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Environmental & Plant Biology

College or Campus: College of Arts and Sciences

Student Learning Outcomes

The Department of Environmental & Plant Biology seeks to serve students who are interested in careers related to plant biology. To that end, the department has three distinct undergraduate majors: the B.S. in Environmental and Plant Biology, the B.A. in Applied Plant Biology, and the B.A. in Field Ecology. Each major has a unique professional audience with objectives and curriculum tailored to meet the needs of that audience. Thus, the learning outcomes for each major reflect those objectives. Knowledge is acquired over time and in order to reflect on the skills, experiences and expertise gained, e-portfolios documenting a student’s growth throughout his/her university experience will be key in assessing the learning outcomes.

BS2120 Environmental and Plant Biology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it is used responsibly to gain knowledge in ecology, organismal biology, and/or genetics, molecular and cell biology.
  2. Provide examples of the variety of plants on Earth, their distinctive features, and how they fit into their unique ecosystems.
  3. Identify and describe the features of plant organs/tissues/cells/organelles involved in cellular respiration, photosynthesis, reproduction and growth, genetics and molecular biology, plant structure, and evolution and the relationships among major plants groups.
  4. Describe the basic structure and function of carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and how these are used both by the plant for normal function and by humans.
  5. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget.
  6. Be able to formulate testable hypotheses, design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced in cell biology and genetics, physiology, organismal biology or ecology and describe how the data produced can impact human life.
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from the scientific literature, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in-slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism.

BA2110 Applied Plant Biology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it can be used responsibly to gain knowledge as related to plant growth, production of plant products for human use, and sustainability.
  2. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget.
  3. List the advantages and challenges of various crop improvement and reproduction strategies and describe how to best select crops for local production.  
  4. Provide examples of the variety of plants on Earth, their distinctive features, how they fit into their unique ecosystems, and how soils mediate community composition and ecosystem processes. 
  5. Be able to describe the economic foundations of markets and policy making, especially related to horticulture, agriculture, and global sustainability of plant products.
  6. Be able to design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced as it relates to plant growth, reproduction, and production of plant products for human use, and describe how the data produced can impact human life.
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from a variety of sources, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in -slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism.

BA2119 Field Ecology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it is used responsibly to gain knowledge with emphasis on ecology and organismal biology.
  2. Be able to recognize and identify herbaceous and woody vascular plants in the vegetative condition with the use of identification keys and describe standard practices for collection and preparation of plant specimens of herbarium quality.
  3. Describe the structure of plant communities including diversity and how populations function in the context of communities.
  4. Be able to evaluate basic ecological processes such as competition, herbivory and disturbance and how they impact our global environment.
  5. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget.
  6. Be able to formulate testable hypotheses, design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced in genetics, physiology, organismal biology or ecology, and describe how the data produced can impact human life.
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from a variety of sources, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in -slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism.

Plant Biology M.S.

Program Mission: To expose students to the scientific method in plant ecology, systematics and evolution, and/or molecular and cellular biology. Emphasis is placed on conducting original research and communicating science to the scientific community and in a classroom environment.    

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will know professional standards of science and responsible conduct of scientists that are essential for the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge within their area of study.
  • Students will be able to write a research proposal.
  • Students will know how to design and complete a research study and/or scientific experiment. 
  • Students will be able to process and analyze data to make sound interpretations.
  • Students will be able to communicate scientific ideas in both written and oral forms to diverse audiences.

Plant Biology Ph.D.

Program Mission : To train the next-generation of scholar-scientists in plant ecology, systematics and evolution, and/or molecular and cellular biology. Emphasis is placed on conducting original research and communicating science to the scientific community and in a classroom environment.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Students will know professional standards of science and responsible conduct of scientists that are essential for the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge within their area of study and a breadth of knowledge across the field of plant biology.
  • Students will be able to write a research proposal.
  • Students will know how to design and complete a research study and/or scientific experiments. 
  • Students will be able to process and analyze data to make sound interpretations.
  • Students will be able to communicate scientific ideas in both written and oral forms to diverse audiences.

 

Assessment Plan

Undergraduate

A. Successful completion of required courses (minimum GPA 2.0) should allow students to meet outcomes as indicated by the mapping of courses to the outcomes for each degree.

BS2120 Environmental and Plant Biology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it is used responsibly to gain knowledge in ecology, organismal biology, and/or genetics, molecular and cell biology. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3240/3260, 3300, 4170, 4940)
  2. Provide examples of the variety of plants on Earth, their distinctive features, and how they fit into their unique ecosystems. (PBIO 1150, 2090, 3080)
  3. Identify and describe the features of plant organs/tissues/cells/organelles involved in cellular respiration, photosynthesis, reproduction and growth, genetics and molecular biology, plant structure, and evolution and the relationships among major plants groups. (PBIO 1140, 1150, 3080, 3240/3260)
  4. Describe the basic structure and function of carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins and lipids and how these are used both by the plant for normal function and by humans. (CHEM 1510, 1520, PBIO 1140, 3300)
  5. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget. (PBIO 2090, 3240/3260)
  6. Be able to formulate testable hypotheses, design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced in cell biology and genetics, physiology, organismal biology or ecology, and describe how the data produced can impact human life. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3240/3260, 3300, 4940)
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from the scientific literature, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in -slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism. (ENG 1510, PBIO 3240/3260, 4180J, 4170, 4940)

