Mission Statement and Goals

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is to create new knowledge about the molecular sciences and to convey these discoveries, as well as the discoveries of other molecular scientists throughout history, to the scientific community, students, and the public.

Department Programs

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UM educates a significant number of undergraduates who have chosen from several degree programs and options in Chemistry and Biochemistry or who are pursuing degrees in majors for which chemistry is a related or foundational subject.  Degree programs and options offered by the Department are:

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (American Chemical Society Certified) – This degree is intended for students who desire a solid education in preparation for careers as a professional chemist or for graduate study in most areas of chemistry.
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Option in Environmental Chemistry - This degree option forms a solid base for students interested in careers in environmental chemistry and environmental science, or graduate studies in chemistry or environmental science.
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Option in Forensic Chemistry - This degree option forms a solid base for students interested in careers in forensic laboratories or advanced work in chemistry including graduate school.
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Option in Pharmacology - This degree option forms a solid base for students interested in careers in pharmacology or advanced work in chemistry including graduate school.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry – This program is intended for the student who desires less extensive training in the core of traditional preparation in chemistry with the latitude to supplement his or her program with courses that meet his or her specific needs e.g. in an interdisciplinary field or in the Teacher Preparation Program.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry -  This degree option forms a solid base for students interested in careers in biochemistry or advanced work in biochemistry including graduate school.  The degree also provides excellent preparation for careers and professional schools in the health professions.  The degree is managed and assessed by the Biochemistry Program.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry:  Health Professions Option – This degree option is also offered within the B.S. in Biochemistry for students whose career goals are in health professions fields related to biochemistry.  This option allows more flexibility in upper division electives, permitting students to tailor the degree to their needs.  The degree option is managed and assessed by the Biochemistry Program.

Outcomes and Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes

The courses and majors in chemistry or biochemistry provide training for students planning careers in the chemical sciences and also for those whose interests lie in biology, medicine, earth sciences, secondary education, business, and law.  A substantial fraction of the total UM undergraduate population will, at some stage of their degree program, take a course in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the curriculum is designed to satisfy the diverse needs of all these students.

Each chemistry graduate will have completed a rigorous program which includes foundational and in-depth course work in chemistry. The BS options emphasize laboratory experience and the development of professional skills. Advanced coursework and educational activities outside the traditional classroom, such as independent research, provide students the opportunity to conduct individual research projects or participate as a member of a research team.  Many undergraduate students also benefit from taking one or more advanced graduate courses in specific fields of chemistry.

At graduation, chemistry majors will have a set of fundamental competencies that are knowledge-based, performance/skills-based, and affective.

Knowledge-Based

All our graduates will be able to:

  1. Master a broad set of chemical knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the discipline (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical and bio- chemistry).
  2. Solve problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problem.  They will be able to rationally estimate the solution to a problem, apply appropriate techniques to arrive at a solution, test the correctness of the solution, and interpret their results.
  3. Use computers in data acquisition use available software as a tool in data processing and analysis.
  4. Employ modern library search tools to locate and retrieve scientific information about a topic, chemical, chemical technique, or an issue relating to chemistry.

Performance/Skills-Based

All our graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Understand the objective of their chemical experiments, properly carry out the experiments, and appropriately record and analyze the results. 
  2. Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments. 
  3. Know and follow the proper safety procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals. 
  4. Communicate the concepts and results of their laboratory experiments through effective written and oral communication skills. 

Affective

All graduates will be able to:

  1. Successfully pursue their career objectives in advanced education in professional and/or graduate schools, in a scientific career in government or industry, in a teaching career in the school systems, or in a related career following graduation. 

 
The relationship between the core curriculum and activities and student learning outcomes can be seen in Table 1.

The learning goals for program majors are communicated through the department website.  Learning goals and outcomes for each course offered by the department are expressly communicated on the syllabi for those courses.  Syllabi are reviewed and updated by faculty each time the course is taught.

Core Curriculum

The core curricula for each of the majors, including typical timelines for completion of the degrees and options, are presented in the UM Course Catalog.  The curricula include introductory and advanced courses in chemistry and biochemistry, as well as substantial requirements in mathematics, physics, and fields of study related to specific options.   Details regarding the content of these courses, admissions, degree requirements and academic policies can also be found in the UM Course Catalog.

Table 1:  Student learning outcomes addressed by core curriculum courses and activities.

