College of Arts & Sciences

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Goal 1: Expand Student Knowledge in the Field of Molecular Biosciences and Other Fields Associated with Living Systems

Objective 1: Cellular and Molecular Basis of Life.
Students will learn in depth complex biological content and concepts at the cellular and molecular level by taking required lecture courses in four major areas, taking discussion/presentation based courses focused on current topics in molecular biosciences and attending graduate seminar where invited speakers will present their research.

Objective 2: Area of Expertise Associated with Living Systems
Students will learn in depth biological content and concepts in one or more fields of biological sciences to which molecular bioscience can be applied, i.e. microbiology, neuroscience, immunology, developmental biology, and environmental sciences. This will allow students to apply molecular and cellular biotechnologies to studies on living systems.

Assessment:
  • Students will take required courses in Molecular Biology, Signal Transduction, Cell Culture and Recombinant DNA Technologies and be graded according to course assignments.
  • Students will take a Preliminary Exam in each required lecture course upon completion of the five required courses (including Biostatistics).
  • Students will be graded on their discussions and presentations of current topics as cover in the course, Readings in Molecular Biosciences.
  • Students will take elective courses in an area of biological sciences other than molecular biosciences that is associated with their research interest on living systems and be graded according to course assignments.
  • Students will be evaluated on their knowledge of molecular biosciences and another area of expertise associated with their research interest during their Doctoral Candidacy Exam.

Goal 2: Develop Skills Related to Molecular Biosciences and Other Fields Associated with Living Systems
Objective 1: Biostatistics and Numeracy
Students will learn statistical methods as applied to experimental biology including hypotheses testing, probability and chi square, linear regression and correlation, analyses of variance and nonparametric statistics. They will develop the ability to reason and apply complex numeracy concepts and equations through laboratory work, analyses of data and communication of their research using proper presentation of results in tables and graphs.

Objective 2: Laboratory Research Skills
Student will learn laboratory research skills associated with a modern laboratory environment. They will learn how to use various pieces of laboratory equipment and how to conduct various laboratory techniques associated with molecular biology. They will demonstrate excellence in accurate data collection and scientific equipment calibration. These will include equipment and procedures required for their thesis research but also those associated with research projects conducted with faculty members other than their mentor and/or conducted at commercial laboratories by carrying out laboratory rotations. Students will specifically gain experience in recombinant DNA technologies and cell culture.

Objective 3: Critical Thinking
Students will develop a high level of critical thinking skills which are necessary for principle investigators conducting cutting edge research. These skills will include critical examination of facts and knowledge of possible bias, appropriate experimental design, and an understanding of the limitations of biological techniques and analytical equipment. These skills will be developed through lecture and laboratory courses, by working with their mentor and dissertation committee on research projects and by writing various documents including a candidacy exam, grant proposals and research papers.

Objective 4: Scientific Information and Technology Literacy
Students will develop skills necessary for researching the scientific literature and for using informatics programs associated with molecular biology and/or their fields of interest. Students will also become knowledge of recent literature in their fields of interest. These literacies will be developed by searching various databases for research articles, by reading and analyzing research articles, and by preparing various documents, including those assigned in content and reading courses, their candidacy exam, grant proposals and research papers. Knowledge of informatics will be gained through courses, laboratory rotations and conducting their own research project.

Objective 5: Communication
Students will learn skills associated with communicating their research findings to other scientists and the public at large. These skills will be developed through research presentations, a scientific writing course, and by writing various documents including a candidacy exam and paper publication requirement for graduation. Students will also be strongly encouraged to write grant proposals for extracurricular funding.

Assessment:
  • Assignments for courses in biostatistics, scientific writing, recombinant DNA technology and cell culture.
  • Evaluation of student knowledge of instruments and biological techniques as determined by required courses, laboratory rotations, Preliminary and Candidacy exams and peer-reviewed paper requirement.
  • Evaluation of critical thinking skills and scientific information and literacy as determined by Molecular Readings course, Preliminary and Candidacy Exams, defense of research dissertation, and peer-reviewed paper requirement.
  • Evaluation of communication skills as determined by Molecular Readings course, poster and platform presentations, defense of research dissertation and peer-reviewed paper requirement.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge and Skills of Molecular Biosciences to the Greater Good of Society
Objective 1: Opportunities and Limitations in the Application of Biological Knowledge, Skills, and Research.
Students will be able to integrate scientific, biological knowledge within a social, political and/or historical context while recognizing both the potential and limitations of scientific application.

Objective 2: Knowledge of the Ethical Use of Living Organisms in Research
Students will learn how and when to reduce the use of living organisms in research. As appropriate to the study, this might include reusing organisms, utilizing cell culture, and using non-destructive measures of biological responses. They will also learn how to obtain permission from institutional boards and committees for the use of animals/ humans in research.

Objective 3: Knowledge of how to ethically communicate research findings to the scientific community and to properly credit the work of collaborators and other researchers.
Students will learn the importance of presenting and publishing accurate, controlled and representative data from their research findings to the scientific community and public at large. They will learn how to properly cite the work of their colleagues and other researchers.

Objective 4: Professional and Career Development.
Students will be able to implement the knowledge, skills and values of biological sciences into occupational pursuits, making them attractive candidates in today’s job market.

Assessment:
  • The ability of students to apply scientific processes, including designing and conducting experiments and examining hypotheses will be assessed in course assignments, Preliminary and Candidacy Exams, Dissertation Defense, presentations to the scientific community and the peer-reviewed paper requirement.
  • The ability of students to place their research in a broader scientific context based on current literature will be evaluated through course assignments, Candidacy Exam and Dissertation defense.
  • Assignments in a required course, Ethical Conduct of Research, will assess the student’s ability to recognize the importance of ethical implications in use of living organisms in research. The student’s ability to properly cite the scientific literature and to properly credit the work of collaborators will also be addressed in this course as well as their Candidacy Exam and Dissertation defense.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to obtain permission for utilized vertebrate animals and/or human subjects in research as obtained through the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and Institutional Review Board (IRB), respectively.
  • The ability of students to implement the skills and knowledge developed in the Molecular Biosciences program in their careers will be assessed using and exit survey administered immediately after graduation and an alumni survey administered 3-5 years after graduation.

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