Learning Goals

The EENR Mission

The mission of the Undergraduate Program of DEENR is to integrate academics, research and outreach in the areas of ecology, evolution and natural resources.  We cultivate a fundamental understanding of the biological principles that regulate living systems, and develop proficiencies in field and laboratory techniques.  Our program puts high value of the development of quantitative and critical thinking skills, and we encourage independent intellectual growth, including a required Senior Capstone (11:216:499) experience. Overall, we provide students with a first-rate education that will serve as a solid foundation for all employment and graduate school opportunities in our discipline.

Program Learning Goals for EENR students:

Upon completion of our major, we expect our students to have mastered:

  • Goal 1: Explain basic population, community ecology, and ecosystem-level concepts.
  • Goal 2: Describe the evolutionary origins, processes and patterns over geologic time.
  • Goal 3: Create a natural resource management plan demonstrating an understanding of societal values and interests.
  • Goal 4: Develop a comprehensive understanding of software, hardware, field and laboratory techniques commonly used in the study of ecology, evolution, and natural resources management.
  • Goal 5: Demonstrate the ability to design experiments and interpret numeric and graphical data.
  • Goal 6: Think criticially and solve problems using evidence-based reasoning.
  • Goal 7: Communicate effectively orally and through written text and graphics.
  • Goal 8: Evaluate ecology, evolution, and natural resource management concepts in a global context.

Where/How are Program Learning Goals Achieved

The ecology and natural resources curriculum is quite broad, since it provides an understanding of how natural living systems function and evolve, and how organisms can be managed to conserve biodiversity while providing benefits to people. Students are guided to pursue course work that prepares them for traditional careers in resource management, or they may take a broader array of courses to meet interests related to the conservation of natural resources, and the ecology and evolution of natural systems. ?The department website clearly lists our major requirements, courses (color coded by semester), and certificates.

How are Program Learning Goals Assessed?

The assessment of outcomes within the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources is evaluated directly by individual faculty within the classes that they teach using direct measures from projects and examinations and indirectly through course evaluations. Every course in our curriculum now has a syllabus and course description, and all of the courses now have explicit learning goals associated with them. The most popular tool employed by our faculty is the use of formative assessment, whereby students are iteratively provided feedback to advance learning gains.
We also continue to employ the direct measures from projects and examinations and through course evaluations. In addition, we have two additional sources of student-centered data. The first is an initial entrance survey to assess student interests and motivations for entering the major. In addition, this survey covers issues related to advising and is designed to improve the efficiency and transfer of information during the advising process, and assess the effectiveness of advising. The second survey is an Senior Exit Survey that is used to assess student perception of the curriculum and advising process, and for students' perceptions of their preparedness for their future. [Data from this year's exit interviews are provided as an attachment. Overall, students were quite positive about our program, and they were particularly enthusiastic about the learning experiences in laboratory and field courses.] We also now teach a mandatory Senior Capstone course (11:216:499), which in addition to the exit interviews will close the loop on our assessment strategies. In the capstone course, the students create a portfolio that encompasses a set of current skills and knowledge backed with evidence in the following form:

  1. 1. Justified courses and other relevant experience
  2. 2. Exemplary artifacts from courses and field experiences
  3. 3. Letters of recommendation, written for and by themselves
  4. 4. Resume/CV
  5. 5. Five year professional development plan