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Biology Through Inquiry

Student Inquiries in the BTI course

Student inquiries in the BTI course have focused on (from left to right), pollinator visitation to native and non-native plants (Rebecca Curland), effect of deadheading on flower growth (Lynne Venart), and investigation of the structure of mitosis in an onion root specimen (Rich Guthrie)

Course Description

This course explores fundamental topics in biology from a student-driven, inquiry-based perspective. Course topics include cell biology, plant biology, DNA and gene expression, evolution, diversity of life and classification, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Students conduct mini-inquiries throughout the course, helping to link core concepts to their everyday lives. Through collaborative discussions, students further their understanding of these key concepts and articulate relationships between biology and many of the major challenges currently facing humanity. Finally, students conduct their own biological investigation, developing skills in experimental design, data collection, and communication of findings. This is a Miami University online course that occurs in Dragonfly’s web-based learning community.

Course Themes and Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students in this course will:

  • Convey understandings and personal discoveries related to fundamental biological topics including photosynthesis, respiration, enzymes, cellular transport, carbon, nitrogen and water cycles
  • Devise and relate findings from mini-inquiries into core biological topics. For example, students might conduct a mini-inquiry comparing the structure of photovoltaic cells in solar panels to that of chloroplasts in leaves. To more fully understand the classification of life, students might create a phylogenic tree of the plant families represented in their backyard.
  • Design, conduct, and communicate findings from a community-based scientific study. Students will gain a firm understanding of the process and communication of science by conducting, analyzing, and presenting results from their own scientific study. 
  • Evaluate the critical relationships between biological concepts and major contemporary challenges to humanity including maintenance of global human health and well being, climate change, biodiversity loss, food security, and distribution of natural resources
  • Engage in reflective and evaluative peer review on the web to provide colleagues with personal insight, new perspectives or analyses, ideas for useful applications, and connections to other research and projects.

Learning Resources & Text

Several categories of readings and learning resources are provided, from book chapters and professional journals, to videos and multimedia interactives. All readings and links are posted in Dragonfly Workshop.

Students also are expected to find and share articles using the Miami University Library.


This graduate course is open to educators, professionals and community members from all disciplines and settings from traditional and informal teachers and school administrators to naturalists and professionals from both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Students taking this course may be master’s degree students in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) and Global Field Program (GFP). To enroll in this graduate course, students must have a bachelor’s degree and be 18 years or older.

Important reminder for graduate students in the Advanced Inquiry Program and Global Field Program: This course is an elective that, due to the specialized content matter, does not contribute toward your degree requirements. However, your grade in this course will affect your cumulative GPA and it does fulfill the biology requirement for the program. This is a 3-credit letter grade course.

How to Register

This course is offered each Summer Term, typically starting in mid-May and ending in mid-August. If you are interested in registering for this course as a non-degree-seeking student, please visit our Continuing Graduate Status (CGS) and How to Apply webpage for further information.