Copyright Year: 2015
Publisher: OpenStax CNX
Conditions of Use
Most body systems are covered sufficiently for a non-major’s biology class. However, the anatomy may need to be supplemented if using for a lab class (i.e. bone or muscle labeling/identification). A brief chapter on tissues would be helpful for... read more
Most body systems are covered sufficiently for a non-major’s biology class. However, the anatomy may need to be supplemented if using for a lab class (i.e. bone or muscle labeling/identification). A brief chapter on tissues would be helpful for understanding organs and systems. Although there are chapters on DNA and gene expression and meiosis, it does not have a chapter on human inheritance. A section (or chapter) on cancer with cell cycle would be helpful. It is also missing the integumentary system.
I did not find any errors or biases.
The content included is up-to-date. It could use more current examples to make the material more relevant to students. The modular nature of the text would allow it to be easily updated.
The text is easy to read. Technical terms are explained.
The text framework and organization are consistent from one chapter to the next.
The text is divided into short, logical sections that are easy to read.
Each chapter starts with an introduction, followed by short sections/units. Each section or subunit is divided into short subsections. Each section is followed by review questions and answers, a glossary of terms. Some sections have links to animations or videos.
The text is free of significant interface issues.
I didn’t find any grammatical errors.
I didn’t find anything culturally insensitive. Like most biology textbooks, this text could include more inclusive material. For example, highlighting contributions of diverse scientists or using more culturally diverse examples. This text did give some examples of diseases more common in different ethnic backgrounds.
This text would be appropriate for a one semester human biology or introductory A&P course. I would need to supplement materials for some topics and for lab use. It would be helpful if there were associated ancillary materials, like lecture presentations or access to figure files, study or testing materials.
I thought it was comprehensive. I teach Anatomy & Physiology and the textbook gets into enough detail for my Human Biology class. Personally, I would have liked to have more on diseases. read more
I thought it was comprehensive. I teach Anatomy & Physiology and the textbook gets into enough detail for my Human Biology class. Personally, I would have liked to have more on diseases.
I did not see any inaccuracies.
I like how that the author highlights the careers from the specific organ system. The information seemed pretty up-to-date.
I thought the textbook was really clear and simplistic. I believe it would be easy for a student to follow along.
All of the topics had same formatting and they were aligned. I did not see any issues with consistency.
I like that it is spaced out well. I like the bold words, pictures, videos, tables, etc. I believe a student could follow along and read it without difficulties. The Human Biology course that I teach mostly consists of non majors so that is my lens.
I like the way it is organized within the topics. I would move immune system up and reproductive to the end with nervous and special senses. I tend to do digestive and urinary together so I would have them by each other. In my current textbook, I have to jump around so that is not an issue for me.
I like the set up. It is great that you can click on the topic and go straight to the section. The images (pictures and tables) are good quality.
I did not see any errors. It is well-structured and easy to follow.
I did not see many references to difference cultures, but there were no offenses. There was a table on blood typing regarding ethnic groups and percentages. I am not going to rate lower because I do not see many cultural references in my current textbook either. I did like the everyday connections.
I really like that there were questions (multiple choice and short answer) with solutions inside of the text. You could make an assignment from these questions or use for active learning purposes. Also, all of the video links that I clicked on worked and they were very informative. I did not try to use the QR codes. I really liked that it was simple, clear, and aligned well. It seemed to be accessible and could be used with screen readers. I would verify with your institution.
I really liked that there were Art Connections (describes some of the more complex illustrations and concepts), Careers in Action (exactly what it sounds like), and there were some tutorials available. I do try to relate to everyday or real life and this textbook does do that. I may need to add a few more examples.
Ultimately, I really liked the OpenStax textbook and I would like to adopt it. I could use "as is" or maybe add in specific diseases for each organ system. Unfortunately, I use other resources with my textbook that I would still need to have. If you are able to collaborate with someone, you could make your own active learning assignments, assessments, etc. This could be a great option that is free for the student and you do not have to make changes when a new edition comes out.
Would like to see even a short section on human evolution. As well, I don't see coverage of integumentary system or development. Lymphatic system is with immune system, which is fine but perhaps change title for Ch 20 to "Immune System and... read more
Would like to see even a short section on human evolution. As well, I don't see coverage of integumentary system or development. Lymphatic system is with immune system, which is fine but perhaps change title for Ch 20 to "Immune System and Lymphatic System."
I found no errors or bias.
I believe the text is up-to-date and written in a way that prevents need for numerous updates.
The text is well-written, as or more understandable than the many other texts I've used.
