Biology Department Program Assessment




Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes (PSLOs)


At the completion of the Biology Program, a student will:


  1. Be able to distinguish a scientific hypothesis from a nonscientific idea.

  2. Be aware of the chemical nature of life and apply chemical principles to everyday concepts such as diet and health.

  3. Be able to find common ground between the functions of their own bodies and the functions of other life forms on Earth.

  4. Be able to use a microscope so they can see that the living world is full of life forms (such as cells and bacteria) that are too small for them to see with their unaided eyes.

  5. Be able to describe a few different ways that humans or other living organisms maintain internal homeostasis.

  6. Be able to describe the basic relationship between DNA, proteins, and the transmission and evolution
    of hereditary traits.

PSLO Assessment Report Summary


What we looked at

We focused on one PSLO, Be aware of the chemical nature of life and apply chemical principles to everyday concepts such as diet and health. This is an especially important PSLO, since chemistry underlies all of biological science. As set forth in the assessment guidelines that were in effect at the time, we selected one course, Biology 45 (Human Physiology) to serve as a pilot for this, our first-time PSLO assessment effort. To assess the PSLO, we looked at the Unit I exam scores of students in four sections of Bio 45. This exam assesses the mastery of the chemical principles that underlie human physiology, and indeed all of biological science.


What we found

We were heartened to discover that a majority of students scored at or above proficiency on the assessment that we looked at. Although we cannot generalize these results to all courses across our curriculum without more study, this was encouraging. It suggests that our particular combination of student effort and preparation, along with the instruction that we provide, is effective in achieving the learning objectives of the Biology Program.


What we are planning to work on

Since we did this program-level assessment, the definition of program has been clarified and the assessment guidelines themselves have changed. We are working on adapting to these changes, and are extensively revising our PSLOs, and devising a tenable methodology for assessing them.