Mark Ainsworth, Ph.D.
Division of Science and Math
Office: SAM 310
Phone: (206) 934-4079


BIOL 160
BIOL 211
General Biology with Lab
Major's Cellular Biology

NOTE: all courses require students to use CANVAS to access on-line resources outside of class time

LINK to Seattle Central's Student HANDBOOK



Typical Annual Schedule


BIOL160 - General Biology (Non-Majors)

BIOL211 Cellular Molecular Biology (Majors)

BIOL160 - General Biology (Non-Majors)

BIOL211 Cellular Molecular Biology (Majors)

BIOL160 - General Biology (Non-Majors)


My Teaching Philosophy and Expectations

My overall goal is to provide experiences in a safe, open, (and hopefully fun), environment that maximizes relevant learning.  I emphasize analytical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills in this environment.

To do science well requires three things: knowledge, connections, and imagination.

  • KNOWLEDGE: This is information!  Facts, tid-bits, factoids, formulas, chemical structures, equations, etc. Knowledge is acquired from established sources (lectures, readings, video, etc.), observation, or experimentation.  
  • CONNECTIONS: The ability to make connections between different pieces of knowledge and build context is essential.  Context makes remembering pieces of knowledge so much easier because a story begins to develop.  The more knowledge you have the more connections you can make, the easier it is to gain more knowledge and make connections (i.e. build the context or story).
  • IMAGINATION: is the ability to mentally visualize things that you have not perceived yet.  Note I do not refer to things that are not real.  It takes imagination to establish new connections between pieces of knowledge.  It takes imagination to design experiments to gain new knowledge. It takes imagination to tell the story that knowledge-in-context creates, but more importantly it takes imagination to add new chapters to the story. Finally, imagination allows you to apply the knowledge and connections you make in the classroom to your world and life.

SCCC's College Wide Learning Outcomes:

Think: analyze, create, and reflect to address and appreciate challenges and opportunities
Collaborate: work effectively with others to learn, complete tasks, and pursue common goals.
Communicate: exchange ideas and information through intentional listening, speaking, signing, reading, writing, or presenting.
Apply Learning: solve real world problems using theoretical models, quantitative and qualitative techniques, information sources, and technology tools.
Continue Learning: self-evaluate and act to improve knowledge and skills.

Expectations of My Students:

  • I assume that students are IN A CLASS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO LEARN, and I expect their behavior to be aligned with this desire.
  • I can light a fire but I can’t keep it burning.   I try to provide a taste for science and for learning-in- general but I can’t force feed people.  I hope to open students’ eyes to the power and excitement of science and learning, with the hopes they will become better questioners and thinkers.
  • Reading is essential and supplemental to lecture.  I try not to lecture directly from the required reading, but expect students to have done the reading so they can understand and benefit from class/lab activities.  I provide additional optional readings as often as I can.  Students who read more have more context and undergo a far richer learning experience through the quarter – and the rest of their lives.
  • Trust me.  One mechanism for learning is to put students into situations that they have not seen before and ask them to observe how application of acquired knowledge and skills can help them.  This can be frustrating at times, but very rewarding as learning is cemented in place through the experience.
  • I am a believer that to excel in the current world and the future world, you must have some basal level of technological savvy.   I use the current LMS (Learning Management System) for my classes on which I post essential elements of the course, and I expect students to be able to view and interact with that system.  I try to minimize paper use by providing as much as I can in an e-format. 

BIOL 160: Course Catalog
Survey of basic biological concepts with emphasis on biological molecules, cell structures and processes; diversity, phylogeny and ecology of living organisms; and an exploration of molecular genetics. Satisfies the lab science requirement for the AA Degree

My BIOL160 Style:
I view BIOL160 as a course for people asking the question, "Do I want to study/major in Biology?" i.e. testing the waters of this discipline. I teach the course with a rigor that assumes that students are going to major in some science (e.g. I'm a physics major but want to know something about biology), or, if not majoring in science, want to challenge themselves to gain an equally functional understanding of biology. This is my view of the difference between BIOL160 (General Biology) and BIOL 100 (Survey of Biology)

BIOL 211: Course Catalog
Initial course of series, focusing on cellular biology: cell structure, organization, metabolism, energetics, the gene and molecular, chromosomal, Mendelian and microbial genetics.

My BIOL211 Style:
This is the first course in the Major's Biology Series (211, 212, 213) i.e. the beginning of a student's foundational course in biology. This course contains a significant amount of information and moves very quickly. It is an introduction to theory behind molecular and cellular biology techniques and approaches to asking questions on this level of biology. I run this course to start to teach you how to really think scientifically, how to ask good questions, and formulate solid hypotheses.



Last Updated: 06/23/2014