Chemistry B.S. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

Chemistry is an experimental science. The predictive capability and therefore the utility of chemistry is based upon an enormous body of observations and deductions. The science of chemistry represents a comprehensive model for the nature and behavior of macroscopic chemical, physical, and biological systems that can be explained by microscopic atomic and molecular structure and interactions. Fundamental chemical concepts are formulated in pure mathematics and physics, but these concepts must survive tests of quantitative measurement. Application of chemical knowledge is frequently a province of high specialization, of technological sophistication, and of healthy scientific contention regarding new interpretations and observations. However, chemists involved in either applied chemistry or in research and development in all areas share an extensive core set of skills, standardized terminology, and a body of experimentally confirmed factual knowledge. The curriculum of the baccalaureate degree program of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nevada provides students with both a broad liberal arts background and the specialized knowledge and skills in Chemistry needed to embark on a career as a chemist in the public or private sectors, to continue in graduate studies in chemistry, to pursue one of the medical professions, or to become an educator. Chemistry majors will graduate with a comprehensive set of knowledge and skills in the disciplines of chemistry, including organic, inorganic, physical, and analytical chemistry, and with basic knowledge and skills in physics and mathematics. A core set of chemistry courses provides fundamental knowledge and experimental training in the various disciplines. These are augmented by advanced courses suitable for preparation for graduate study or for specialization in environmental chemistry. The experimental nature of the science of chemistry is emphasized in laboratory experiences. Training in operational skills - how to do chemistry - is provided in laboratory courses at every level of instruction. Skills in scientific communication, chemical information retrieval, and modern computation are also incorporated at all stages. The opportunity for involvement in undergraduate research allows exposure to the frontiers of chemistry research and close interaction with a faculty member.

The Professional Chemistry Emphasis is designed for students who are interested in a career as a chemist in industry or government, or in graduate school in chemistry or related areas. The Environmental Chemistry Emphasis is designed for those interested in a concentration on environmental chemistry, including advanced analytical methods and toxicology. These two Emphases have been approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS) as satisfying rigorous national standards. The Pre-medical Empasis is tailored specially for students who are planning to continue to medical school, dental school, or other medical professional schools. The General Emphasis is for students who are planning careers in the chemical industry, teaching, agriculture, environmental science, or health sciences. This emphasis offers more course flexibility than the other emphases, to accommodate tracks like double majors, and to enable the student to pursue special areas of interest.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Chemical knowledge

  • (a) Graduates will possess a broad spectrum of factual chemical knowledge concerning naming and chemical and physical properties of substances.
  • (b) Graduates will possess a thorough knowledge of basic principles of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical reactions and stoichiometry, and the chemical and physical properties of substances.
  • (c) Graduates will possess a thorough knowledge of the subfields of chemistry, including analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry.
  • (d) Graduates will possess cognitive skills in areas such as mathematics and physics to facilitate the understanding and manipulation of fundamental chemical theories.
Student Performance Indicators
  • ACS standardized exam in General Chemistry
  • ACS standardized exam in Organic Chemistry
  • ACS standardized exams in Physical Chemistry
  • ACS standardized exam in Inorganic Chemistry
Assessment Method
  • Exam administered at the end of CHEM 202. Results compared to national norms.
  • Exam administered at the end of CHEM 348 (second semester organic chemistry laboratory). Results compared to national norms.
  • Exam administered in CHEM 421 and 422 (Physical Chemistry I & II). Results compared to national norms.
  • Exam administered in CHEM 431 (Inorganic Chemistry). Results compared to national norms.

