Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
Biology Department

Student Learning Goals

Below are the departmental learning goals mapped to College-wide goals for student learning.

The Department of Biology at Skidmore College offers instruction in diverse areas of biology. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students design programs of study to meet individual interests and goals.

Regardless of program, all students graduating with a degree in biology are capable of pursing advanced degrees and/or professional careers in the biological sciences, medical sciences, and related fields. These students can demonstrate competence with the modes of inquiry used by life scientists and mastery over the core knowledge domains that constitute the content of modern biology.

Content of modern biology:

  • Describe the central tenets of, and factual support for, Cell Theory, the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology, and the Theory of Evolution. (Ia, c; IIb, e; IIIc, d; IVa, d)
  • Recognize similarities and differences among major taxonomic groups and their biological significance. (Ia, c, e; IIIc, d; IVa, d)

Process of biological inquiry:

  • Utilize scientific methodology to investigate natural phenomena
    • Pose research questions and develop testable hypotheses. (Ia, c; IIa, e; IIIc, d; IVa, d)
    • Evaluate hypotheses using observational and experimental paradigms. (Ia, c; IIa, b, e; IVa, d)
    • Use quantitative reasoning to analyze research findings. (Ic; IIa, b, e; IVa, d)
    • Understand the larger scientific context. (Ia; IIa, b, e; IIIc, d; IVa, d)
    • Communicate conclusions to other scientists both in writing and through the oral presentation of the work (see specific competencies below).

Information Literacy:

  • Define the scope of their research questions/theses and determine the relevance of acquired information. (Ia, c; IIb, e; III c, d; IVa, b, d)
  • Access relevant published scientific literature and databases. (Ic; IIb; IIIc, d; IVb, d)
  • Assess the degree to which information has been critically reviewed prior to its dissemination. (Ia, c; IIa, b, e; III c, d; IVa, b, d)
  • Access, use, and cite information in ethical and appropriate fashions. (IIb, c, e; IIIa, c, d; IVa, b, d)

Written Communication:

  • Write about scientific observations and conclusions in the style and format of an experienced biologist. (Ia, c; IIa, c, e; IIIa, c; IVa, b)
  • Maintain properly written laboratory and/or field notebooks. (IIc; IVa, b)
  • Write formal laboratory reports in the format and style of a paper in a scholarly biology journal. (Ic; IIa, c, e; IIIc; IVa, b, d)

Oral Communication:

  • Organize material logically and provide effective transitions. (IIc, e; IIIc; IVa, b)
  • Use precise language that effectively supports the presentation and is appropriate to the audience. (Ia, c; IIc, e; IIIc; IVa, b)
  • Use delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, and vocal expressiveness) that are appropriate to the audience and make the presentation engaging. (IIc, e; IIIc; IVb)
  • Present a central message that is concise and convincing (precisely stated, appropriately emphasized, and evidence-based); Relevance of the central message is clearly stated. (Ia, c; IIb, c, e; IIIc; IVa, b, d)
  • Draw on knowledge to confidently field questions from the audience. (Ia, c; IIa, b, c, e; IIIc; IVa, b, d)

Technology Literacy:

  • Identify and use appropriate technology for inquiry at molecular, cellular, organismal and population levels. (Ia, c; IIa, e; IIIc, d; IVa, b)
  • Identify appropriate strategies to organize, store, and retrieve samples, data, or observations. (IIa, b; IVa, b)
  • Select appropriate software to summarize and/or draw inferences from data or observations. (IIa, b; IVa, b)

Visual Literacy:

  • Create, describe, and interpret figures and/or tables suitable for evaluating combinations of continuous and/or categorical phenomena. (IIa, b, c; IVa, b)
  • Use visuals in order to identify patterns, either for the visual articulation of hypothesis or to measure congruence between observed and predicted values. (IIa, b, c; IVa, b)
  • Use visuals for the purpose of communicating methodologies. (IIa, b, c; IVb)
  • Create visuals suitable for particular contexts, for example visuals appropriate for being accompanied by text, those accompanying an oral presentation, or those acting as an independent visual. (IIa, b, c, e; IVa, b, d)