by the inclusion of at least brief comparative information across phyla in regard to the other body systems (though this is touched upon in chapter 15 on animal diversity). Appendix A is redundant; the periodic table of elements is already included in chapter 2. Appendix A2 is confusing and ineffective, and redundant of appendix A3. Appendix A3, the geological time scale should be enlarged and should clearly identify "era," "period," and "epoch" divisions - and should be moved to chapter 11 or 12.
The text is consistent throughout in terms of terminology and organization.
The text is organized into 6 units, broken into 21 chapters. Chapters are broken into between 2 to 6 sections, listed up front in a chapter outline. Each chapter section has a short list of outcomes at the beginning. Key terms are defined at the end of each chapter. There is a chapter summary at the end of each chapter. There are review and critical thinking questions at the end of each chapter. This modularity provides an effective organization and consistent alignment without disrupting flow.
Topics are covered in a logical order. Content is organized into 21 chapters grouped into 6 units. (The unit-level organization is presented in the table of contents but not evident in the body of the text.) The order of topics makes sense sequentially: from subcellular and cellular structure and function to cell division and DNA to evolution to diversity/taxonomic survey of life to animal body systems to ecology. Units 2 & 3 could be combined into a single unit - perhaps something like, "The Continuity of Life."
The text has an effective interface that results in ease of use for the reader.
The text is free of errors in grammar.
The text is not insensitive or offensive.
Very nice, comprehensive, accurate, relevant, clear, consistent, organized, well-written text! Thank you for the opportunity to review it.
The text provides an excellent overview of biology. From a basic chemistry to ecology, it's all there. The level of coverage varies somewhat. I read more
The text provides an excellent overview of biology. From a basic chemistry to ecology, it's all there. The level of coverage varies somewhat. I found the cellular respiration material to intense but the human physiology material very light. There is a glossary of terms at the end of each chapter and a comprehensive index at the end of the book.
I did not find any information I thought was inaccurate, in error or biased.
The content is currently up-to-date. As with any science book, updates will be needed as our knowledge progresses. However, at a non-majors level this is not as crucial as a majors intro or upper level majors course. The digital nature of the text should make updates easy.
The text is clearly written. Terms are clearly defined. The level of terminology varies from chapter to chapter probably due to different authorship.
The framework of the chapters are very consistent. The writing style and depth of coverage is not as consistent. The chapter on cellular respiration is quite detailed for a non-majors course. On the other hand, the chapter on human physiology covers only the bare essentials.
The text can easily be used as independent chapters. I jump around from one chapter to another in teaching concepts like nutrition in my course. Students do not find that they need to read other chapters to understand the assigned chapter.
The text follows a similar outline of material as other textbooks. If you have used other non-majors textbooks, this will be a comfortable transition.
The text did not have any interface issues that I am aware of. I've tried many of the links and they all worked for me.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
I do not find the text culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
To me the real value of this text is the Creative Commons license. I can take this text and edit it to make it fit my course. Other publishers offer to select individual chapters or include your material for a price. With this text, I can do all that to any extent I wish for free. I used the text as is for two semesters. Now I am providing a "reading assignment" that students can download based on my edits of this material. I value the freedom and my students love the price.
This provides an excellent level of detail for a non-majors biology course. Only a couple of areas were lacking (e.g. a very brief overview of read more
This provides an excellent level of detail for a non-majors biology course. Only a couple of areas were lacking (e.g. a very brief overview of membrane structure, and no mention of niche theory when discussing competition). Discussion of protists and fungi was from the perspective of their relevance to humans rather than a breakdown of their taxonomy, etc., but I think that's appropriate for a non-majors course. There is a glossary of terms at the end of each chapter, and it has a clickable index.
I found one inaccuracy: atomic mass is not the same as mass number, despite what the book says on p.33. That being said, the hard-copy textbook that I currently use makes that mistake as well as several crucial other errors, so this OpenStax book ranks higher in accuracy.
This text uses a combination of tried-and-true classical examples of the kind seen in almost every biology textbook (e.g. sickle cell anemia and other genetic disorders) and more updated examples that younger students may be more familiar with or find more relevant. It appears that updates would be easy to implement.
This was an easy read--a nice conversational style that isn't dry or boring to read. Terms were explained clearly and concisely, and plenty of clarifying examples were given.
This text is consistent, both in the way it is laid out and in the terminology that is used.
Each chapter's sections have multiple subheadings, making the information easy to digest in small chunks. Sections are not overly long.
This text is organized very well. It is written in such a way that one section flows logically into the next section, both within a chapter and between chapters. Each chapter is organized in the same way, making the text easier to navigate as students move through the text.
The only issue that I noted was that because of the placement of some figures, there were a few pages that had one or two lines of text on them, and then the rest of the page was white space, before the figure would appear on the next page. I feel that the spacing could have been managed better to avoid the wasted space.
I found no grammatical or spelling errors.
Many of the examples were the old standards. It would be nice to see an example of a genetic mutation other than sickle cell anemia (the go-to example of all biology texts!), or at least a more in-depth discussion about how different ethnic groups have different probabilities of certain genetic disorders. Otherwise, the examples seemed to be adequately diverse. There is a great discussion of the value of science in chapter 1.
There are lots of figures--not always the most sophisticated diagrams but they are functional and easy to read. There are also links to animations, simulations, and videos, so that students can engage with the material in more ways than just reading it. The authors also included attention-grabbing boxes titled "careers in action", "evolution in action", etc., to give more real-world context to the concepts being covered. Overall, this text is as good, if not better, than the one I am currently using to teach my course. It would be suitable for any non-majors biology course.