2. Quantitative reasoning skills

  • (a) Graduates will possess an understanding of and the ability to apply the scientific method (formulating hypotheses and arriving at logically supported answers and conclusions).
  • (b) Graduates will have a practical understanding of applied mathematics, including algebra, geometry, differential and integral calculus, and topics in differential equations, matrix theory, and probability theory.
  • (c) Graduates will possess the ability to competently solve problems including the concepts of extrapolation, approximation, precision, accuracy, rational estimation, and statistical validity.
  • (d) Graduates will possess the ability to evaluate and interpret chemical, numerical, and general scientific information.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Final exams in CHEM 201 & 202, 330, 341 & 342; 421 & 422, 431, 435; 442, 450.
  • Problem sets in advanced courses CHEM 341, 342, 421, 422, 431
  • Student tracking/performance data in CHEM 341, 342, 421, 422, 431.
Assessment Method
  • Final exams from all instructors reviewed by the Assessment Committee on the five-year cycle for problem-solving and quantitative difficulty including various reasoning, problem-solving, and mathematical skill (rather than knowledge or content areas), as appropriate for the course level
  • A representative portfolio of problem sets for each course reviewed by the Assessment Committee on five-year cycle (as above).
  • Individual student learning outcomes assessed by faculty via a survey instrument and correlated with grades in prerequisite courses.

3. Experimental skills

  • (a) Graduates will possess the ability to perform accurate quantitative measurements, interpret experimental results, perform calculations on these results and draw appropriate and accurate conclusions.
  • (b) Graduates will possess the ability to synthesize, separate, and characterize compounds using published methods, safe laboratory protocols, standard laboratory equipment, and modern instrumentation.
  • (c) Graduates will possess an understanding of the theory and use of modern chemical instrumentation.
  • (d) Graduates will be able to design and perform effective laboratory experiments, to gather and analyze data, and to test hypotheses.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Laboratory skills (CHEM 347, 348, 432, 435, 423, 444, 455)
  • Safety training completion (in lab courses and EH&S safety course for undergraduate research students)
Assessment Method
  • A representative portfolio of laboratory reports in upper-level lab courses reviewed for learning outcomes by the Assessment Committee on a five-year-cycle
  • Certification of completion of safety training (on-line quiz instrument) required for each lab course and for Senior Thesis

4. Communication and information skills

  • (a) Graduates will be proficient in the oral and written communication of their scientific work and ideas.
  • (b) Graduates will possess the ability to make effective use of information resources, including (i) finding chemical information utilizing the primary literature, both in a traditional library and in electronic indexes and journals, (ii) critically evaluating chemical information, (iii) finding and evaluating chemical information utilizing secondary sources such as electronic databases.
  • (c) Graduates will be proficient in the use of computers, modern computer software, and computer-based information systems, including (i) using a computer as a tool in technical writing, drawing chemical structures, and presenting data to effectively communicate scientific information, (ii) having a familiarity with the application of computational chemistry in the modeling and simulation of chemical phenomena, and (iii) having an appreciation of the applications of computers in data acquisition and processing.
  • (d) Graduates will have a thorough understanding and appreciation of scientific and academic ethics, including such issues as avoidance of plagiarism, responsibility for scientific accuracy, documentation of experimental results, and protection of intellectual property.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Unknowns laboratory report in CHEM 348.
  • CHEM 423 Physical Chemistry Laboratory long reports.
  • Senior Theses
  • Ethics quizzes in Freshman Year Experience course (SCI 110) and for Senior Thesis.
Assessment Method
  • Scored using a rubric for written scientific reports.
  • Scored using a rubric for written scientific reports. Compared with previous rubric score in CHEM 348 for individual students.
  • Scored using a rubric for written scientific reports. Compared with previous rubric scores in CHEM 348 and 423 for individual students. Copies of all senior theses are filed by the department office.
  • Certification of completion of ethics training required (on-line quiz instrument).

5. Professional and career success

  • (a) Graduates will be successful in their professional careers as demonstrated by their abilities to solve important chemistry problems, to solve problems in areas different from their training, and to develop new and valuable ideas.
  • (b) Graduates will be able to work in a variety of professional environments as demonstrated by the abilities to work both in teams and independently, to provide project leadership, to mentor junior co-workers, and to communicate scientific results effectively to the chemistry community and the public.
  • (c) Graduates will possess professional character as demonstrated by their ethical behavior, their pursuit of continuing education and involvement in professional associations, and their commitment to safety and protection of the environment.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Post-graduation employment or graduate school placement
  • Career employment and salary data
  • Job performance
Assessment Method
  • Exit interview, compared with national trends.
  • Alumni survey. Data compared with annual ACS salary survey of all chemists, by employment type.
  • Employer Surveys.