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Biology Department Learning Goals

The Biology major will prepare students to:
  • Think critically
  • Problem solve
  • Learn independently
  • Be biologically literate
  • Be able to effectively construct and communicate novel biological thinking both orally and in writing

BIOL0140, BIOL0145, BIOL0211 and Organismal biology courses provide the foundation for the major.  These courses introduce students to the major biology concepts, skills, experimental design and life from the cellular to the ecosystem level.  Other courses build on this scaffolding of knowledge while allowing students to focus on a particular sub discipline or pursue a broader course of study.

The learning goals that underlie our curricula can be broadly classified as relating to biology content knowledge and skills.

Students will acquire knowledge of basic facts, concepts and theories in biology to address the following questions:
  • How adaptation, natural selection, and evolution have led to the diversity of life?
  • What structures and functions define the cell as the unit of life?
  • What are the mechanisms of inheritance responsible for perpetuation of life?
  • How does homeostasis regulate cell and tissue function?
  • How is life organized at the cell, organism and ecosystem levels?
  • How does energy flow within and between living and non-living systems?
  • How do form and function interact in cells, tissues, and organisms?
  • How have we arrived at the current understanding of biology?
The skills bulleted below will allow students to: 1) critically interpret biological knowledge and relate it to other subject areas in the Liberal Arts, 2) add to the body of biological knowledge through research, and 3) communicate their understanding to others both within and outside of the field:
  • Experimental work in both field and laboratory environments
  • Experimental design—scientific inquiry through the scientific method
  • Experimental implementation—technical skills as well as the skills to research new methods
  • Data analysis and presentation
  • Statistical/quantitative analysis
  • Critical thinking (data interpretation, construction of logical arguments)
  • Writing; clear, complete and concise
    • Formal writing: journals style report, review paper, poster, grant
    • Informal writing: field notebook, lab notebook
  • Oral presentation
  • Critical reading of primary literature
  • Research through primary literature
  • Relate skills and knowledge to other disciplines in the Liberal Arts

Department of Biology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753