James E. Cole

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Schults

Second Advisor

Dr. William VanDeventer

Third Advisor

Dr. Thane Robinson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Chapter I


The approach to teaching biology for general education is significant. In a course of this nature, the learning of biological principles should be of primary concern. It is hoped that such principles then will lend themselves to the understanding and use of the scientific approach to everyday happenings. To do this, however, requires that the teacher use the inductive method for developing an understanding of the principles, and the deductive method for applying them.

Planners of these basic biology courses attempt to define areas of real concern and interest to students. Having defined these areas, the planners then develop experiences which, they hope, wilt result in the student's insight into principles that are basic to an understanding of biology.

The purpose of this experimental laboratory unit is to develop a unit of study for a general education biology course on the subject of ecological succession, using the pond infusion culture as the illustrative material.

The phenomenon of succession embodies many principles, and these are apparent only as information is accumulated and organized. Many of these principles are mentioned in research done by Downing (1932), Washton (1952) and Martin (1948).

From the results of four studies done at the University of Chicago, Downing (1932:221-222) formulated a list of 28 principles of biology that are important for solving problems of everyday life. Of these 28, nineteen were listed as being subordinate principles, and nine as being major principles. Of these nine, the study of succession through the use of the pond infusion culture is concerned with the following three:

(1) All organisms must be adjusted to the environmental factors of the habitat in order to survive the struggle for existence.

(2) All life comes from previously existing life and reproduces its own kind.

(3) Food, oxygen, and certain optimal conditions of temperature, moisture, and light are essential to the life of most living things.