 

 

Knowledge Outcomes

Skills Outcomes

Affective

Course

Title, Subject or Activity

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

CHMY 121/3

Intro. Gen. Org.  Bio- Chem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHMY 122/4

Intro. Gen. Org. Biochem lab

 

 

CHMY 141/3

College Chemistry with lab

 

 

CHMY 221-4

Org. Chemistry with lab

 

 

 

 

CHMY 302e

Chem Lit and Sci Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHMY 311

Quantitative Analysis w/lab

 

 

CHMY 360

Applied Physical Chemistry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHMY 371/3

Physical Chemistry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHMY 401/3

Adv. Inorganic Chem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHMY 402

Adv. Inorganic Chem lab

 

 

CHMY 421

Instrumental Analysis w/lab

 

 

CHMY 490

Undergraduate Research

 

 

CHMY 498

Internship

 

 

 

 

BCH 481/2

Biochemistry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced Electives

 

 

 

 

 

Academic Advising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Measures

The department has a Curriculum Committee with rotating membership comprised of faculty advisors for the various degree programs and options.  This committee collects and analyzes the data from assessment measures described below.  The committee summarizes the assessment data at the end of each academic year and reports the results to the Department. 

Assessment measures to be used by the Department are described below.  A summary showing the relationship between courses and assessment and evaluation methods can be seen in Table 2.

A. Student Feedback
All Chemistry and Biochemistry students receive academic advising from a Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty adviser at least once per semester. Faculty advisers query advisees to gather data regarding their reactions and insights regarding how well the program is meeting its learning objectives and where improvements in the program can be made.  Student insights and responses, especially where they are frequent and consistent, are communicated to the Curriculum Committee.  Advisors in other departments and programs whose students take Chemistry courses as part of their major are also invited to communicate student concerns to the curriculum committee.  Chemistry and Biochemistry advisors will also query graduating seniors as to their plans and career opportunities following graduation, and will communicate these findings to the Curriculum Committee.

B. Student Evaluations of Teaching
The Department of Chemistry collects student evaluations for each course. These data are compiled for review by the Department Chair and the Faculty Evaluation Committee.

C. Faculty Evaluation of Teaching and Learning

As part of each teaching assignment, faculty prepare and submit a short summary evaluation of the course including an evaluation of student achievement, a summary of changes made to the course and their perceived effectiveness, and recommendations for approaches or methods to improve outcomes in future offerings of the course.

D. External measures of program effectiveness
A range of external indicators provides excellent feedback to the Chemistry Department on the extent to which undergraduates are meeting program goals. For example, graduates continue to be in strong demand in a wide range of post-graduate professions in addition to being strongly recruited to high quality  Ph.D. programs, The ACS-Certified BS chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and students are encouraged to apply for ACS-certification.  Students in introductory and advanced chemistry courses complete standardized exams prepared by the ACS, and their scores in each field are compared to national norms.

E. Capstone Experiences
The cumulative nature of the chemistry degree programs provides an upward-oriented learning spiral that builds on itself as the student progresses from freshman to senior level. At the upper division level, advanced elective courses and research experiences give those students who choose them the opportunity to put much of this learning into practical use. Whether they get this experience in a research laboratory (receiving course credit — and a grade), or in upper division elective courses in physical, inorganic, organic, or analytical chemistry, each student can be evaluated on their ability to apply their accumulated knowledge and skills.

Table 2:  Assessment measures utilized for each core curriculum course.

Course

A. Student Feedback

B. Student Evaluations

C. Faculty Evaluation

D. ACS Exams

E. Capstone Performance

CHMY 121/3

 

 

CHMY 122/4

 

 

CHMY 141/3

 

CHMY 221-4

 

CHMY 302e

 

 

CHMY 311

 

CHMY 360

 

CHMY 371/3

 

CHMY 401/3

 

 

CHMY 402

 

 

CHMY 421

 

 

CHMY 490

 

 

 

CHMY 498

 

 

 

BCH 481/2

 

 

Electives

 

Program Evaluation and Improvement

The Department is proud of the goals established for the students in the program, and views the achievement of those goals as a collaboration of the faculty and students. At the same time the Department is cognizant of the continuing effort to be made to reevaluate and refine the goals of the department and their effective achievement as the practice of chemistry and biochemistry evolves.

The faculty advisers play a significant role in ensuring that each student successfully attains the program goals and learning outcomes.  The adviser discusses student interests, potential career paths, and advises the student on program option selection, course selection, and elective choices. Advisers review technical areas where students may experience difficulty. The adviser identifies areas of difficulty based on student grades in specific courses and by discussion with the students, and recommends elective courses and other resources (e.g., tutoring) as needed, to ensure students meet program objectives.

The Curriculum Committee, through review of current and historical assessment data, identifies areas of potential improvement in the curriculum, and includes recommendations in its report to the faculty and the Department Chair.  The Department, possibly with consultations with external bodies (alumni, industry, etc), decides upon and carries out any changes deemed necessary to implement potential improvements in the curriculum. The Department Chair prepares a report for the Office of the Provost using the data and report from the Curriculum Committee and summarizing assessment activities and outcomes as well as undertakings of the Department in response to assessment outcomes.