Learning Outcomes for Majors

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Coursework in the Chemistry major is designed so that students will:

  • Recall, relate, synthesize, deploy knowledge, and solve problems in foundational areas of chemistry – analytical, biological, inorganic, organic and physical.
  • Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments.
  • Employ modern library search tools to locate and retrieve primary chemical literature on a topic. Critically evaluate the chemical literature and use the content of articles to inform classroom and laboratory work.
  • Design experiments, collect data, and interpret results so as to support or refute a hypothesis or research question.
  • Use computational methods to model chemical systems and use computers for data acquisition and processing. Use appropriate software for data analysis including graphing and basic statistics.
  • Communicate work to professional and general audiences in oral and written form in a manner that complies with accepted guidelines of scientific communication. Specific types of communication include written scientific reports, informal and formal oral presentations, and poster presentations.
  • Follow proper procedures and regulations for safe handling, use, and disposal of chemicals and practice safe laboratory procedures.
  • Maintain proper records of laboratory activities.
  • Work in teams in both the classroom and laboratory.
  • Practice science in an ethical and responsible manner.

Coursework in the Biochemistry major is designed so that students will:

Learn and integrate foundational material in Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry that is relevant to Biochemistry and prepares students for careers and post-baccalaureate education.

  • Compare and analyze experimental approaches/techniques and data analysis from the primary scientific literature in order to understand how new scientific knowledge is gained, how data are analyzed and how to evaluate the quality of an experimental design or the quality of the data obtained.
  • Use data analysis methods including graphing and statistical analysis.
  • Develop problem solving skills and analytical thinking skills.

The laboratory and research component of the Biochemistry major is designed so that students will:

  • Design and conduct experiments, using a broad variety of experimental techniques, and interpret the data obtained to draw conclusions about whether the results do or do not support a hypothesis being tested and whether the experimental design was appropriate.
  • Work collaboratively with other students and with faculty, understanding that most scientific knowledge/conclusions draw(s) on multiple sources of data and multiple experimental approaches.
  • Learn “best approaches” for conducting experiments including laboratory safety, data replication and quality control, record keeping, and other aspects of “responsible conduct of research”.
  • Gain familiarity with an area of science such that the students can present their work to a professional audience and also discuss their work with a general audience.
  • Develop problem solving skills and analytical thinking skills.

The scientific communication component of the Biochemistry major is designed so that students will:

  • Understand and practice the principles of oral scientific presentations (talks, posters). Communicate effectively with well-designed posters and slides in talks or poster presentations aimed at scientific audiences as well as the general public.
  • Develop the principles of good writing: Building the simplest possible words and sentences into concise, well-ordered arguments, using the paragraph as the basic unit of composition.
  • Become proficient in creating figures, graphs or other visual representations of data.
  • Describe biochemical and mathematical concepts in words. This includes being able to describe the interpretation of data and the conclusions drawn from an analysis of data. Drawing conclusions involves the construction of an argument based on an interpretation of data. When appropriate, evidence from the literature is often used to support the argument.
  • Learn the mechanics of writing a scientific paper or preparing an oral presenation. This includes learning how to communicate well with graphs, tables, diagrams and other visual materials.
  • Develop the skills needed to write about science for broader audiences: notably, policy makers and the public.