This text covers all the material that is generally covered in a non-major's biology course. It is broken down into six units: (1) Cellular read more
This text covers all the material that is generally covered in a non-major's biology course. It is broken down into six units: (1) Cellular Foundation of Life, (2) Cell Division and Genetics, (3) Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, (4) Evolution and Diversity of Life, (5) Animal Structure and Function, and (6) Ecology. Each unit has several chapters covering the major concepts within. It has a clickable Table of Contents that is very user friendly and quickly moves readers through the text to their desired location without scrolling. There is also a Glossary provided at the end of each chapter with key terms as well as a document containing the Glossary entries for all chapters a separate document that students can download.
As far as I can tell, content in the text is accurate and unbiased.
The content in the text is current. There are a few pictures that do not load every now-and-then, but there is alternative text provided for each image so readers know what the image is supposed to show. There are several links provided throughout the text to outside activities and resources, and the ones that I have tried have all been working links. Biology content is pretty well-understood, so the text exhibits longevity. The biotechnology chapter introduces different technologies and how they work without getting too specific in a way that it may become quickly outdated. Again, this is a non-major's text, so the molecular technologies content is brief.
The language used in the text is appropriate and easy to read. There are Glossaries provided at the end of each chapter with key terms and definitions. Terms are clearly described in the text as well as in the Glossary. Verbiage is appropriate for college students who are not science majors. Examples are often given to clarify a definition or concept.
Terminology is consistent throughout the text. All sections within chapters follow the same format with text and figures, links to outside activities and/or resources, and review questions with answers. Every section has the same general look and flow.
The text is VERY easy to divide into smaller sections for assigned readings as each section has its own web address. Links for each section can be posted for students. Once at any of the sections of the book, students can access the Contents at the top of the page to migrate to any other section of the book. Additionally, most of the sections have downloadable PDF files of just that section that can be easily disseminated to students.
The units, chapters, and sections are organized similar to all publisher-created biology texts I have seen and used. I feel the content, often images, in each section, however, can be a little haphazard. For the most part each section flows in a logical, clear fashion, but every now-and-then a topic is discussed that is at a much deeper level then needed for a non-major's course, which may discourage students who are trying to understand a topic they have little knowledge or motivation to learn.
The text interface does not have any navigation problems that I am aware of. All links that I have tried work, navigation between sections works well and is easy to understand, and all images (only a couple did not load) and graphs are clear and non-distorted. The sides of the text are free from distractions.
No grammatical errors that I am aware of.
The text is not culturally insensitive. The examples use non-human organisms.
This is an excellent text to use for a non-major's biology course. It has many options for you to incorporate in your course including additional resources from other sites. It also has pre-made PowerPoint presentations for each chapter. The presentations contain all of the images from the chapter and can easily be edited to fit your needs.
Overall, this textbook offers a nice balance between the different topics and explains very complex biological phenomena in a comprehensive, yet not read more
Overall, this textbook offers a nice balance between the different topics and explains very complex biological phenomena in a comprehensive, yet not intimidating manner for non-biology majors. The textbook is well designed for students with limited biology background. The book is well organized and the table of contents is through to allow students to quickly view the topics covered. The key terms and review questions at the end of each chapter are excellent. Students also have access to the answers to the review questions; however, these answers are a bit difficult to read in the paragraph format and should be organized as a list. The “Concepts in Action” links were also very helpful to reinforce the material and prove additional information. The “Career in Action” section is a very nice addition to place the content into perspective and enlighten the target audience about the different types of careers that are available.
Overall, the text is accurate. There are many areas throughout the textbook were the authors appear to have sacrificed some accuracy or omitted information for brevity. These omissions were likely an attempt to improve the “readability” of the text for the target audience of non-major biology students. In many cases, this issue could be resolved though modifications to the text. For example, defining technical terms prior to first use, adding additional introductory/background information prior to introducing a complex topic, and taking care to use the simplest, most accurate language possible would reduce some of the potential confusion. In several cases, the figures shown do not accurately reflect the material being presented and appear to be simply “filler” images. When figures are shown, the authors should be sure to include enough information in the text to assist students in putting the figure into context and relating the figure to the text. It would be advisable to select images that better reflect the content of the chapter, rather than simply adding figures for the sake of having a graphic in the Chapter.
The textbook contains current information and up-dated material. As with any science textbook, periodic revisions will be necessary for many of the units. The condensed nature of the material will may reduce the relevance/longevity over time as major paradigms change some of the foundational concepts. But, this argument could be made for any science textbook.
The writing is well done, with minimal jargon. When jargon is used, it is well defined and the meaning is clear. The material is presented in an engaging manner and should hold the students attention. I did notice that the level of details seems to fluctuate from chapter to chapter with some chapters more detailed than others. This is a common occurrence with multi-contributor projects.
The textbook is quite consistent from Chapter-to-Chapter. In general, the terminology and nomenclature is consistent throughout the book.
The format of the Textbook is highly modular. Each Unit/Chapter could stand alone is independent from the textbook as a whole.
The textbook is well organized and flows in a logical manner. The unit and chapter breakdown was very well done and organized appropriately. There appears to be an excess amount of empty space in many of the chapters that significantly disrupts the flow of the material and was a bit distracting. This may be associated with the figure format, but should be corrected. In many cases, I was not sure if I was at the end of the Chapter or if some part of the text was omitted.
The interfaces were either excellent of dismal. The bar codes linking to the various “Concepts in Action” were fantastic and an excellent addition to the textbook to add additional information. Likewise, the inclusion of the Chapter Summaries were highly beneficial. The Review Questions and Critical Thinking questions were excellent and very useful to reinforce the content. However, the “Art Connection” figures, in general, were very low resolution and many appeared blurry and difficult to read. The coloration of these figures should also be improved for contrast. At the end of the Chapter, the Art Concept questions were too basic and were not thought provoking.
I did identify a few minor grammatical errors, but overall the writing and copy editing are well done. The only issues I noted were minor punctuation issues and a few awkward uses of brackets.
No cultural issues were noted in the textbook.
Overall, this is a well assembled textbook that would be highly appropriate for an introductory biology course for non-majors. There are a few issues with image resolution and the authors have sacrificed some accuracy for the sake of brevity. But, this was only a minor concern.
