Learning Outcomes

The mission of the Chemistry Program at Wheaton College is to enable students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to understand our chemical world and to investigate its complexities.

We are committed to fostering students’ creativity and to preparing them for meaningful careers in the Chemical Sciences. Students grow, learn, and discover through research collaborations with faculty members. Wheaton’s small classes and hands-on teaching style are uniquely suited to helping students emerge as responsible scientists.

We believe that hands-on laboratory experiences are critical to the education of our students.  As such, we believe it is important to both have goals for the laboratory education component of our curriculum and to disseminate these goals widely.

Goals and Learning Outcomes for Chemistry Education at Wheaton College

Chemistry students at Wheaton College will:

  1. Master knowledge across the leading subdisciplines of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, biochemical) through an ACS-approved curriculum that will prepare them for professional careers and higher education.

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Apply fundamental chemical principles,
  • Analyze and solve problems individually and in groups,
  • Use software and online tools to gather, analyze, and present information,
  • Understand relationships and interpret scientific data.
  1. Grasp a social context for chemistry and its sub-disciplines.

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Articulate the impact of chemistry on society,
  • Apply chemical principles to real world problem-solving.
  1. Gain laboratory experience with advanced instruments through experimentation in our state of the art laboratories.

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Use the scientific method for investigating chemical hypotheses,
  • Recognize the relationship between chemical theory and its physical manifestations,
  • Practice careful record-keeping of experimental investigations,
  • Measure chemical properties with analytical instrumentation: NMR, IR, HPLC, etc.,
  • Interpret results of experimental measurements,
  • Meet ethical standards set by the scientific community,
  • Execute advanced techniques with the possibility of research,
  • Operate safely in the laboratory with appropriate handling of hazards.
  1. Develop effective skills for the communication of scientific ideas.

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate skills for presenting science through posters and oral presentations,
  • Work in teams in laboratory,
  • Express fluency in reading and understand chemical literature,
  • Explain complex topics from literature and/or research clearly and succinctly to a broad audience,
  • Abide by the standards set by the scientific community for scientific writing,
  • Exhibit a high degree of professionalism.

Goals and Learning Outcomes for the Chemical Laboratory at Wheaton College

Chemistry students at Wheaton College will:

  1. Learn the methods and processes of scientific inquiry.

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Extract and summarize critical/essential information from written instructions/papers (What, Why, How),
  • Translate written instructions into step-by-step procedures,
  • Identify and use the appropriate laboratory equipment and instrumentation,
  • Exhibit the physical dexterity needed for lab techniques,
  • Observe and record physical phenomena,
  • Interpret and respond to observations,
  • Distinguish measured data from calculated/interpreted results.
  1.  Reinforce class (chemical) concepts through .

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Perform calculations from measured data,
  • Illustrate physical manifestations of chemical theory,
  • Carry out chemical reactions discussed in class,
  • Relate analytical methods to chemical and physical properties of an analyte.
  1. Recognize and respect the hazards and safety issues associated with conducting laboratory experiments

    After graduating, our students will be able to:
  • Read and understand safety data sheets (SDS),
  • Identify and use personal protective equipment and safety features of the laboratory,
  • Practice appropriate laboratory techniques,
  • Properly handle and dispose of hazardous materials.

Learning Outcomes for Biochemistry

Biochemistry illuminates the fundamental unity of life, through the study of molecules and pathways that are conserved from E. coli to Homo sapiens.

The study of the structures, functions, and interactions between biological molecules forms the focus of the work of biochemists. Biochemistry majors will build and expand their capacity to think, work, and communicate as scientists. Majors will use biochemical knowledge for experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, scientific reports and presentations, and exposure to the research literature. Mastery in these essential areas will prepare biochemistry graduates for graduate study in the health professions or natural sciences, as well as for work in a research environment.

Students who pursue the biochemistry major will participate in upper-level courses addressing the subject of biochemistry after attaining a background in the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Through their studies, students will gain deep understanding of many of the chemical reactions and structures of biological molecules essential to life on Earth. Course content will include the structure and function of nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids; enzyme kinetics, mechanism, and inhibition; thermodynamics and equilibria of biochemical reactions; metabolic and cellular signaling pathways; DNA replication, transcription, and translation; and protein folding, synthesis, and processing.

Through their laboratory coursework, biochemistry majors will acquire extensive experience in the practice of science. Students will learn about and perform UV/VIS, IR, and NMR spectroscopy; enzyme-mediated reactions and their kinetics; nucleic acid purification, digestion and electrophoresis; PCR, cloning, and genetic engineering; SDS-PAGE protein electrophoresis and Western blotting; and protein purification. With hands-on exposure to these techniques, students will comprehend how the biochemical principles introduced in the classroom are applied to research questions in the laboratory. Additionally, students may elect to pursue an independent research opportunity in the biology or chemistry departments to further enrich their scientific growth.