Learning Goals

The Biology Department has defined the learning goals for Biology majors to include both the acquisition of core concepts, skills, and dispositions. These learning goals should not only prepare our students for a variety of career paths, but also provide them with the tools to be life-long learners in the rapidly evolving world of biological sciences. Below is an outline of the core concepts, skills, and dispositions we believe are desirable for students graduating with a degree in Biology. 

I. Core Concepts: 

  1. Demonstrate an understanding that all living organisms share a common ancestor and that populations and species evolve over time as allele frequencies change due to mutation, natural selection, gene flow, and genetic drift.

  2. Demonstrate an understanding that the structure of a molecule, cell, or organism impacts its function and that organisms have basic units of structure that are common to all living things and determine their form and function.

  3. Demonstrate an understanding that context-specific gene expression regulates the growth and behavior of organisms; that genetic information is replicated, transcribed,and translated, and that an organism's phenotype is controlled by its genotype and the environment.

  4. Demonstrate an understanding that biological systems grow and change due to chemical transformation pathways that are governed by the laws of thermodynamics and that energy captured by primary producers is necessary to support the maintenance, growth, and reproduction of all organisms.

  5. Demonstrate an understanding that biological molecules, genes, cells, tissues, organs, individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems interact to form complex systems; and that organisms have complex systems that integrate internal and external information, incorporate feedback control, and respond to changes in the environment.

  6. Explain the causes & consequences of anthropogenic climate change, including the impacts of abiotic changes on organisms, populations, and communities, and discuss the impacts of potential solutions.

II. Skills: 

  1. Apply the scientific method by generating questions and testable hypotheses, making formal observations, and designing and conducting experiments. 

  2. Use quantitative analysis and mathematical reasoning (statistics and mathematical modeling) to interpret biological data.

  3. Use modeling and simulation to understand complex systems.

  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between biology and society.

  5. Communicate persuasively and effectively orally.

  6. Communicate persuasively and effectively in writing. 

  7. Work effectively and collaboratively in groups, across perspectives.

  8. Develop information literacy and the ability to find, read and critically analyze scientific literature.

  9. Think critically through inquiry, problem solving, and synthesis.

III. Dispositions: 

  1. Value diverse perspectives in biology; identify how racism, bias, and exclusion impedes effective engagement and participation in science and society; and help to create inclusive learning and working environments.

  2. Develop the skills to become a life-long, self-directed learner.