The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry plays a central role at Utah State University. The principles of chemistry lie at the heart of the properties and behavior of molecules, and how they react with one another. These molecular principles are not only fundamental to the chemical sciences, but also to many areas of the biological sciences including genomics, evolution, and the medical sciences. Members of the Department share a commitment to uncover and elucidate the principles underlying molecular behavior, and to probe their relation to other lines of inquiry. Equally important, members of this Department share a commitment to the sharing of their knowledge with students at all levels, and imparting to both graduate and undergraduate students a sense of wonder about the molecular world around them.
The department offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Our undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry majors have the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research early in their program, first as laboratory assistants and eventually moving on to their own research projects. Many undergraduates in the department are able to co-author research papers. This gives students a competitive advantage when they apply to graduate or professional programs, or enter the job market.
The general goal of the Department is that students learn how to think like a scientist; that is, to understand the scientific method in the context of chemistry and biochemistry. Briefly, our goal in assessment is to measure how well students who emerge from our program perform in areas that go beyond simply "knowing the facts." For example, have our students developed the ability to think objectively and critically? Thinking like a scientist involves a host of abilities including the following:
- Knowledge and Skills: The accumulation of facts and methodologies including the ability to perform experiments in the laboratory.
- Comprehension: How well can students translate their knowledge into their own words?
- Application: How well can students apply their knowledge and understanding to new situations?
- Analysis: How well can students compare different or competing theories and exercise critical thinking?
- Synthesis: How well can students combine different concepts from different areas of science?
- Evaluation: Are students able to judge for themselves the validity of material that they encounter? Are they able to make critical assessments of articles in the scientific literature? Can students read a paper in chemistry or biochemistry and summarize its main points in their own words? Can students identify weaknesses in published work? Can students design experiments or simulations to test the validity of an idea or hypothesis?
- Ethics: Have students developed a strong sense of professional and research integrity?