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Biology

Biology

Mission

The mission of the Biology Program is to provide a high-quality education to our students and to prepare our students to excel in a variety of careers.  We are committed to graduating students with strong skills in critical thinking, the scientific method and application of fundamental biological concepts, and who have gained practical skills through laboratory activities, internships, independent research and other high-impact experiences.

 

Objectives

Upon completion of the Biology Program, graduates will be able to:

  • Understand fundamental concepts in the discipline.
  • Write a lab report to communicate the findings of a scientific experiment.
  • Design an experiment to test a hypothesis.
  • Find and analyze primary literature in the field.
  • Demonstrate appropriate technical skills in the laboratory.
  • Analyze data with appropriate statistical analysis.

 

Information Literacy

A fundamental component of an undergraduate education is information literacy.  In general, a student with a Bachelor’s degree should be able to:

  • Effectively access necessary information though basic reading and research strategies, with emphasis on scholarly literature.
  • Select potential resources in a variety of formats (book, journal, website, etc.), understand the differences between scholarly (peer-reviewed) and popular sources, and evaluate sources for significance and reliability.
  • Interpret information from sources and effectively communicate information in new work.
  • Ethically use information in the creation of new work, e.g., by citing sources properly and avoiding plagiarism.

 

The Biology program stresses information literacy throughout the curriculum.  Information literacy skills are practiced at every level, and activities are designed to allow sequential development of these skills.  The ability to read scientific literature and incorporate the information into written work (e.g. lab reports) is an important skill in the sciences.  Focus is also placed on application of information found in academic literature to clinical practice, where applicable, particularly for students interested in medical and health-related fields. 

Information literacy begins with BIOL 101 Seminar for Entering Majors and BIOL 150 Introduction to Biology, which together require students to read and analyze scientific literature, and incorporate information from scientific literature into two lab reports. Next, biology students take BIOL 160 Introduction to Biology II: Organisms and BIOL 240 Genetics.  Lab reports in these courses require students to build upon previous skills in writing, data analysis and information literacy.

Practice of information literacy continues in upper-level courses. For example, every Biology major is required to take Biology Seminar (BIOL 330), in which students read scientific literature, present studies described in journal articles, and then discuss the material. Most biology courses at the 300- and 400-level are focused on a specific topic, and those with a laboratory component typically require lab reports.  By the 300-level students have had experience in information literacy and in writing lab reports.  Therefore, at this level students are expected to competently write a lab report with substantial use of scientific literature, including a literature review in the introduction and comparison of results to published findings and greater context in the discussion.