I suggest incorporating a section on human evolution, perhaps with the introductory chapter. Also development with the Reproductive System. Endocrine System is the proper name for the "hormones" chapter. Also consider adding "Lymphatic System" to the title for Ch 20 ("Immune System and Lymphatic System"). As above, would also like to see a chapter on the Integumentary System.
See comments under the "Consistency" section.
Would like to see a short section on human evolution and humans' interconnections with other species. As well, I don't see coverage of integumentary system or development. Lymphatic system is with immune system, which is fine, but perhaps change title of Ch 20 to "Immune System and Lymphatic System." Ch 11 is titled "Hormones." Perhaps change that to "Endocrine System (Hormones)."
Found no problems with navigation or links.
I did not find any grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive, but I don't see examples that are inclusive of variety of races, ethnicities, gender identity (and genetics). A section on human evolution and/or inheritance/genetics could make the text more inclusive.
Are there more online interactive materials? Add development to "Reproductive Systems" unit? Page numbering needs updating -- e.g., TOC says Immune System starts on p. 401, while it actually starts on p. 409.
I found the book to be comprehensive over the topics normally covered in a one-semester human biology class for certain allied health majors such as medical assistant. This book could also serve as a "basic science" text for a science class that... read more
I found the book to be comprehensive over the topics normally covered in a one-semester human biology class for certain allied health majors such as medical assistant. This book could also serve as a "basic science" text for a science class that also on human biology.
The book covers basic introductory cell biology concepts such as metabolism, and cell division and then does a system-by-system discussion of the human body.
The book includes a glossary in each chapter and an overall index. I like that the index does topics by both page number as well as "module number" for those who use this book in modules, such as in an online environment. My only criticism of the index in this way is the modules are printed in the same line and font as the page number, making it somewhat harder to see the page number if that's what you're looking for. Perhaps a different font or bolding might help this.
One thing to note is this text is really a lecture-only text. If you need a text that can also be used for lab work such as labeling bones or muscles, for example, this text would not have the anatomical detail for that kind of use. You would need to supplement this book if you wished to use it in a lab-based setting.
I found the book accurate in most of the topics I looked at. Topics that most of us as teachers would likely cover are accurate in what they present and at the level this book targets. My reason for only giving it a three is partly because I didn't read every topic in depth, so I can't guarantee how accurate certain topics may be. Also, accuracy depends somewhat on the level of detail and discussion, and because that varies by chapter, it's hard to pinpoint how accurate a paragraph would be if the topic was elaborated on a bit more. Here's an example from the urinary system chapter: "GFR is regulated by multiple mechanisms and is an important indicator of kidney function." Is that accurate at face value? Yes. However, you could argue it's not a complete answer-- e.g., why is it important? Why mechanisms are there? -- and so it's a bit hard to qualify the overall accuracy if the statements are sometimes a big vague.
For this level of class, I don't think being "up-to-date" is necessarily the most critical of discussions. The basic physiology and anatomy of the human body presented here should be fine for most teachers in the foreseeable future. Any areas that might need adjustment over time, such as the genetics topics, can easily be changed out due to the modular nature of the book. The topics (chapters) are broken down into discrete modules so a teacher could alter or substitute a module to match current updates or to stress an aspect of that topic that isn't part of the current text. For my classes, I could see myself adding a module in the immunity section over allergies and tolerance and in the genetics section on epigenetics.
Writing in clear and most science jargon is reduced to a minimum. Examples and analogies are relevant to students and I enjoyed the writing regarding "real life" medical careers and equipment, such as what an AED is for and how it relates back to the heart section.
Detracting from the writing is detail level, inconsistent bolding of words, and references in the text that should either have a picture to illustrate what's being talked about. For example, in the vestibular module of the special senses unit, the semi-circular canals are the only bolded word. Why not otoliths or utricle and saccule? Also, while the action of the vestibular system is described quite well, there is not diagram or animation link to show how these structure work to provide balance. If I were a visual learner, a picture would really help me here.
As alluded to above, the book seems inconsistent in level of detail and the use of diagram. I understand this book was an amalgam of three different texts, so a little disjointedness is expected and visible in the text. Some modules are illustrated well and somewhat detailed while others have one image only over a two-page section. The sections dealing with cell biology (the first part) are more unified as a whole in format than the anatomy sections. The anatomy sections vary considerably. For example, the skeletal system module is quite good (at least for my class use). The reproductive system, by contrast, seem weak and lacks the images and clarity of the skeletal.
