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Biology

Department Mission, Goals and Philosophy

Our Mission

The Department of Biological Sciences provides the biological component of the liberal arts education at Central Washington University. We promote student understanding of biological concepts relevant to the individual and to society, and foster an appreciation of scientific inquiry. Evolution is the unifying theme of our curriculum. Our students obtain a broad education covering a wide variety of biological disciplines. Our teaching philosophy and facilities support a rich education experience with small class sizes, hands-on experience, regular interaction with expert faculty, and opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate research. We offer a full complement of competitive pre-professional programs, strong programs in regional field biology, and a high-quality program for secondary biology educators.

Our Goals

  1. Offer an undergraduate program that provides the knowledge, skills, and appreciation of the biological sciences for biology majors, general education students, and students in other majors whose programs require biology.
  2. Provide a rigorous program of graduate training at the Master's level.
  3. Maintain a group of faculty capable of providing instruction in the three broad areas of biology: Cell and Molecular Biology, Organismal Biology, and Ecology. Within the faculty there should be knowledge of all major groups of organisms and all levels of biological organization.
  4. Enhance opportunities for faculty scholarship, research, and development. The ability of the Department to provide an enriched, diverse learning environment in the biological sciences for majors and general education students is directly related to the vitality, expertise, and diversity of its personnel. Existing faculty must be provided with the opportunity to continue to develop their teaching and research skills.
  5. Develop, implement and maintain a continual process of program review in which all faculty members review and revise the mission, goals, and objectives of the department, develop strategies on how to best accomplish our goals and objectives, develop tools to assess our success, and establish departmental procedures and policies to create more informed and efficient decision-making.
  6. Obtain the necessary resources to carry out our mission and goals.
  7. Provide services to other areas within the University, community, and region.

Our Philosophy

The Department of Biological Sciences at Central Washington University has high standards of instruction that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for successful post-graduate lives. The Department, consistent with the mission of the University, strives to help students develop lifelong learning skills that will allow them to become productive members of society. A mechanism whereby academic development and lifelong learning occurs is through interactions with our students that begin with excellent teaching.

The Department uses a variety of instructional methods, including a mix of traditional lecture and laboratory with contemporary instructional techniques that emphasize inquiry, problem solving, small group collaboration, and writing across the curriculum. The purpose for using these approaches is to increase student content knowledge, scientific literacy, and critical thinking - important elements of lifelong learning in the sciences. Complementing traditional lecture/laboratory instruction, inquiry-based teaching is used to help students develop essential skills and scientific ways of thinking through exploration, analysis, and evaluation of scientific concepts and principles. Problem solving is used to help students understand scientific content as well as develop scientific process so that instruction is relevant and meaningful. Small group collaboration is used as a mechanism for inquiry and problem solving that helps students develop communication, teamwork, and critical thinking, skills that are valued by the global scientific community. Finally, writing is used to help students develop a thorough understanding of scientific concepts and principles, and hone their skills as effective communicators.

Technology is another teaching innovation that is being integrated into Department curriculum. Department faculty use technology as a communication and organizational tool that supports excellent teaching. Examples of technology that is being used to help students learn science include course management software (Blackboard), presentation software (i.e. PowerPoint), database software (Microsoft Access and ISI Researchsoft EndNote), assessment software (TestGen EQ and CourseCompass), visualization and modeling software (CHIME and RasMol), statistical software (SPSS), and various Websites (either existing or constructed by faculty for their courses).

Collectively, the instructional innovations and technology as described above are being used by the Department to help prepare Central Washington University students to be lifelong learners of science and productive members of society. Students also learn how to use many of these technologies in their own presentations and studies.