Learning Goals

Our overarching goal for educating our students majoring in Biological Sciences is to inspire them to want to discover and understand the natural world. In the process of achieving this goal, we expect our students to acquire not only facts and concepts but also skills and perspectives. It is hoped that our learning goals will both prepare our students for a variety of career objectives and to supply them with the tools to become life-long learners in the ever evolving world of biological sciences. Below is an outline of the skills and perspectives we believe are desirable for students graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences. 


  • Ability to observe and describe nature accurately
  • Ability to construct and critique logical arguments in biology
  • Ability to apply the scientific method, that is:
    1. Observe a problem
    2. Use inductive reasoning to develop a testable hypothesis
    3. Design an appropriate experimental protocol
    4. Collect data
    5. Use deductive reasoning to explain the outcome of the experiment and to make predictions
  • Ability to communicate ideas and arguments effectively both orally and in writing
  • Ability to collaborate by working effectively in a team
  • Ability to apply problem-solving to learning
  • Ability to apply quantitative reasoning to biological questions
  • Ability to evaluate information, especially that available on the internet


  • Appreciation that learning changes "how one thinks" as well as "what one knows"
  • Appreciation of the basic concepts in cognitive psychology that are fundamental to effective learning, including but not limited to:
    • self-motivated, curiosity-driven learning
    • learning by teaching others
    • collaborative learning
  • Ability to approach novel problems with flexibility, creativity, and confidence
  • Appreciation for the interconnectedness of knowledge
  • Appreciation for the diversity of living things and the diversity of approaches used to study them
  • Appreciation that the pursuit of science can be exciting and fulfilling
  • Appreciate that theories have changed over time, and that science is a process
  • Confidence in one's self as a university-trained Biological Scientist
  • Appreciation for the impact of biological science on the environment and society
  • Appreciate the ethical considerations of science and scientists, by understanding the societal influences under which scientists work and how science is used

The preceding skills and perspectives are inherent in one or more of the following learning goals:

Departmental Learning Goals

I. To acquire the appropriate factual and conceptual knowledge that provides students with a foundation to further their education and career in the areas of life science or health science. Students will be able to demonstrate basic knowledge (ex. identify, define, explain…) of the concepts, practices and principles that comprise the biological sciences.

II. To develop data analysis and statistical reasoning skills that prepares students for a society increasing reliant on the use of data and information. Students will be able to interpret/evaluate patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs as well as be able to organize, summarize and present data.

III. To develop the ability to use scientific reasoning as embodied by the structured process commonly known as the scientific method to empower students with the ability to generate and refine knowledge. Students will be able to evaluate and apply the practice of science.

IV. To develop critical thinking and problems solving skills appropriate to prepare students to evaluate, synthesize and generate knowledge that provides them with a competitive advantage to adapt to an evolving, global, and knowledge based society. Students will be able to demonstrate application of higher order thinking (ex. classify, diagnosis, evaluate, synthesize, hypothesize‚Ķ). Students will develop an understanding of not only the connections within biology but also the connections between biology and other scientific disciplines.