Concepts of Biology is comprehensive in its scope for an introductory biology textbook with topics ranging from molecules to ecosystems. The textbook read more
Concepts of Biology is comprehensive in its scope for an introductory biology textbook with topics ranging from molecules to ecosystems. The textbook content progress from a discussion of the molecular and cellular building blocks of life, including a comprehensive discussion of cell structure and function. Current applications are addressed in the section on biotechnology. The topic of evolution is followed by a discussion on biodiversity and ecology. Anatomy and physiology of animals is also included. The sequence of topics is comparable to most general/introductory biology textbooks. The brief summaries provided for key topics can be beneficial in keeping students focused on the main ideas and themes (and each section in the textbook includes a glossary and embedded questions to check understanding). Some sections could be expanded, though, including the section on regulation of gene expression. This section includes a brief comparison of prokaryotic and eukaryotic mechanisms for regulating gene expression but could be expanded to include more comprehensive examples.
I found the content to be accurate, including figures and did not notice an bias in writing or topic coverage.
The content in the textbook is up-to-date. The section on biotechnology, for example, contains a number of examples of applications of recombinant DNA technologies. This is a section that will require updating as technologies progress, but such changes would be easy to implement within the current infrastructure of the textbook.
I do find that the writing is brief and in many sections that is fine and would actually help students focus on key ideas and themes. Overall I would say that the brevity may require instructors to supplement with additional readings (depending on the scope and nature of their individual courses). The content is adequate and consistent. The use of glossaries and questions to help readers gauge understanding are present for each section and questions often accompany figures. Recurring sections such as ‘Evolution in Action’ help tie core themes throughout the textbook and relate the content to current topics in science.
I found the framework and terminology to be consistent. The use of recurring sections ('Evolution in Action', 'Career in Action', and 'Biology in Action') was consistent and engaging for readers. I appreciated the consistent use of glossaries for each section and the addition of questions to help readers gauge their comprehension.
The textbook is well organized. Each major module is broken down into a number of sub-topics. The navigation using the online version of the textbook was nice as each major module breaks down into links for the various sub-topics. You can navigate by clicking 'next' after reading a section or by selecting individual sub-topics. I would find this useful as an instructor when assigning readings to my students.
The organization and flow is comparable to most introductory biology textbooks. The sequence of information is logical starting with a discussion of chemistry and cells and a discussion of evolution that sets the stage for an exploration of biodiversity and ecology.
I found navigation to be user friendly. I did find images difficult to view in the PDF version, but the online version of the textbook had clear images and was easy to navigate.
I didn't notice any major grammatical errors.
I did not find the textbook to be insensitive or offensive.
I enjoyed the format and content of the textbook and would highly consider adopting the textbook for use. I may supplement with additional readings but I do that routinely when using traditional paper versions of introductory biology textbooks. I feel that this textbook is equivalent to many of the books I have used and that it would fit the needs of instructors and students in an introductory biology class.
A non-majors, shorter text cannot comprehensively cover all biology concepts. The book includes all topics covered in my non-majors course although read more
A non-majors, shorter text cannot comprehensively cover all biology concepts. The book includes all topics covered in my non-majors course although supplementation may be needed (scientific method, human evolution, phylogenetic trees/cladograms, circulatory system musculo-skeletal system). The text had key terms defined at the end of each chapter only; there was no glossary. An index was present.
Content was written accurately although the instructor using the text may need to extend definitions of terms to make them more comprehensive within a single sentence.
Finding topics and terms is straightforward so updating should be efficient. Updates will need to occur since biology knowledge is always growing. Careers related to biology and examples related to life are easy to find using separate boxes or headings.
Explanations sometimes use additional vocabulary that is not defined and may be difficult for a non-majors student. Terms are often defined throughout a paragraph; the one-sentence definition of the term is sometimes missing key pieces of the definition that are usually present later in the paragraph.
The same terms are repeated and applied throughout the relevant chapters and sections of the text. The framework is consistent since text, figures, links to careers, and everyday applications to life are spread throughout each chapter.
The subheadings are appropriate for the amount of text underneath. The text could easily be assigned by chapter or chapter and highest-level subheading. Chapter outlines should include many levels of subheadings so the students and instructor can find or assign smaller sections of text.
The text uses a traditional flow of topics found in biology texts and courses.
Good. Navigation problems and distracting features were not present in the PDF and online versions.
Grammar is adequate.
Offensive text was not found during the review. The examples presented in the text include biology careers, diseases, and the importance of concepts to humans in general. Students may encounter a few of these situations during their lives, making those few situations culturally relevant to students. The text does not specifically use different cultures, races, and backgrounds in examples. Without the perspective of a variety of non-majors biology students, cultural relevance is difficult to gauge.
I think for the most part the textbook is complete. There are handful of times where I think additional information could be added to supplement the read more
I think for the most part the textbook is complete. There are handful of times where I think additional information could be added to supplement the content and make it more relevant for non-majors. For instance, the chapters on body systems could include additional information on diseases and disorders. There are numerous times when I think the textbook may be too comprehensive for a non-majors introductory biology course. The textbook provides an effective glossary both at the end of each chapter in the form of key terms at and the end of the textbook. The textbook also provides objectives and practice questions for students to use. Typically, the introduction to the chapters help to explain the overall purpose of the chapter or why certain information is being included or why it is important. The textbook contains more information than can be effectively covered in a semester and more depth in areas than I would go into, however that helps to provide flexibility for instructors since the content is there if certain instructors want to delve into content.
While reviewing this textbook, I did not come across any information that was not accurate, contained errors or was biased.
Although, I do not think the textbook is currently out of date but I think the book could become out of date more quickly than other texts. The textbook does not contain as much “cutting-edge” or new innovations in the fields presented as other textbooks. I am not in a position to comment on how easily or difficult it will be to make changes or updates. Aside from content, the images in the textbook already appear to be older than and not as updated as those in other textbooks.
