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Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources Undergraduate Program

Wood Pecker

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: Effectively utilize software, hardware, field, and laboratory techniques commonly used in the study of ecology, evolution, and natural resource management.
  • Goal 5: Use quantitative methods to analyze and understand ecological systems, including interpretation of numeric and graphical data.
  • Goal 6: Communicate effectively orally and through written text and graphics.
  • Goal 7: Evaluate ecology, evolution, and natural resource management concepts in a global context.

Where/How are Program Learning Goals Achieved

The ecology, evolution, 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 their chosen career paths in resource management, conservation of natural resources, and/or the ecology and evolution of natural systems. As such, the exact combination of courses will differ from student to student. However, successful completion of the 9 required core courses will ensure all learning goals are met. The department website clearly lists our major requirements, courses (color coded by semester), and certificates. See courses sorted by Departmental Learning Goal.

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 a 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. We also now teach a mandatory Senior Capstone course (11:216:499), which in addition to the exit survey will close the loop on our assessment strategies. In the capstone course, the students create an online portfolio that encompasses a set of current skills and knowledge backed with evidence in the following form:

  1. Relevant coursework and associated exemplary projects
  2. Relevant experience including lab and fieldwork
  3. A downloadable resume/CV
  4. A personal statement, including identification of desired career paths

Undergraduate Program Director

Kimberly Russell
Blake Hall, Rm. 100
Phone: 848-932-9383

Program Brochure (760k PDF)