Biological Sciences Assessment

Department Goals

  1. Programs within the department will prepare students for careers and/or graduate study in the biological sciences.
  2. The department will employ a combination of classroom, laboratory and fieldwork, student research and internships built around learning outcomes adopted by the department.
  3. The department will continue to improve the learning process through ongoing assessment and revision of courses and programs emphasizing both content and technical skills appropriate to the discipline.
  4. The department will develop collaboration with industry, state and federal agencies, other departments and institutions of learning to enrich the learning opportunities for students.
  5. The department will support faculty development including scholarly achievement, research, professional study and teaching effectiveness.
  6. The department will foster an environment of inclusiveness and diversity.

Student Learning Outcomes

April 2006

Undergraduate Programs

Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of:

  • scientific methodology and research and the scope and limitations of science diversity of living organisms
  • interactions of living organisms, including humans, with the environment evolutionary change and mechanism
  • role of biology in the geopolitical world of today and the future

Graduates will develop or gain and demonstrate the:

  • ability to apply scientific methodology (experimental, observational, comparative)

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to make appropriate inferences and deductions from biological information across the following content areas.
    1. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts relating to the complexity of biology.
      1. molecular interactions, signaling and control mechanisms
      2. evidence supporting the cell theory
      3. cellular organization and interactions
      4. physiological interactions among tissues
      5. organismal function based on structural, behavioral, physiological features
      6. ecological interactions
      7. evolutionary change and mechanisms
      8. definition and application of the scientific method and interpretation of scientific information
    2. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of the history and philosophy of biology.
      1. scientific explanations of the development of organisms through time (biological evolution)
      2. evidence supporting biogenesis and the germ theory of fermentation and infectious disease
      3. the collaborative efforts of scientists, past and present
      4. definition of scientific truth and procedures for defining scientific truth
      5. social uses of scientific information
      6. species concepts and debates
      7. the significance of human perception in the advancement of science
    3. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of the chemical nature of life.
      1. physical and chemical properties of water and its impact on life processes
      2. the structure and function of macromolecules
      3. the nature of enzymes
      4. the capture, storage, transformation, and flow of energy through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration.
    4. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of cell structure and function.
      1. characteristics, diversity, and evolution of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
      2. similarities between the activities of a single cell and a whole organism
      3. the cell membrane model (diffusion, osmosis, and active transport)
    5. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of life functions and evolution of archaebacteria, monerans organisms within the primary domains (prokaryotes and eukaryotes).
      1. how their structures and functions vary between and within the domains (biological homology)
      2. comparison of their metabolic activities
      3. analyses of their responses to the environment
      4. maintenance of homeostasis
      5. human health issues, human anatomy, body systems, and life functions
      6. how viruses compare with organisms
      7. resistance and immune mechanisms
      8. phylogenetic relationships of major lineages
    6. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of mechanisms of inheritance and protein synthesis.
      1. cell growth and division
      2. gamete formation
      3. cell specialization
      4. prediction of inheritance of traits based on the Mendelian laws of heredity
      5. development of the structural model of DNA
      6. genetic variation (mutation, recombination, deletions, additions to DNA)
      7. the structure, function, and replication of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA)
      8. events involved in the construction of proteins
      9. use, limitations, and misuse of genetic information
      10. exploration of the impact of DNA technologies
    7. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts for modern classification systems.
      1. origin of life
      2. structural similarities among organisms
      3. fossil record interpretation
      4. value and limitations of comparative anatomy
      5. examination of biochemical similarities and differences among organisms
      6. systems of classification that are adaptable to new scientific discoveries and value of comparative or contrasting classification systems
    8. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of population change over time.
      1. evidence found in fossil records
      2. life history characteristics of species
      3. how genetic variation, reproductive strategies (drift, migration, mutation) and environmental pressures impact the survival of populations
      4. how natural selection leads to adaptations
      5. emergence of new species and processes of extinction
      6. scientific explanations for biological evolution
      7. interactions (competition, predation, parasitism, mutualism)
    9. From biology and supporting courses within the major, students will demonstrate an understanding of key concepts of populations, communities, and ecosystems.
      1. abiotic and biotic effects on species distribution and abundance
      2. interactions within and among populations including carrying capacities, limiting factors, and growth curves
      3. nutrient cycling with energy flow through ecosystems (primary production, secondary production)
      4. succession patterns in communities
      5. structure and function of ecosystems
      6. the effects of natural events and human activities on ecosystems
  2. From biology and supporting courses within the major, student will demonstrate skills and the ability to generate a researchable question and develop a protocol to address it.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to collect, statistically analyze, interpret and display data.
  4. Students will demonstrate practical skills including safety procedures for the field or laboratory equipment.
  5. Students will select and critically use resources (literature, databases, journals, etc.) to evaluate current and emerging knowledge in the field.
  6. Students will demonstrate the ability to transmit data both orally and in writing.
  7. Students will demonstrate the ability to respond to hypothetical or real opportunities for employment, advanced study or other opportunities (e.g., summer research) in a manner that showcases the application of their academic background.

Graduate Programs

  • Graduates will be prepared to perform as professional biologists in a number of work settings (e.g., health care, government, business, education, research, etc.).
  • Graduates will be prepared for additional advanced study if they wish to continue beyond the Master's degree

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Graduate students will demonstrate content knowledge of the primary literature.
  2. Thesis option graduate students will design and implement a formal research proposal and project.
  3. Graduate students will analyze experimental and/or observational results and draw appropriate conclusions from laboratory or field experiences.
  4. Graduate students will present scientific content (e.g., graduate seminars, lectures, poster sessions).
  5. Thesis option graduate students will organize and write the results of original research consistent with requirements of current biological literature, and non-thesis graduate students will take an exit exam demonstrating knowledge of current biological literature.
  6. Graduate students will develop and demonstrate grant writing skills.

Master of Science - Teaching Emphasis:

  1. Grant writing is not a component of coursework for the degree.
  2. Graduate students in this area will demonstrate the ability to present scientific content in a classroom or in-service setting.
  3. Certain areas such as interview skills and job preparation are covered by activities within the College of Education.]

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