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Learning Goals for Undergraduates - Chemistry

Undergraduate students completing baccalaureate degrees in chemistry will have achieved general chemical proficiency as outlined in the following Learning Outcome Goals:

  1. Chemical Principles: Students must have firm foundations in the fundamentals and application of current chemical and scientific theories and be able to demonstrate this command of chemistry through written and oral communications, i.e. reports, tests, and informal discussions.
  2. Methods of Chemistry: Students must be familiar with traditional chemical techniques and procedures, as well as demonstrate a working knowledge of modern chemical analysis instrumentation and computer skills.
  3. Problem solving and research: Students must be able to design, perform and record experimental protocols with the ability to critically analyze the results of those experiments in a hypothesis driven environment.
  4. Scientific communication: Students must be able to record experimental data and observations, write research reports summarizing their experimental work, effectively and efficiently search the scientific literature and present their results to their peers and faculty.

Undergraduate chemistry majors in all three degree programs (BS ACS {American Chemical Society} certified, BS non-certified, and BA) are required to work independently on a research project (CHY 398) and write a final thesis (CHY 399) for the capstone experience. Students work with a faculty member, graduate students or other undergraduates to investigate a problem with an unknown solution. Research requires students to integrate the knowledge they have learned from previous lecture and laboratory coursework. Students are required to write a thesis describing the results of their investigation and defend their thesis orally to a committee composed of at least three chemistry faculty members, including their primary thesis advisor.

The thesis includes an introductory chapter in which the student has the opportunity to briefly review the literature in their area of research. There is also an experimental section, results and discussion, conclusion (with suggestions for future work) and literature references. Writing the thesis provides students the opportunity to put their work in context and apply skills they have learned from writing laboratory reports and the writing-intensive chemistry seminar course, CHY 393. The oral defense of the thesis requires students to succinctly and clearly present their work.

2. Final Oral Exam

At the time of the oral defense, each student is given an additional 15 minute general oral exam by the three-person committee. The purpose of the exam will be to assess the student’s ability to think critically and in an integrated manner about chemical problems. Students are evaluated on their:

a) writing proficiency;

b) laboratory proficiency; including knowledge of chemical techniques and instrumentation, as well as the ability to design, carry out, record and analyze experiments;

c) technology/computer skills;

d) conceptual understanding;

e) oral communication.


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