As stated in another review, there are differences in how things are referenced in the text and how words are chosen to bold (or not), and other subtle editing choices. Overall, though, I don't think a student would find each module distracting; just the overall book as a whole if one were to read it from cover-to-cover.
Each chapter and its modules are more-or-less self explanatory and can moved/edited/replaced without disturbing the overall book. For my class, I could see myself re-ordering the topics and having students still use the book well without having to go back-and-forth to reference ideas. The use of topic summaries, problem sets, and sub-topics is done in a way that enable modularity.
The topics are in a logical order and modules follow a structure of: overall purpose --> important anatomy --> function of that anatomy --> regulation of those organs --> applications & careers that relate.
I found this flow easy to use and students would find it fitting their expectations.
While I disagree somewhat on the placement of topics within the whole book--for example, I would skeletal system earlier in the book--I can't fault the choices made by the author. The modularity makes it possible to rearrange the topics if you found students who insist on "going in order."
Due to the mixture of different books as the source for this one, I did find the images and charts differed enough in topics to be noticeable. Some diagrams were entire pages while others were small. Some had narrative captions of (excessive) length while others were just labels. While it didn't confuse me in terms of what was being shown, it did cause me to pause and ask if the pictures were the right ones in the right place or if others could have been better choices.
No grammatical errors that were noticeable. There were some editorial choices (such as using abbreviations for some words but not others) that could be more consistent. In my copy, there were some format decisions (such as paragraph length, picture layout, and sentence structure) that, although not wrong, did seem to vary enough to notice the lack of pattern.
I didn't find anything to offend.
Overall, I liked the book and think it's a good choice for those of us teaching the "one-off" basic bio classes that are to be simpler than the majors' level of A&P but more inclusive than general biology. I especially enjoy this book's teaching of basic science concepts in the beginning for those classes of mine that require basic science skills in addition to human biology.
This textbook is organized primarily by systems and it covers all 11 in 20 chapters (even though the Table of Contents only lists 19). Five chapters are predominantly discipline- or topic-focused: Chapter 1 on the Scientific Method, Chapter 2 on... read more
This textbook is organized primarily by systems and it covers all 11 in 20 chapters (even though the Table of Contents only lists 19). Five chapters are predominantly discipline- or topic-focused: Chapter 1 on the Scientific Method, Chapter 2 on Chemistry and Life, Chapter 4 on DNA and Gene Expression, Chapter 6 on Energy Considerations, and Chapter 13 on Mitosis and Meiosis. Each chapter has a glossary but the book lacks an index.
Even though many topics generally considered to be encompassed in Human Biology are included here, the treatment of them is generally unintegrated into the larger contexts of evolutionary biology, ecology, human life cycle adaptation, and normal physiological adaptations. Areas that are left out of this text include:
Principles of Evolution chapter in which one would have desired to have a discussion of the important topic of individual variation in anatomy and physiology within populations, effects of natural selection, especially as related to health and disease, biogeography, and the origins of life and the human lineage;
Development and Aging is an area that is not treated in this book, including embryogenesis, placental structure and function, the human life cycle, life span, and congenital malformations;
Principles of Ecology are not touched upon here, including structure of human populations, effects of population growth, effects of air and water quality on human health, human land use and biology, and human effects of the loss of global biodiversity.
The topics that are covered can be uneven. For example, there are in-depth details given on the Scientific Method, on Myocardial Infarction, and in lengthy topic boxes on selected careers in health care, while many applications to contemporary research issues in Human Biology, normal heart innervation in physiological adaptation, and other career options that also draw upon Human Biology are not included.
The book is authoritative and strongest in biochemistry and cell biology. It is weaker on evolutionary theory. For example, in Chapter 2 the first Critical Thinking Question deals with "adaptation" (read "adaptability") in responding to olfactory cues in the context of smelling fire in a residence hall versus around a campfire, after an earlier definition of "adaptation" as a purely physical/biological evolved characteristic. Special Senses are not dealt with in the book until Chapter 18. A student would find this confusing.
Content is least accurate in the realm of Anatomy. There are a number of minor errors that are perhaps just more distracting than of major impact. However, these are most noticeable in:
Chapter 9 on the Heart where, for example, the legend to Figure 1 contradicts the figure by confusing the base of the heart with its apex; the three layers of the pericardium are misidentified; and the cardiac veins are misidentified as "coronary" veins (confusing them with coronary arteries).
Chapter 11 on the Respiratory System where, for example, the nasopharynx is incorrectly said to be flanked by the conchae (they flank the nasal cavity) and the laryngopharynx is said to conduct air (not unless one is swallowing air).
