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Arts and Sciences Learning Objectives


The Biopsychology major focuses on the inter-relationship between physiological and psychological systems. The primary objectives of this discipline are to provide a deeper understanding of how physiology influences behavior, and how behavior and experience affect physiology. The main goal of the major is to prepare undergraduate students to ask and answer science-based questions about human and animal behavior by introducing students to the data, theories, and research methods from the fields of biology and psychology.

Core Competencies

Upon completing the bio-psychology major, students will:

  1. Be able to generate and to analyze data, to organize it for presentation, and to draw appropriate conclusions based on trends supported by statistics, and to formulate new questions based on findings.
  2. Be able to apply theoretical models of behavior and thought to real life settings and skills (e.g., clinical, educational, organizational context.)
  3. Be able to find and understand primary literature pertinent to a given topic in biological or psychological sciences, to examine and interpret data presented in figures and tables, and to evaluate conclusions based on the data presented.
  4. Be able to understand techniques and methods described in current literature, or to investigate such methods through scholarly publications.
  5. Be able to perform standard laboratory techniques accurately and safely.
  6. Be able to access and utilize pertinent large databases.
  7. Be able to report experimental results in a standard written format and to write coherently and persuasively about conclusions from such results and their significance.
  8. Be able to communicate scientific results, and to support their significance and relation to the current framework of understanding.
  9. Be able to pursue scientific inquiry through formulating hypotheses, designing controlled experiments or studies, gathering or generating data, and analyzing and evaluating results.
  10. Be able to make connections between concepts in biology and psychology and the foundations of physical sciences and computational methods.
  11. Be mindful of ethical considerations and societal outcomes in research and in technological advancement and be familiar with the American Psychological Association (APA) ethics guidelines, including the process of submitting research proposals to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC.)

Knowledge Base

  1. An understanding of the major paradigms in biology, including evolution, cell theory, genetic inheritance, and the central dogma.
  2. An understanding of core psychological concepts and processes such as evidence, hypothetical constructs, operational definitions, and inferences.
  3. An understanding that behavioral traits can be explored on four, mutually-illuminating levels of analysis.
  4. An understanding of the relationship between genotype and phenotype.
  5. An understanding of the information flow between DNA, RNA, and proteins, and a basic knowledge of the processes that govern cellular function and division.
  6. An understanding of the processes through which evolution occurs, and an understanding that selection acts on multiple stages in the life cycle.
  7. An understanding of the dynamic nature of organismal development from inception through growth and differentiation, aging and death.
  8. Knowledge of how Biopsychologists use empirical methods to understand the physiological bases of how individuals behave, and how people think, feel and act.
  9. An appreciation of the morphological, physiological, ecological, and behavioral diversity of life, and the importance of that diversity.
  10. An understanding that biological processes are based on chemical and physical principles, and that biology informs medicine, community health, and environmental policy.
  11. A solid knowledge of the brain, including the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and neurochemical processes that are important in behavior and cognition. In addition, an understanding of how problems in brain function may underlie maladaptive behaviors and mental disorders.
  12. An appreciation of the inseparable nature of the brain and the mind.

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