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UW Biology Major Goals and Learning Objectives



 The student learning goals and objectives of the Biology degree adheres closely to those recommended in Vision and Change: A Call to Action supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Courses within the Biology curriculum will address goals and objectives at the appropriate level through measureable student learning outcomes developed by course instructors.

Upon completing the 1000-3000 level Life Sciences courses and additional upper-level courses required for the Biology major, students completing the B.S. in Biology will be expected to meet the following learning goals and objectives:

GOAL 1: Students will be expected to remember, comprehend, apply, analyze, and synthesize the following core concepts in biology:

  • Evolution.

  • Biodiversity

  • Structure and function.

  • Information flow, exchange, and storage.

  • Pathways and transformations of energy and matter.

  • Systems.


GOAL 2: Students will develop the ability to apply the process of science.

  • Understand defining characteristics of the process of science.

  • Practice the skills of the scientific method.

  • Engage in research projects.


GOAL 3: Students will be able to reason quantitatively.

  • Understand common quantitative approaches in biology.

  • Apply quantitative skills to biological problems.

  • Interpret and act on quantitative data from a variety of sources.

  • Understand the role of uncertainty in science.


GOAL 4: Students will be able to use modeling and simulation.

  • Understand how models and simulations describe living systems.

  • Evaluate the advantages and limitations of reductionist and systems approaches, which recognize the spatiotemporal complexities of the natural world.

  • Understand the variety and major differences in available models and their structure, including stochastic versus deterministic models and analytical versus simulation modeling.


GOAL 5: Students will be able to communicate and collaborate within and outside of biology.

  • Understand the distinguishing features of different forms of scientific communication.

  • Communicate concepts through peer interactions and collaboration.

  • Communicate science through formal and informal written, visual, and oral methods.

  • Tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science.


GOAL 6: Students should understand the relationship between science and society.

  • Evaluate the impact of science on society.

  • Evaluate the ethical implications of science.

  • Explore how science is applied in a social context.

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