Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Learning Outcomes

The mission of the Chemistry Program at Wheaton College is to enable students 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 for the Chemical Laboratory

1. Learn the methods and processes of scientific inquiry

  • Extract and summarize critical/essential information from written instructions/papers (What, Why, How)
  • Translate written instructions into step-by-step procedures
  • Learn to identify and use the appropriate laboratory equipment and instrumentation
  • Develop and practice the physical dexterity needed for lab techniques
  • Develop skills in observing and recording physical phenomena
  • Interpreting and responding to observations
  • Distinguish measured data from calculated/interpreted results

2. Reinforce class (chemical) concepts through hands-on application

  • Perform calculations from measured data
  • Illustrate physical manifestation of chemical theory
  • Carry out chemical reactions discussed in class
  • Relate instrumental/analytical method to chemical and physical properties of an analyte
  • Illustrate real-world application of chemical knowledge

3. Recognize and understand the hazards and safety issues associated with conducting laboratory experiments

  • Develop and internalize safe practices for the laboratory
  • Read and understand SDS sheets
  • Identify and use proper personal protective equipment and safety features of the laboratory
  • Properly handle and dispose of hazardous material

Wheaton College as an institution, and the faculty members in Chemistry, believe that strong communication skills are essential for our students.  As a result, we have developed a set of goals specifically related to chemical communication, in all its forms.

Goals of Communication Plan

 1. Documentation

  • Identify critical information for experimental records
  • Develop skills of observation and description
  • Acquire appropriate scientific language
  • Record procedures, data and observation
  • Use symbols to represent chemical structures and processes

2. Presentation

  • Understand the purposes of communicating chemical information
  • Understand the audience(s) for such information
  • Understand the various genres of chemical communication
  • Increase familiarity with the rhetorical conventions of chemical journals: structure of articles; voice; tone; data display

3. Interpretation

  • Understand the use physical data to describe chemical principles
  • Explain graphical data
  • Identify and summarize main idea in a scientific paper
  • Draw conclusions based on scientific information

 4. Synthesis

  • Formulate appropriate, focused questions/problems
  • Represent scientific information graphically
  • Predict results based on prior knowledge or research literature
  • Propose experimental design

 4. Evaluation

  • Assess certainty of your experimental conclusions
  • Place your conclusions in the context of the broader field
  • Critique interpretations in the research literature



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