Undergraduate Education Program

Westmont College

Eileen McQuade, Michael Everest
Santa Barbara, CA
June 2017

Westmont College seeks to develop its biology and chemistry students into practicing scientists, by developing their skills of independent scientific inquiry and fostering curiosity and collaboration.  Each year, approximately 350 students are enrolled in biology or chemistry lab courses and 45-50 graduate with degrees in those majors.  While the departments have a strong tradition of faculty-student collaborative research, this is often limited to a selective group of upper-division students.  Westmont proposes to increase student exposure to real science practice throughout the curriculum in order to develop the scientific habits necessary for success in the professional world.  The plan is to: (1) revamp the curriculum to incorporate more inquiry-based lab exercises that require students to think and act like professional scientists; (2) increase the rigor of the statistics and analysis our students do in laboratories; (3) improve and maintain laboratory instrumentation to ensure students gain independence and competence with the latest technology; and, (4) restructure a senior capstone course to center around a student-hosted research seminar series.  By expanding inquiry-based research throughout the curriculum, the project will teach students how to ask good questions and gain the competence and confidence to use the scientific process to seek answers.

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