BA2110 Applied Plant Biology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it can be used responsibly to gain knowledge as related to plant growth, production of plant products for human use and sustainability. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3240, 3300, 3301, 4170)
  2. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 2600, 3240, 4380)
  3. List the advantages and challenges of various crop improvement and reproduction strategies and describe how to best select crops for local production. (PBIO 2600, 3160, 3301)
  4. Provide examples of the variety of plants on Earth, their distinctive features, how they fit into their unique ecosystems, and how soils mediate community composition and ecosystem processes. (PBIO 1150, 3080, 2020, 4380)
  5. Be able to describe the economic foundations of markets and policy making, especially related to horticulture, agriculture, and global sustainability of plant products. (PBIO 2600, ECON 1030, ECON/MKT elective, PBIO 4910)
  6. Be able to design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced as it relates to plant growth, reproduction, and production of plant products for human use, and describe how the data produced can impact human life. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3240, 3300)
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from a variety of sources, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in-slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism. (ENG 1510, COMS 1010, PBIO 3240, 4181J, 4170)

BA2119 Field Ecology

  1. Describe the process of science (the scientific method) and the ethical issues associated with it in the global community and how it is used responsibly to gain knowledge with emphasis on ecology and organismal biology). (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3260, 4170)
  2. Be able to recognize and identify herbaceous and woody vascular plants in the vegetative condition with the use of identification keys and describe standard practices for collection and preparation of plant specimens of herbarium quality. (PBIO 1150, 3190)
  3. Describe the structure of plant communities including diversity and how populations function in the context of communities. (PBIO 2090, 4350)
  4. Be able to evaluate basic ecological processes such as competition, herbivory and disturbance and how they impact our global environment. (PBIO 2090, 3260, 4350, 4910)
  5. Describe how plants interact with and contribute to their environment through plant water relations, carbon allocation, nutrient cycles, and/or biotic and abiotic stressors and adaptations, both locally and in the global energy budget. (PBIO 2090, 2600, 3260, 4380, 4910; GEOL elective)
  6. Be able to formulate testable hypotheses, design experiments, collect and analyze data, critically evaluate and present the data produced in genetics, physiology, organismal biology or ecology, and describe how the data produced can impact human life. (PBIO 1140, 2090, 3150, 3260, 4350)
  7. Be able to retrieve, critically evaluate and synthesize material from a variety of sources, produce effective written and oral presentations tailored to different audiences, using appropriate grammar and formats, appropriate in-text/in -slide citations, and avoiding plagiarism. (ENG 1510, PBIO 3260, 4181J, 4170, 4910)

B. Each student will be expected to establish and maintain an e-portfolio and will review the contents annually with his or her academic adviser to identify weaknesses and strengths in each learning outcome using the progress rubric for his or her major.

C. During the exit interview prior to graduation, the department chair will review and discuss each student’s e-portfolio materials, evaluating the achievements in each learning outcome described in the progress rubric for his or her major.

D. The Assessment Committee will evaluate the rubric documents in the aggregate for each major program to determine patterns regarding whether outcomes are being met or if curricular changes are needed. This committee will report to the faculty each year on the outcome of the assessment and the department will institute changes as needed.

Graduate

PBIO faculty believes that developing clearly defined Learning Outcomes (LOs) and procedures to assess these LOs is crucial for the success of PBIO Graduate Programs. This document details the assessment procedures (the LOs can be found in another document). The assessment plan has been developed to align with our LOs and measures if our graduate curriculum is meeting our objectives. We will measure the success of our graduate students using multiple factors, including:

Indirect measures :

Data on employment or placement of graduating students into appropriate career positions

Course evaluations

Authorship of publications

Research presentations

Honors/awards/public recognition (taken from annual progress reports that students provide)

An exit survey (graduating seniors and/or alumni similar to Appendix A ).

These data and the exit survey in particular will be used to assess and make changes to the curriculum and ‘close the loop’.

Direct measures :

Evaluation of Dissertation/Thesis documents by the students committee (short form assessing specific LOs related the Dissertation/Thesis document, Appendix B ).

Evaluation of Professional Practices (TA evaluation by instructors and students) collated by the Graduate Chair.

Evaluation of the oral presentation skills of students during their final seminar presentations (presentation assessment form, Appendix C ).

Assessment Procedures:

The faculty will evaluate submitted assessment documents in the aggregate for each of the two graduate programs (MS and PhD) to determine patterns regarding whether outcomes are being met or if curricular changes are needed. The faculty of each departmental focus area (Molecular & Cell Biology, Plant & Forest Ecology and Systematics & Evolution) will provide an annual report at a faculty meeting on the outcome of the assessment and the department will institute changes as needed. The outcomes of this discussion will be documented by the Graduate Chair in a report of Evidence of Student Learning and the Use of Student Learning Evidence.

Indirect measures : Every year, the Graduate Chair will collate the previous year’s data and provide it to faculty of each focus area. These faculty will meet as a group to discuss the data. They will provide written conclusions and proposed actions, if any. These conclusions and proposed actions will be discussed at a Fall Semester departmental faculty meeting. The following scale will be utilized 1 = Does not meet expectations, 2 = Falls below expectations, 3 = Meets expectations, 4 = Above expectations, 5 = Exceeds expectations, on the evaluation forms for each of the questions.

Direct measures : Each individual student should have a research project that is designed to increase the basic knowledge and to enhance student’s own creative practice in specific focus area. This is accomplished through the three evaluations described above. Every year, the Graduate Chair will collate the previous year’s data and present aggregated data (3-5 or more years) for discussion at a Fall Semester departmental faculty meeting. Scales such as 1 = Does not meet expectations, 2 = Below expectations, 3 = Meets expectations, 4 = Above expectations, 5 = Exceeds expectations, can be integrated into the evaluation forms for each of the questions.

Explanation of Ratings:

5 - Exceeds expectations 100% of LOs are met

4 - Above expectations 90% of LOs are met

3 - Meets expectations 80% of LOs are met

2 - Falls below expectations 70% of LOs are met

1 - Does not meet expectations 60% of LOs are met

Evidence of Student Learning

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Use of Student Learning Evidence

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