The text is lucid and at an appropriate reading level. I think the chapters would be easy to read and approachable for students based on the prose. The beginning of the chapters provides effective explanations of why topics are being discussed and the importance of learning the topics. The technical terminology can be overwhelming and unnecessary for a non-major introductory biology textbook. The only reading difficulty I can foresee for students deals with the heaviness of terms. This is also related to the comprehensiveness of the textbook. I think it is possible sometimes that in an effort to be comprehensive and include relevant information we sometimes lose clarity.
I did not find any errors in internal consistency in terms of terminology and framework.
In some instances I think that certain chapters and sub-units should be included in a different order than what is presented. I think for some sub-units, depending on how you appropriate your course, it may be difficult or disruptive for students while reading the material since the instructor may want to include only portions of content from multiple sub-units or chapters.
My comments on modularity are related to the organization/structure/flow. There were a handful of times when I did not think the organization or flow of the units/chapters seemed appropriate. However, that can be true with all textbooks and the text does still provide the opportunity for the instructor to be flexible in what is included during the course.
The text for me is free of significant interface issues. I didn’t find any significant navigation problems, distortion of images/charts or any display features that would distract or confuse the reader.
I did not find any significant grammatical errors.
I did not find any text that was culturally insensitive or offensive however, I think that text could be more inclusive.
Before reviewing the book I would like to make the following comments. After teaching Introductory Biology for 15 years, having created many course read more
Before reviewing the book I would like to make the following comments. After teaching Introductory Biology for 15 years, having created many course notes and PowerPoint presentations based on the 3 textbooks used over the years plus many other biology related books, articles from scientific journals and news papers, I wondered if a textbook for my course was still necessary. Wouldn't the notes and PowerPoints that I posted in the course’s website, be enough? They do contain everything I want to teach my students. They also contain much of what I want to introduce to those students who are interested in more than the mandatory material, many of whom are interested in becoming a major in Biology. What has stopped me from abandoning the textbook is the somewhat haphazard way my notes are written and organized. If time were available I would organize my notes and PowerPoint presentations into a nicely flowing text presented in a logical sequence of topics. In other words, write my own book for Introductory Biology, containing the topics that I think are of importance and presented at a level of understanding that will match the needs of my students. A book that would be available for free to my students, the same way that my notes and PowerPoints are. The appearance of open source textbooks may eliminate the necessity of organizing my own notes into a complete text. An open source textbook would still allow me to base my lectures and other class activities on my own notes, which often are brief explanations of key terms and summaries of concepts, while at the same time offering my students a complete text. in book format. My participation in this workshop was based on the following question. Is there an open source textbook that covers the topics of my course and that will be good enough for my student to fall back on? I decided to pick Concepts of Biology to find an answer to that question. I soon started to incorporate parts of another book, Biology, as I was looking for answers to questions left by the Concepts book. The Concepts of Biology is aimed at non-majors, while Biology is aimed at the biology majors.Both books are OpenStax College publications. My review of the books was in particular aimed at the chapters of both books that I cover in my course. For Concepts of Biology I did review all chapters. Now Comprehensiveness. Concepts of Biology is designed for a single-semester introduction to biology course for non-science majors. The book has about 600 pages of text split over 6 Units, which cover the basic topics one can find in many biology textbooks. Unit 1: Cellular Foundation of Life (chemistry, cells, respiration and photosynthesis) Unit 2: Cell Division and Genetics (cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis, Mendel) Unit 3: Molecular Bioloy and Biotechnology (DNA, Central Dogma, biotech) Unit 4: Evolution and Diversity of Life (mechanisms of evolution, phylogeny, diversity of bacteria, fungi, protists, plants and animals) Unit 5: Animal Structure and Function (contents actually cover human biology: anatomy, physiology, diseases and immunity, reproduction and development) Unit 6: Ecology (population and community ecology, ecosystems, biosphere, conservation biology) The amount of material covered by this book is in my opinion too much for non-major students to comprehend in one semester. The modularity of the text allows to chose those chapters needed for a specific course. The units can be used on their own. My course has an emphasis on Genetics, Evolution, and Diversity of Life (with some physiology and ecology thrown in when appropriate). My review will focus on those units in more detail. Here first some remarks on the Units not used in my course. Unit 1 is well written, in a matter of fact way, to the point. The illustrations in the text are clear and supportive. Topics that are treated are the ones one would find in any biology book. I am always amazed at the amount of terminology and concepts students are supposed to comprehend in a short amount of time. The book does a nice job in explaining many of them (examples are the illustrations on the workings on enzymes, catabolic and anabolic pathways), but still, then there is suddenly something like NADH, without introduction. There is something of a catch 22 in studying biology (and maybe any discipline): one cannot fully comprehend most topics in biology until one has studied it all. Where does one start? Unit 5 is named Animal Structure and Function. I consider myself a Plant biologist and was somewhat disturbed by the idea that an intro to bio book has an entire unit dedicated to animal biology and not one to plant biology. This concern, a lack of attention to plants in biology, is shared by the entire plant biology community. This feeling disappeared after I read this Unit. The unit is misnamed. It is all about humans. A better title would be: Human Biology. A unit like this in an introductory class can be justified as many non-majors might be particularly interested in the workings of their own body. This unit plus units 1, 2, and 3 would work well in a Human Biology course. The text is written in a straightforward matter of fact way as well (by a health specialist?). A part is dedicated to viruses and the diseases they cause in humans. It is the only part in which viruses are discussed in the book (they are absent in the unit of life's diversity, Unit 4). Unit 6 is on Ecology. This unit is an excellent introduction to principle concepts of ecology; ecosystems and its components and processes ; and conservation biology. The illustrations are up-to-date. This unit would work well in an Environmental Science course