Chapter 15 on the Reproductive System notes that a lack of testosterone leads to scrotal tissue developing into "labia" when "labia majora" should have been specified to differentiate from labia-minora-homologous hypospadias.
Chapter 16 on the Skeletal System figures the "metaphysis" of long bones but leaves this important structure out of the text.
Most content covered is up-to-date. One exception was the use of the old term "solar plexus" in Chapter 18 in relation to the sympathetic nervous system, but the conceptual context is appropriate and the term can be readily corrected. The text does not deal as thoroughly with Genomics as one would like even though there are lengthy discussions of the traditional genetic topics of mitosis and meiosis and DNA replication. These sections could be revised to include more recent research findings, for example, on oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and homeobox genes.
In general the writing is clear, concise, and accessible. There is good use of analogy to get concepts across. I thought using ATP "dollars" to pay the cell's "energy bill" was effective. Difficult concepts such as acid-base balance in Chapter 3 and glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle in Chapter 7 were well done.
There is some confusion over the "levels of complexity" on which the text is based. Figure 1 in Chapter 1 shows 6 levels but in the text 10 levels are discussed. The reader is left to ponder whether subatomic particles or atoms are the starting point, where "organelles" fit in exactly, and is there a difference between the molecular level and macromolecular level. This problem could be addressed with a fuller discussion of how these levels historically evolved, as we now know more clearly from the molecular clock, astrobiology, and the genomic "Tree of Life" work.
There are minor technical issues with text consistency. The references to figures in the various chapters vary. Some chapters have only "figure" to designate call-outs while other chapters have numbered figures. In one case a chapter (Chapter 8) had "objectives. The other chapters did not. Some chapters had a summary of what a student would learn, roughly tantamount to objectives. Others did not. Questions at the end of chapters were usually "review" questions but some chapters had "critically thinking questions."
This book is quite modular in that the chapters can stand by themselves. The sequence that systems are taught in a particular course could readily use most chapters in a different arrangement.
There is a logic to the organization of organic levels in the text, particularly the initial chapters on molecules and cells which are clearly the simplest levels. The rationale of why the digestive system is the first system to be discussed (Chapter 5) is less obvious but each system is largely treated by itself so the sequence of systems was probably considered not of great concern. I was surprised somewhat to come upon a chapter on Mitosis and Meiosis (Chapter 13), at the the cellular level, in between chapters on the Urinary and Reproductive organ systems, until I realized there was a reproductive connection.
The text states that one of its goals is accessibility by students. The art in this text is quite clear, interpretable, and well done. However, there were significant problems with the QR coded links generally termed "Concepts in Action." Not all chapters had these but I checked out each one in the text and found several that did not load. Several loaded but had no content. This can be distracting.
I encountered no issues with grammar.
Although not technically "grammar," I noted a few typographical errors, the most obvious of which was "Antidiuretic Hormone" misspelled in section 13.3. It is also worth noting for correction in section 9.1 that "kardia" is Greek, not Latin.
There is nothing that I would consider culturally insensitive in the text.
This book would be most suited to a Biology Department course geared to premedical students because it tracks the traditional topics covered in the medical school curriculum. Some students, depending on their backgrounds, may struggle with the chemical, genetic, anatomical, and/or physiological material. An instructor using this textbook for a Human Biology class but desiring a more expansive biological purview that would encompass ev-devo, ecological, and genomic perspectives would have to provide this content on their own.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Human Biology and the Scientific Method
- Chapter 2: Chemistry and Life
- Chapter 3: Cells
- Chapter 4: DNA and Gene Expression
- Chapter 5: Digestive System
- Chapter 6: Energy Considerations
- Chapter 7: Blood
- Chapter 8: Heart
- Chapter 9: Blood Vessels
- Chapter 10: Respiratory System
- Chapter 11: Hormones
- Chapter 12: Urinary System
- Chapter 13: Mitosis and Meiosis
- Chapter 14: Reproductive Systems
- Chapter 15: Skeletal System
- Chapter 16: Muscles and Movement
- Chapter 17: Nervous System
- Chapter 18: Special Senses
- Chapter 19: Immune System
About the Book
This textbook has been created with several goals in mind: accessibility, customization, and student engagement—all while encouraging students toward high levels of academic scholarship. Students will find that this textbook offers a strong introduction to human biology in an accessible format.
About the Contributors
Samantha Fowler, Clayton State University Rebecca Roush, Sandhills Community College James Wise, Hampton University