Each goal articulated below advances the education of Willamette undergraduates in the field of chemistry within the context of a liberal arts education. These goals refine critical thinking skills, enhances our students’ awareness of the broader importance of chemistry, and prepares our students to contribute their chemical knowledge to society upon graduation.
The Student Learning Outcomes of the Chemistry Program include:
- Foundations in Chemistry
- Chemistry is conveniently divided into several widely recognized subfields. The chemistry major at Willamette University requires all students to take courses in analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. In addition, the Biochemistry Track within the major requires biochemistry. A chemistry major should be knowledgeable about the important theories, experimental evidence, and applications of these subfields. Students should be able to apply knowledge from a combination of subfields to solve problems of a chemical nature.
- Laboratory Skills
- Chemistry is a laboratory science. All chemistry majors should acquire the skills necessary to work in an academic, commercial, or industrial laboratory after graduation. These skills include experience with the instruments, glassware, and techniques commonly used in laboratory settings. Majors should be able to work collaboratively on investigations, and they should develop an ability to design experiments from the ground up.
- Analytical Skills
- All chemistry majors should be able to draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from the data they collect in the laboratory. Majors should understand how to assess the uncertainty, precision, and significance of data using formal statistical techniques; they should be comfortable using commercial software designed for data manipulation and presentation; and they should be familiar with sophisticated chemical computation software.
- Communication Skills
- A successful chemistry graduate should be able to communicate in a variety of formats commonly used by chemists. The department has identified the literature summary, the research poster, the formal laboratory report, the research proposal, and the research report as essential forms of written communication for chemists, and has incorporated these formats into the curriculum. Majors should have experience discussing chemistry before an audience in the context of both formal and informal oral presentations.
- Research Tools
- Research is the method by which chemical knowledge is acquired, and all chemistry majors should be capable of conducting an independent research project. Chemistry majors should know how to search reference sources and literature databases for specific information. They should have experience reading the primary scientific literature. Chemistry majors should be able to develop a hypothesis regarding a significant chemical question, design a method to test that hypothesis, carry out the method they propose, and evaluate the results.