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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Undergraduate Studies

Learning Goals of the Biology Major

Students completing the requirements of the B.A. and B.S. Biology degrees will perceive biology not as a collection of facts, but as a dynamic conceptual framework. The Biology major prepares students for careers in biology, biotechnology and health related fields, and prepares students to further their education in graduate and professional schools. Completion of the core classes (L111, L112, L113, L211, L311, and L318) and advanced electives will provide students with fundamental science skills and a deep understanding of the biological principles governing life on our planet. Graduates will obtain the skills needed to be independent, life-long learners, including the ability to evaluate scientific issues that affect daily life and society.

Program competencies

Students graduating from our program will be able to:

1. Apply the scientific process to address biological questions and problems.

This skill requires students to:


Make observations
Identify significant open questions
Formulate hypotheses
Design experiments
Learn modern laboratory techniques
Collect and document data
Use quantitative reasoning to analyze, interpret, and present data
Collaborate with others to solve problems

These activities enable hypothesis-driven experimentation and analytical thinking. This approach to knowledge forms the basis of scientific research, guides the formation, testing, and validation of theories, and distinguishes conclusions developed through scientific reasoning from those that rest on unverified assertion.

2. Find, critically evaluate, and communicate information on biological questions.

This skill requires students to:


Identify appropriate information sources
Comprehend and critically analyze primary, secondary, and popular scientific literature
Distinguish between supported and unsupported conclusions in a given study
Use writing to distill meaning from a collection of information sources, logically organize ideas, and construct a cogent scientific argument
Convey the scientific argument through concise written and oral communication

These activities result in deeper more nuanced understanding of biological studies, their relationship to prior published work, and the formulation of future directions for a field. Graduates will be able to accurately communicate biological information, and the importance of underlying issues, to diverse audiences.

3. Think critically and ethically about biological research and its societal impact

This skill requires students to:


Understand and recognize ethical issues that arise from scientific research
Understand and recognize ethical research practices
Understand the role of science in addressing societal issues
Understand how biological concepts are derived from scientific research, and how further scientific advancements will support, refute or alter current theories.

These activities provide graduates with the skills necessary for informed scientific stewardship.

Core program content

The skills above will be developed while students engage in course work focused on the following content:

A) Relationship between structure and function on different biological scales

B) Flow of energy and matter through biological systems, from cells to ecosystems

C) Flow of genetic information from storage to phenotype

D) Mechanisms of inheritance

E) Evolution and maintenance of biological diversity

F) Connectivity and emergent properties of complex biological networks, from molecules to ecosystems

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