to introduce students to the principles of ecology and conservation. More detail on Units 2, 3 and 4: Chapter 6: Reproduction at the cellular level. The chapter discusses chromosome terminology, the cell cycle, mitosis, cell division in bacteria, oncogenes and tumor suppression genes. Several terms are used but not introduced: centromere, centrosomes, centrioles, mitotic spindle, microtubules. The Evolution in Action of this chapter goes into detail on the structure of the mitotic spindle. This part will be hard to understand for non-majors. I decided to check the OpenStax Biology for majors textbook to see how that handled the terms not introduced in the Concepts to Biology book. A step I was to take for all the chapters of these units that follow. Chapter 10 of Biology does explain the terms centromere and others missing in Concepts.The explanations of the workings of regulatory molecules like cyclin, would go too far for non-majors. I can tell them to skip those paragraphs. Chapter 7 has a nice introduction to reproduction before continuing with meiosis and all its aspects. Mutations are discussed. Chapter 11 of Biology for majors discusses meiosis in a somewhat similar fashion, but treats meiotic errors in a separate chapter, Biology Chapter 13. Chapter 8 of Concepts discusses Mendel's life and Mendelian genetics: monohybrid and dihybrid crosses, plus some exceptions to the rules. Chapter 12 of Biology for majors does the same but includes some extras about the basics of probability and the forked line method for trihybrid crosses. These topics are not discussed in my Intro course. Chapter 13 of Biology gives some nice examples of inherited disorders in humans plus nondisjunction and mutations. These topics are discussed in my Intro course. I would need to add those topics because they are lacking in chapter 8 of the Concepts book. Instead of Chapter 8 of Concepts, I could use chapters 12 and 13 of Biology and skip the paragraphs that go into too much detail for my students. Chapter 9 of Concepts: Molecular Biology. This chapter covers both the structure of DNA and the Central Dogma. The chapter does refer to the 3' and 5' ends of the DNA strands. What is missing is an emphasis on Rosalind Franklin's work, good illustration to sho
Most of the content seems accurate. I discovered a few mistakes. See Comprehensiveness.
Most of the text will be relevant for some time. Updates might be needed within a few years on the systematics of protists Some evo-devo content will be needed soon.
In general the text is written in a way that most students will understand. At times, terms appear in the text without introduction, for instance the centromere; centrosomes; centrioles; the mitotic spindle and microtubules (in chapter 6). Their role in the cell cycle is hardly explained as well. A few other inaccuracies are mentioned in my Comprehensiveness part.
The text is internally consistent. The writing styles suggest that different authors were used for the different units. Units 1, 5 and 6 are written in a more matter-of-fact way than the other ones.
The modularity is good. At times a self-reference would be advisable, in particular when not the entire text is used in a course. Example: microtubules are mentioned in chapter 6 but there is no explanation on what they are. Reference to chapter 3 would have helped.
In general the text is presented in a logical order. A difference in the order in which topics are discussed can be a mater of taste. By reading chapters from both Concepts in Biology and Biology (for majors), I noticed that both books follow different orders of topics on a regular basis. The order in lectures might be different again each semester. I did not have problems with the organization. One exception: viruses should be part of chapter 13 too.
I did not encounter any problems with the interface.
I did not find grammatical errors.
The text is not offensive in any way.
I started the review of this book Concepts in Biology to determine if I could use it for my Intro to Biology course. My course has an emphasis on Genetics, Evolution and Diversity. Topics like Cell Biology, Physiology and Human Biology are parts of other courses in my school. I soon found that Concepts of Biology stays at the surface of many topics more than I do in my course. I started to include reviewing the comparable chapters of Biology (OpenStax, a book for biology majors). The majors book does treat many topics at a level I do in my non-majors course. At times it goes beyond of what I can expect from my non-major students. Still, I find the way relevant topics are treated in the majors book far more interesting than the short treatment in the Concepts book. It is at times difficult to find balance between what can be comprehended in a short amount of time and the limited pre-knowledge of students that do not major in the field. At the same time, more complex concepts are hard to understand without going into some detail. In those cases, it might be better to avoid those concepts altogether. I tend to go into detail in these cases, but avoid asking too complicated questions on them during exams. The dilemma posed on me by these two books is: use the non-majors book and include my own text where extra text is needed, or: use the majors book and eliminate text not needed. I will chose the majors book here. This book has more and nice illustrations as a bonus. I will evaluate that choice after the next semester. The Concepts book is a simplified version of many of the chapters of the majors book (it also does not cover all the topics of many other chapters of the majors book). One could argue if this approach, a non-majors course as a simplified version of a majors course, is the one we should follow. Several non-major books approach the topic of biology differently. They emphasize biological issues in society in biology for non-majors, such as health, biological conservation, the environment. They explain many biological processes like the cell cycle or physiology at a very superficial level. This has the danger of reducing a science course to a series of anecdotes, where a thorough introduction to the workings of science, with all its need for detail, should be preferred. Concepts of Biology is a short and simplified version of the Biology for majors. Both books have some nice features: selected topics are taken a step further in: Evolution in Action: evolution as we recognized it as happening right now. Career in Action: presentations of careers in the biological sciences. Biology in Action: biological concepts in everyday life. Art Connection: figures related to the text with questions to be answered by students to apply what they have learned. Nice discussion options for class. Concepts in Action: online activities and animations. I like these extras.
Concepts of Biology was written for non-major Biology students. The authors do an excellent job writing at an Introductory Biology level, for a very read more
Concepts of Biology was written for non-major Biology students. The authors do an excellent job writing at an Introductory Biology level, for a very broad audience. The Table of Contents is descriptive and the flow from one topic to the next is very intuitive and easy to navigate. Chapter Review questions are included at the bottom of each of the sections. The Review Questions not only quiz the students on the text, but also the graphs and tables included in the chapter. There is not a Glossary at the end of the book, however, the vocabulary words for each section are defined at the end of each of the chapters. The book also includes an Appendix, with a Periodic Table, Geologic Time Scales and Metric Conversion Chart.
