Department Learning Goals

Goals and Learning Objectives for the Physics Major

1. Graduating physics majors will be prepared for graduate work in the sciences and engineering, or a wide variety of careers in teaching, industry, or public service.

Students will be prepared to...

  • apply their physical reasoning and analytic skills to tackle complex problems in a variety of academic, research, and innovative work environments; and alternative careers;
  • synthesize  and apply sophisticated mathematical and physical models to complex, real-world problems;
  • apply knowledge and skills gained in the physics major toward broader goals, including social issues, environmental concerns, and daily problems;
  • engage in self-directed learning by consulting the necessary resources and building knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses. 
  • know when and how to quickly address challenging questions.
  • Be a strong, confident physics major who embarks in the world and can apply their analytical skills to quickly address questions when appropriate and think deeply and at length when needed.

2. Physics majors will develop strong problem solving skills.

Students will...

  • be able to plan an effective approach to challenging problems;
  • use proportional, conceptual, analytical, numerical, computational, and qualitative reasoning, distinguishing when each is appropriate
  • learn to critically evaluate their assumptions, methodology and results, and to revise their approach as needed;
  • develop cooperative group problem solving skills, engaging in effective communication, planning and evaluation;
  • develop confidence and skills to independently solve complex problems;
  • develop the metacognitive skills required to engage in self-assessment of their own strategies and approaches.

3. Physics majors will develop strong technical skills.

Students will…

  • develop strong mathematical skills required to address technical scientific problems;
  • gain hands-on experimental skills, including common methodology, experimental design, troubleshooting, analysis, and interpretation;
  • acquire computational skills, including numerical methods, implementation of models, visualization of results, and analysis of data sets;
  • understand how to read, interpret, and evaluate technical articles, and how to perform literature searches.

4. Physics majors will develop strong communication skills.

Students will…

  • clearly articulate complex technical ideas in speech in preparation for both formal and informal scientific settings;
  • clearly articulate complex technical ideas in writing in preparation for both formal and informal scientific settings;
  • be able to explain complex science to the general public;
  • communicate effectively in collaborative group settings;
  • effectively ask and respond to questions with confidence. 

5. Physics majors will develop an appreciation for how physics and science enriches their experience of the world.

Students will…

  • understand the technical role of science in the modern world; for example, applications of scientific reasoning to policy decisions, technological innovations, etc.;
  • consider the complex intersection of science and culture, including public opinion, power structures, and changing norms;
  • appreciate how science progresses as an evolving, self-correcting process;
  • specifically, appreciate the historical and philosophical developments in physics;
  • develop an appreciation of physics as a discipline that develops quantitative models, based on foundational principles, resulting in specific predictions to be tested by experiment, to describe the world;
  • appreciate the relationship of physics to the other sciences, and the interdisciplinary nature of modern challenges.