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Biology Department Learning Goals

Biology Department Mission and Learning Goals   
(Adopted March 19, 2021)

The Biology major will prepare students to:

  • Think critically
  • Problem solve
  • Learn independently
  • Work collaboratively on projects
  • Be biologically literate
  • Be able to effectively construct and communicate novel biological thinking both orally and in writing
  • Integrate what they have learned across sub-disciplines within biology to address current and future societal and global challenges

Achieving the learning goals will allow students to develop the following skills:

  • 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
  • Analysis and presentation of quantitative data:  graphing, modeling, and statistical analyses.
  • Critical thinking—data interpretation and construction of logical arguments
  • Written communication: clear, complete, and concise
    • Formal writing:  journal-style report, review paper, poster, grant proposal
    • Informal writing:  field notebook, lab notebook
  • Oral communication:  research talk, facilitated discussion
  • Research and critical reading of primary literature in biology
  • Application of skills and knowledge in biology to other disciplines in the Liberal Arts
  • Communication and collaboration with diverse groups of people
  • Engagement in discussions of ethical and historical issues relevant to biological disciplines


Achieving the learning goals will allow students to acquire knowledge of basic facts, concepts, and theories in biology to address the following questions:

  • How have evolutionary processes led to the diversity of life?
  • How is life organized at the cell, organism and ecosystem levels?
  • What are the mechanisms of inheritance responsible for perpetuation of life?
  • What structures and functions define the cell as the fundamental unit of life?
  • How do form and function interact in cells, tissues, and organisms?
  • How does homeostasis regulate cell, tissue, and organ function?
  • How do organisms interact with one another and their environments across ecological and evolutionary timescales?
  • What are the pathways of transformation of energy and matter within and between living and non-living systems?
  • How is information communicated at the intracellular, intercellular, and organismal levels?
  • How have we arrived at the current understanding of biology?


BIOLOGY MISSION STATEMENT (short version currently on website)

The mission of the Department of Biology is to provide students with the opportunity to explore the science of life, in all its complexity and diversity, within the tradition of the liberal arts.  We are committed to excellence in our teaching and research programs.  We strive to develop each student's ability to acquire and critically interpret knowledge of basic facts and theories of biology, to relate that knowledge to other subject areas in the liberal arts, to add to the body of biological knowledge through research, and to communicate their understanding to others both within and outside the field of biology.  In the laboratory and in the field, students work in small groups directly with the faculty.  We offer a variety of upper-level courses in each area, and we are well equipped to offer laboratory and field courses throughout the curriculum.

Department of Biology

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