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Biological Sciences


Graduates will be able to:


1. apply the fundamentals of biological sciences including basic laboratory skills

2. demonstrate a basic understanding of scientific methods and their application to real world problems

3. exercise an awareness of the importance of the natural world to humanity

4. show an understanding of ethics and its role in developing sound, discipline-specific policies and practices

5. competently communicate in written and oral formats

6. organize data in a logical manner and objectively analyze data

7. independently study a biological problem, develop a method to solve the problem, analyze available problem data, and present the data to others in a cogent and concise manner

8. clearly elucidate the Darwinian theory of evolution and related concepts


Direct Measures


1. ETS® Major Field Test (MFT): Biology – an outcomes assessment designed to measure mastery of discipline-specific concepts and knowledge gained by students. It also provides a quantitative measure of students’ ability to analyze and solve problems, draw conclusions, and interpret data. Results may be used to: a) set specific curricular requirements; b) direct modifications of course content; and c) identify curricular strengths and weaknesses. The on-line exam was administered by the department three times (Fall, Winter, and Spring terms) during the 2005 – 2006 academic year. The expectation was that a majority of the students who took the exam would achieve a total scaled score of 140 or better (on a scale of 120 – 200) or a sub-score of 56 (on a scale of 20-100) or better in one of the four subfields of the discipline (i.e., cell biology, molecular biology and genetics, organismal biology, and population biology, evolution, and ecology) etc.). LEARNING OBJECTIVES addressed by this measure: 1 – 8.


2. Scores on National Standardized Examinations – Students who took national standardized examinations as a prerequisite to enter professional school (e.g., MCAT for medical, GRE for graduate school, etc) were asked to report their scores to the department. Data may be used to: a) establish discipline-specific curricular requirements; b) direct modifications of courses’ content; and c) identify curricular strengths and weaknesses. The expectation was that every student who took an exam would achieve a score at or above the national target score facilitating student admission to graduate or professional school. LEARNING OBJECTIVES addressed by this measure: 1, 2, 4 - 8.


3. Written and Oral Presentations – Students were evaluated on their skill in science writing as well as effective communication of research findings and experiential learning during podium presentations for capstone and research courses. Data from these graded activities may be used to assess: a) how well students transfer and/ or retain skill sets; b) the extent of skill development as students achieve advanced standing within a major; and c) to make curricular modifications. The expectation was that every student would demonstrate abilities at or above the “C” (70 %) level. LEARNING OBJECTIVES addressed by this measure: 1 – 8.


Indirect Measures


1. Surveys – All graduating seniors (Spring 2006) were asked to complete an on-line survey designed to capture information on perceived learning achievements. The expectation was that the majority of students would favorably evaluate their learning opportunities and provide substantive information that may be used to direct curricular design, content, and improve, adjust and extend pedagogical resources. LEARNING OBJECTIVES addressed by this measure: 3 and 5.


2. Student Achievements – The number of graduating students who are admitted to graduate or professional programs provides data that can to be used to validate curricular design, direct changes in courses’ content and emphasis, advance new course proposals, and justify programmatic initiatives. The expectation is that all students who apply are admitted. LEARNING OBJECTIVES addressed by this measure: 3 and 5.The SOPHOMORE REVIEW is the department’s way of assessing art majors’