Investigating the Natural World

Investigating the Natural World (7 hours required including a 1-hour laboratory accompanying a 3-hour course)

These courses introduce students to natural sciences in the modern world.  Both lecture and laboratory courses focus on how science is conducted and how scientific knowledge advances in individual fields.  Students in these courses will understand the process by which scientists gain knowledge about objects, phenomena, the laws of nature, and the laws of the physical world.  Natural sciences study the physical world and its phenomena.

Learning Objectives (Fall 2014)

A student who has completed the requirements of the Investigating the Natural World Area of Inquiry (two lecture courses and one accompanying lab) will be able to:

  • Identify the methods of inquiry that lead to scientific knowledge;
  • Distinguish science from pseudo-science;    
  • Make predictions about natural phenomena using theories and models as unifying principles;
  • Analyze and interpret data in a graphical, symbolic, and/or numeric format; and
  • Discriminate between association and causation, and identify the types of evidence used to establish causation.

Accomplishing the Objectives

Instructors should clearly identify how the course will accomplish the above objectives. Possibilities include:

  • Participating in class discussion and debate
  • Engaging in teamwork and other collaborative exercises
  • Writing analytical or evaluative papers, perhaps incorporating original research
  • Making oral presentations
  • Performing laboratory experiments
  • Conducting data analyses
  • Participating in field work