Problem solving skills. Students should be able to define problems clearly, develop testable hypotheses, design and execute experiments, analyze data, and draw appropriate conclusions. Ideally, this process will utilize a holistic integration of the chemical sub-disciplines. Students should use the appropriate lab skills and instrumentation to solve problems, while understanding the fundamental uncertainties in experimental measurements.
Chemical literature skills. Students should be able to use the peer-reviewed scientific literature effectively and evaluate technical articles critically. They should be able to retrieve information using the state-of-the-art abstracting services, such as SciFinder Scholar. Integrating the use of these skills into several courses and independent research projects is necessary to fully develop these particular skills and develop the ‘habit of mind.'
Laboratory safety skills. Students need to learn and understand the concepts of safe laboratory practices. Students should learn and understand safe disposal techniques, understand and comply with safety regulations, understand and use material safety data sheets (MSDS) and recognize and minimize potential chemical and physical hazards in the laboratory.
Communication skills. Our curriculum provides students with multiple venues to develop written and speaking skills in an environment that provides iterative feedback from professors. Students should be able to present information in a clear and organized manner, write well organized and concise reports in a scientifically appropriate style, and use appropriate technology such as poster presentation software, word-processing, and chemical structure drawing programs, and computerized presentations in their communication. Our majors should also be able to organize, orally present, and write a senior thesis of 35-45 pages in length.
Team skills. Students should be able to work effectively in a group to solve scientific problems, be effective leaders as well as effective team members, and interact productively with a diverse set of peers. Our curriculum incorporates team experiences in the classroom and 43 laboratory, and some faculty utilize a team-based approach in independent research projects.
Ethics. Ethical scientific behavior is an intentional part of our introductory curriculum and is carried forward in upper-division coursework and in independent research activities. We also aim to have our students be aware of the place of chemistry in contemporary societal and global issues. This latter aspect is accomplished via course work, travel to professional meetings, and via our on-campus seminar series.