Mission, Goals, + Expected Outcomes

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has three main components: (1) the preparation of students majoring in chemistry, biochemistry and forensic science, (2) the provision of appropriate service courses to other academic programs, including athletic training, biology, biopsychology, natural science/education, mathematics, nursing, nutrition science, occupational therapy and physical therapy, (3) and support for the general education curriculum of the college. We strive to accomplish these goals while maintaining high academic standards, in an environment which is both challenging yet highly supportive, with close student-faculty interaction strongly encouraged.

Goals for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Programs

  1. To develop within our students a familiarity with the core principles of the chemical sciences.
  2. To develop within our students skills in reasoning, problem-solving, critical thinking and analysis, oral and written communication, and the use of instrumentation and other technologies encountered in scientific work.
  3. To develop within our students an appreciation for the wide-ranging applications of chemistry as the central science, linking the physical and biological sciences from particle physics to molecular genetics.
  4. To prepare our students for successful careers as chemists or biochemists, whether that involves entry into graduate or professional schools, employment in industry or government, or pursuing a career in education.

Goals for Service to Other Academic Programs

  1. To develop within our students a familiarity with the applications or chemistry and/or physics to their academic disciplines.
  2. To strengthen skills in reasoning, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication.

Goals for General Education

  1. To develop within our students a certain literacy in the physical sciences, especially in the emerging nanoscale sciences, so as to better prepare them for making informed decisions about societal issues, which require some scientific understanding.
  2. To strengthen skills in reasoning, critical thinking and communication.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Programs

It is expected that students completing degrees in chemistry or biochemistry will have achieved some level of competence in the areas outlined below. It is recognized that student success in achieving all of these objectives will vary from one individual to another. Program expectations are geared toward challenging the most accomplished students to extend themselves.

  1. Students will develop an understanding of the traditional foundation areas of chemistry. These include general principles, inorganic, organic, biochemical, analytical and physical chemistry. The core content of the chemistry and biochemistry majors is provided by a sequence of courses, approved by the American Chemical Society. The syllabus for each course will clearly state the learning objectives for that course.
  2. Students will continually develop their skills in reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving, as these are essential aspects of virtually every course.
  3. Students will hone their mathematics skills as they progress through the program, encountering extensive applications of algebraic work, beginning with general chemistry and progressing up through applications of calculus in the physical chemistry course.
  4. Students will strengthen their communication skills, with ample opportunities provided for both written reports and oral presentations.
  5. As they progress to the higher level courses, students will be expected to apply the knowledge base provided in the introductory courses to the more advanced topics they are encountering. In this way, they are encouraged to constantly synthesize old knowledge with new.
  6. Students will develop expertise in carrying out work in the laboratories. This includes skills in specific lab techniques, the proper use of equipment and instrumentation, the adherence to safety regulations, the maintenance of lab notebooks and the preparation of written reports.
  7. Students will develop skills in cooperative work ventures, primarily by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by lab exercises, which are sometimes conducted by pairs or groups of students.
  8. Students will develop an appreciation for the various approaches now available for retrieving information from the chemical literature, both primary journals and secondary references, using both printed materials and electronic access.
  9. Students will gain some experience with involvement in an original research activity. This will include an understanding of how to formulate a research plan, design appropriate experiments and allow developing results to guide the direction of further investigation. All students pursuing ACS approved degrees are required to complete 6 credits of research work, and all major students are encouraged to take advantage of numerous opportunities for participation in summer research projects.
  10. Students will develop confidence in the academic preparation they have received at the college, and will be prepared to embark on their post-graduation careers with self-assurance, as enthusiastic representatives of the chemistry and biochemistry programs at Russell Sage College.