The book is accurate and unbiased. The book is up to date and very well researched. There are virtually no errors. Figure 9.3 is a diagram of a DNA molecule. The DNA molecule should contain the sugar Deoxyribose, not Ribose.
The book was relevant and up to date. It will be several years, before the book needs to be updated. It should be fairly easy to add new information into this book. More interactive links would be helpful. Excellent Biology Concept in Action sections.
The book is clearly written, engaging, and very concise. Too concise in some areas. In Figure 8.6, it states that the Parents carried the recessive allele. It would be helpful for the reader to see the word heterozygous and to show the genotypes. Likewise, in Chapter 8, section 1 Mendel's Experiment, it would have been easier for the reader to understand the Pea Plant Experiment, if Punnett Squares would have been included, to show the P, F1, and F2 crosses. Technical terminology is in bold and defined. The Glossary at the end of the chapter provides a great recap of the vocabulary words. Many of the quiz questions at the end of the chapter test the reader on their understanding of the Technical Terminology used within the chapter.
The book is consistent in both terminology and framework. The book reads as though there is only one author, rather than 3. No difference in writing from one chapter/unit to the next.
The Chapters are short and extremely modular. Chapters and Sections are very well labeled and easy to find. You could easily assign students, individual sections/chapters from this book.
The chapters are well organized, follow the same structure and flow well. The order of the chapters, as well as the different units in the book are organized similar to other Biology textbooks.
I predominantly used the online version, which was very easy to navigate. The text, figures, and links were all very clear. I only briefly looked over the pdf version of the book.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
I did not notice that the book was culturally insensitive.
Concepts of Biology is a very good textbook. I plan to have students start reading sections/chapters next semester and I will seek their feedback, for future adoption in my non-majors Biology course.
The text has a wide breathe of coverage in the field of biology. The units in the book cover everything from cell biology, to ecology and many topics read more
The text has a wide breathe of coverage in the field of biology. The units in the book cover everything from cell biology, to ecology and many topics in between. It is likely that I was just too excited about the content, but I consistently found myself wishing that the book went into more detail. When I assigned some vocabulary assignments, the students in my class found that the glossary was comprehensive enough to allow them to complete most of the assignment without reading the chapter. The index was well put together and quite useful.
The major ideas and concepts in the book were accurate. After teaching through the entire text with my students, I did not find major conceptual errors. However, I did find multiple small errors (e.g. 37 deg F is the same as 37 deg C). There was no bias that I detected in the text.
The relevance of the book is quite high, as the "Career Application" sections help the students connect the content to the real world. The use of QR codes that link to web animations also allows this book to be highly connected, even if a student is using a printed version. Thankfully, this is an introductory level biology text, an the information present in it is not likely to drastically change over the next decade. If there does need to be an edit, sections each chapter is broken down into will allow for precise targeted edits to be made.
The clarity of the book was high at the expense of detail. The concepts that were in the book were covered in such a way that a lay person with about a 10th grade reading level should be easily able to comprehend the meanings. There was a vocabulary list at the end of each chapter which did an excellent job of highlight technical jargon that may have been confusing for my students.
The level of detail used in the terminology was consistent throughout the text. The units varied in the amount of content they covered, but that was to be expected considered how broad or relatively new specific fields are.
The text was exceedingly modular which was beneficial to my students that may have forgotten a key concept from the unit of cells when we were covering the unit on evolution. While the text did not self reference, it would take the time explain a key concepts. Each chapter was broken down into sections and subsections, which made it easy for be to give reading assignments to my students (e.g instead of micromanaging by giving them page numbers, I could tell them to, "read the section on meiosis".)
The organization of this biology book was both logical and clear. It mirrors the organization that is in all other biology texts I have reviewed in that it begins with the small scale, and ends with the large scale.
The figures that are included are referenced in the text, and also included stand alone captions. The figures themselves are not as visually appealing as the figures I have seen in more expensive texts, but anticipated that in light of the open source nature of the text.
I did not notice any grammar errors.
There was nothing in the text that I could interpret and insensitive to a specific people group.
On a whole, I thought this was a well done book with a fantastic price. With ever increasing cost barriers in higher education, I am very excited to have a legitimate and cost effective alternative to the traditional text. Many students in my classes find that traditional texts cost about half of what their tuition does, which has always struck me as an injustice. I have already recommended this text to my department and we are implementing it college wide.
The text covers the appropriate topics for a nonmajors biology course. The table of contents is through and includes a suitable list of topics to be read more
The text covers the appropriate topics for a nonmajors biology course. The table of contents is through and includes a suitable list of topics to be covered. There is a glossary at the end of each chapter which is a nice addition as students can access it more readily than if it were at the end of the text, the glossary for each chapter appears to be complete. Each chapter starts with chapter objectives which will help to focus students attention on the important concepts within each chapter. Each chapter also includes a summary and review questions for the chapter; all of which seem to be complete and appropriate. The index has multiple entries for many of the words within the text (i.e., tertiary consumer and Tertiary consumer) tertiary consumer should be listed once with all page numbers that the term can be found on.
Content appears to be accurate, error free and unbiased. There are some topics that are not covered in much detail while others are covered in great detail (Ch 4 and 5). Although this may be frustrating for some instructors, the book is essentially error free and is to be used as a guide. Individual instructors can provide additional details in areas where they feel the book is lacking and minimize areas where they feel the book has provided too much detail.
The content is up to date. The use of career in action and evolution in action boxes is relevant and provides recency to the information in the text. In addition, the use of these specialized areas will make it easier to update that information in the future. This is important especially in nonmajors biology as students sometimes struggle to see the relevance to their lives.
The text is presents information clearly and concisely while at the same time written in a student friendly language. The use of hyperlinked You Tube videos that are placed at the end of sections provides additional context and clarification of concepts discussed within the text. Diagrams are clear and well labeled making them easy to look at and understand which will help students to understand concepts presented in the reading.
