Program Goals & Outcomes

Program Goals

Biology majors are able to employ the components of the scientific method:  a) hypothesis formulation, b) experimental design, c) data analysis and d) communication of results.

Information Retrieval and Evaluation

  • Students learn how to retrieve information electronically and review background literature relevant to a biological question.
  • Students develop the ability to assess the value and appropriateness of different information sources.

Experimental Design and Data Analysis

  • Working independently and in teams, students learn how to design and conduct experiments to test hypotheses about living systems.
  • Students learn how to collect and analyze data using appropriate statistical methods.

Scientific Communication

  • Students learn how to communicate research results in formal scientific reports.
  • Students learn to appreciate the importance of networking between biological scientists and communication between scientists and the lay public.

Biology majors graduate with an understanding and appreciation of the connections between levels of organization from molecules to cells and from organism to ecosystem, within the framework of evolution.

The Organizational Hierarchy of Life

  • Using a diversity of experimental approaches, students investigate life processes at many different levels, from the molecular to the ecological.
  • In order to see the big picture, students learn to integrate information about all of these organizational levels into their understanding of biology.

Evolution: Biology's Unifying Theory

  • Students learn that the theory of evolution can explain both similarities and differences between organisms at each level of organization.
  • Through coursework and supervised research opportunities, students develop an appreciation for the relationship between mechanisms of evolution and biodiversity.

Biology majors graduate with the ability to thoughtfully communicate and integrate ideas in both oral and written form.

Presentation Skills

  • Frequent opportunities are provided for students to prepare and deliver professional-quality presentations on biological topics, in the context of specific courses as well as in forums for undergraduate research presentation.

Written Communication

  • Students are exposed to the diversity of written formats that are employed by scientists to record observations and insights.
  • Through a variety of in-class and out-of-class writing assignments, students develop the ability to construct logical arguments in their writing by integrating appropriate evidence.
  • Students learn how to prepare research reports using the format of peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Biology majors graduate with proficiency in standard laboratory techniques and computer applications.

Technical Skills

  • Microscopy
  • Biochemical Analyses
  • Recombinant DNA Techniques
  • Microbiological and Cell Culture Methods
  • Ecological Analyses
  • Physiological Measurement
  • Dissection
  • Field Research Methods

Computing Skills

  • Analytical and Statistical Software Packages
  • Web-Based Biology Search Engines
  • Public Domain Biological Databases

Biology majors are trained to work effectively in groups as both leaders and collaborators.

Scientific Investigations

  • Students work in groups to design, conduct,  and  report laboratory and field experiments.
  • Each student serves as a principal investigator for one group project.

Collaborative Research

  • Students have opportunities to conduct supervised research in collaboration with faculty mentors and peers at SHU.
  • Internships and fellowships in local pharma and biotech companies, research universities, museums, zoos, and conservation groups expose students to the larger scientific community.

Team Presentations

  • Students participate in internet-based class projects
  • Groups of students lead discussions about contemporary biology topics.
  • Student teams present critiques of the scientific literature to their peers. 

Community-Based Projects

  • Service-learning projects in some courses enable students to work in partnership with community groups to achieve environmental or educational goals.

Biology majors graduate with an appreciation of the complexity and ambiguity of ethical issues relevant to the acquisition, dissemination, and use of biological information.

Students ask questions and develop arguments regarding the legitimacy of biological research.

  • How and when should animal and human subjects be used in research?
  • What are the impacts of research on biodiversity and the environment?

Students learn how intellectual property is properly developed and transmitted.

  • How is academic integrity practiced?
  • Why are publications and peer review important?

Students become aware of the high cost of research and learn how its end-products are distributed nationally and globally.

  • How does grantsmanship support research?
  • What are the economic impacts of bioengineered drugs, seeds, and vaccines on the Third World?

Students confront the ethical dilemmas inherent in the development and application of biological information and its technological products.

  • What are the ethical implications of the human genome project, reproductive technologies, and genetically modified organisms?

The program in Biology encourages intellectual engagement leading to lifelong learning.

Biology is a discovery process that is constantly being refined, redirected, and expanded.

  • All core courses expose students to the historical context and development of the current knowledge in each biological discipline.

Students also experience biology as a discovery process outside of the classroom.

  • Students attend seminars by invited speakers.
  • They visit museum exhibits and other relevant events.
  • They perform community projects.
  • They do internships and research on- and off-campus.
  • They participate in Biology Club events.

Learning Outcomes 

  • Demonstrate the ability to design and interpret both hypothesis driven experimental investigations and observational studies typical of biological science. 
  • Demonstrate mastery of a body of content indicating understanding of the core concepts and principles of biological science within the framework of evolution. 
  • Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written presentation of experimental/peer-reviewed literature-based research and preparation of journal article style primary research reports. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively use a suite of laboratory techniques, equipment, and computer software appropriate for scientific investigations in biology. 
  • Demonstrate effective teamwork and leadership skills through work on group projects and assignments in lecture and/or lab. 
  • Critically evaluate ethical and public policy issues involving application of biological information. 
  • Demonstrate intellectual engagement through active participation in course activities, discussions, and assignments.