The PDF version is very consistent. However, the online version and the PDF version do not align. The online version does not have page numbers included making it difficult to assign reading or look at diagrams in class. The diagrams are larger and cleared in the PDF version as compared to the online version of the text. I would like to see both versions look exactly the same to minimize confusion for students.
As long as student use the PDF or print versions of the text the content and diagrams/photos can be easily chunked and assigned. The online version of the text presents some challenges as there are no page numbers or clear markings for start and end of chapters.
The organization of the text is good as it mirrors most other nonmajors textbooks in the presentation and organization of topics. Topics can be used as presented in the table of contents or can be used as stand alone chapters or modules. In addition, the order of chapters can be rearranged as the instructor sees fit.
Again, the PDF version does not seem to have any interface issues. However, the online version has a number of interface issues. There are no page numbers in the online version of the text and the diagrams are quite small making them difficult to be clearly seen at time (i.e.. fig 3.6 looks great in the PDF version but is not nearly as clear and easy to read in the online version). In short, the PDF version is more appealing to the eye and easier to read than the online version.
No grammar errors were noted.
The textbook was not culturally insensitive or offensive. The use of examples is appropriate and inclusive.
There are some ancillary materials available. These currently include editable PPT slides (for instructors only), Wiley online learning homework assignments (this material is currently being pilot tested by some instructors) and SimBio which is an online lab simulation. The SimBio labs must be purchased separately (89.00 for 15 labs). The variety of topics for the SimBio labs is limited, according to my count, there are 12 lab activities addressing ecology/environmental science topics, 6 that cover cell biology, 1 on plants and 1 on action potentials in nerve cells. Overall, this could be a good moneysaving option for instructors and students in their nonmajors biology courses if it meets the needs of the instructor, student and the college.
I am using this book for a non-majors level introduction to biology course that is 1 semester long. This book covers everything I looked for in read more
I am using this book for a non-majors level introduction to biology course that is 1 semester long. This book covers everything I looked for in regards to content for the semester, and more. The bigger problem I had was cutting down to fit in a 1 semester course. The index is easy to use and each chapter has its own glossary.
Although I have found a couple small errors they have not been a problem and were already listed in the errata you can find with the book. I feel that the general content of the book is accurate and that the number of typo type errors so far is no different then what I have found textbooks from major publishers.
I was surprised to find that I have actually learned some relevant details in this book. Either new information or a new way of looking at something that I had not previously encountered. It seems to be up to date on current research and biotechnology. In this class I am looking to give the students a basic foundation of knowledge on things like cloning and genetic engineering so that after this class they can use that knowledge to help them understand news events and discoveries as they occur. The book has this information and provides a good background that is up to date but basic enough that it won't need major revisions all the time. I would foresee being able to continue to use this version of the book for more then a year or two, with some occasional updates as needed depending on what research advances are made.
Overall I think the book is clearly written. Occasionally I think it tries to put a bit too much detail into short paragraphs or short chapters and I am often telling students they may not need that specific term or section since they are struggling with just the basics. This is a common issue with all science textbooks and may be more of an issue of different instructors wanted to emphasize different details and thus the books need to include it all! I actually have taken ways of explaining or relating something from this text and found it helpful in my majors level biology class.
I have not had any issues with consistency. Chapter lay outs and content follows a set pattern (Art connection questions, glossary at end, chapter summary, chapter review questions, etc.).
I am doing this a lot with this text. Using just some sections of a chapter etc. It is working fairly well and can be done. The only problem I have with this is that in the printed text the introduction does not have a section number. So chapter 2, introduction. BUT in the web version of the book this is listed at chapter 2 -1 Introduction. The next section of the printed version is 2.1 but online is would be 2-2. I quickly found out I needed to use section names because some students had the printed version and others the web and they were getting confused. The web version also lists the contents by unit and not chapter and this can be a bit tricky for students at first as well.
I feel like each chapter and the chapter/unit orders overall are logical and the flow is good. No issues.
I have accessed the book on my phone, on a normal desktop computer, and I have a printed bound copy. The interfaces all have worked for me and charts, images, and links all work from all of these. The only problem is the numbering system not matching between the web version and the printed version as I discussed in the modularity section.
I have not see any grammatical errors that have stood out.
I have not found any issues here.
I appreciate the inclusion of the links to different animation and videos. You can use a QR scanner or type in a link if you have the printed book. Using the online book you can just click the link directly. These really have helped to bring this book to higher level for students. I also like the Art connection questions and end of chapter questions in general. Notes for instructors: This book has PowerPoint slides of the major figures from each chapter. I use these to then create my PowerPoint presentations and this works well. There are also learningpod.com quizzes that the student can take if they wish. Although I wish the learningpod had a larger question bank for them it is still useful. This book does not come with its own quiz or exam question back for instructors to use. That would be a great future addition. My students have been very happy with this book and the open source model. If you are unsure about it, I encourage you to give it a try!
The text is aimed at non majors biology students. It presents a full coverage of topics in biology appropriate for students that may not have a read more
The text is aimed at non majors biology students. It presents a full coverage of topics in biology appropriate for students that may not have a previous biology background. A table of contents is provided, key terms are defined at the end of each chapter, a comprehensive index is provided and an appendix is found at the end of the book. Review questions are found at the end of each chapter. Answers to review questions and "art connection" questions are also provided. The feature "Career in Action" is a nice addition for students who may not know what different biologists do for a living and what types of careers are available for biologists. Unit 5 covering "Animal Structure and Function" omits many useful details of organ and organ system structure and function.
The text is generally accurate. There are omissions and errors that may confuse students. In Fig.1.9 the current taxonomic hierarchy as presented may be confusing to non majors and can be replaced with a figure like the one shown in Fig 12.3. In Fig 1.10, it will not be immediately obvious what "mats" are with reference to Archaea."Extremophiles" are not defined before its use in Fig.1.10. On page 38, in addition to van der Waals interactions, hydrophobic and other types of electrostatic interactions should be discussed. On page 42, the statement; "The blood in your veins is slightly alkaline (pH = 7.4)." is found in the text but "blood" is not included in the figure of the pH scale in Fig 2.12. On page 50, no plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids are provided. Also, an introduction of lipids as a type of macromolecule is needed In order for students to understand the relationship between phospholipids and fats. On page 14, for an example of macromolecules, before they are discussed use proteins or carbohydrates instead of nucleic acids to make it easier for students to relate. In Fig 2.17 "hydrophobic lipids" is redundant. In Fig 2.23, explain that DNA strands are antiparallel. In section 3.2, the prokaryotes should be introduced as bacteria and archaea. On page 69, an illustration for the importance of villi as modifications of the plasma membrane is provided abruptly with an example of celiac disease, antibody production to gluten and the resulting damage to villi. Students may not understand the illustration since immunity has not been discussed by this point. In Fig 3.21, the diagram depicting osmosis is misleading due to the height of water shown at a higher level on the right side of the figure. The discussion on energy is very detailed for this level. Figure 9.10 is too complicated and should be replaced by a simpler diagram. In Fig 9.14, the diagram should show replication of DNA (DNA<->DNA->RNA->Protein). Fig 9.19 is misleading. Fig 12.9 is moved up against the "art connection" heading. In section 13.1 the characteristics of prokaryotes are discussed and extremophiles are mentioned but no examples are given and the types of environments that support extremophiles are not mentioned. There is no discussion of the archaea. In some figures, the material summarized or the organization of the figure does not convey what is discussed in the text. For example, Fig 13.6 needs to be replaced as the illustration does not clearly show the differences between the cell wall of gram positive and gram negative bacteria. In Fig 15. 4, the bilateral plane of symmetry on the goat cannot be discerned. In Fig 16.14, the figure does not depict the regulation of thyroid hormones clearly. Similarly, in Figs 15.17a and 15.19 the text of the figure legend does not adequately convey what is shown in the figures. In the chapter on the nervous system, the discussion of the peripheral and central nervous system is inadequate. The connection between the autonomic, somatic and sensory systems is not clear. This section will be confusing to the reader without a biology background. Fig 16.4 should show a complete presentation with all aspects of the peripheral system. Fig 17.8 uses histograms to depict the kinetics of an immune response. A graph showing the lag period followed by primary and secondary responses, with the increase in magnitude of the anamnestic response, is easier for students to understand. In section 19.2, discussion of animal behavior including animal altruism is not included in the chapter. On page 561, indicate that the phosphorus cycle is sedimentary. Discussion of epistasis is unclear. Similarly, discussion of the Hardy Weinberg equilibrium is unclear. In the discussion of eudicots, provide a brief explanation of the new name adoption from the older usage of dicots and provide examples of plants in this category. In the section discussing non placental and placental mammals, provide an explanation of the differences before discussing examples of animals in the two groups.
The text is relevant as new data is included in the sections on "Biology in Action". Unit 5 presents a very condensed coverage of organs and organ systems structure and function. Periodic revisions for this unit will be needed as much detail was left out of the text.
The writing is clear and engaging for students. The examples used are practical and students can easily relate to the examples. Jargon and technical terminology are used in proper context. In earlier chapters (4-10), the writing in some sections is more detailed and not easily "accessible" compared to other sections. A revision of the text should correct this. Having all the chapters in one file is a bit challenging when trying to refer to earlier chapters or access later chapters. The pages on the computer screen freeze and one has to close out and reopen the text.
There is internal consistency for terminology but not for accessibility.
Modularity is appropriate. Sections can be used independently.
Organization of content topics is appropriate for a general biology text for non majors. Chapters 1-15 are organized as individual chapters, each with sections. Chapters 16-18, are also organized into sections and placed under unit 5, Similarly, chapters 19-21 are divided into sections and placed in unit 6. Units 1-4 are not identified. The table of contents needs to be revised to indicate the organization of the first 15 chapters within the 4 units. There are many blank pages in the text and a lot of white space around figures.
The color contrast in many of the figures is distracting. The labeling is also difficult to read in many of the figures. In particular, many of the "art connection" figures are difficult to read. The font either has shadows, is blurry or the labels are crowded on the figure. Examples include Figs 3.7, 3.22, 4.15, 5.7, 6.4, 6.9, 7.2, 10.7, 11.7, 11.14, 12. 5, 12.9, 13.6, 13.12, 14.26, 14.27, 15.3, 15.24, 15.33, 16.2, 16.7, 16.9, 16.10, 15.5, 17.5, 17.6, 17.7, 17.8, 17.17, 18.12, 18.16, 18.17 and 19.11. In Fig 20.6, the interactions depicted in the food web are confusing. Labels are needed on the figure itself to help clarify the hierarchy on the web and to go along with the text of the figure legend.
There are no grammatical errors.
There are no offensive or insensitive materials in the text.
This is a text that can be used for a non majors biology course. A revision of the text will be useful in order to correct errors, add omitted material and provide figures that are clear and free from distortions and distractions. A revision will also take care of the writing style, making the writing more consistent and balanced throughout the text.
Table of Contents
Unit 1. The Cellular Foundation of Life
Unit 2. Cell Division and Genetics
Unit 3. Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Unit 4. Evolution and the Diversity of Life
Unit 5. Animal Structure and Function
Unit 6. Ecology
About the Book
Concepts of Biology is designed for the introductory biology course for nonmajors taught at most two- and four-year colleges. The scope, sequence, and level of the program are designed to match typical course syllabi in the market. Concepts of Biology includes interesting applications, features a rich art program, and conveys the major themes of biology.
OpenStax College has compiled many resources for faculty and students, from faculty-only content to interactive homework and study guides.
About the Contributors
Samantha Fowler, Clayton State University
Rebecca Roush, Sandhills Community College
James Wise, Hampton University