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Scientific Reasoning Competency 2003-2004

Assessment Plans


Standards and Definition

College of Arts & Sciences, Schools of Architecture, Commerce, and Education

The University of Virginia expects graduates of its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Architecture, School of Commerce, and School of Education to have and to understand basic knowledge and skills about scientific reasoning in order to use it effectively and productively for their own purposes. Specifically, the University expects these graduates to be able to use scientific reasoning to denote consistent, logical thought patterns which are employed during the process of scientific inquiry that enable individuals to propose relationships between observed phenomena in order to accomplish the following:

  1. Design experiments which test hypotheses concerning the proposed relationships.
  2. Determine possible alternatives and outcomes.
  3. Consider probabilities of occurrences.
  4. Predict logical consequences.
  5. Weight evidence, or proof.
  6. Use a number of instances to justify a particular conclusion.


The University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) expects each of its graduates to have mastered essential fundamental knowledge in the chemical sciences and in calculus-based physics. These two areas provide the science base upon which engineering science and applications are built.

I. In the chemical sciences, the SEAS expects each of its graduates to have mastered the following seven chemical concepts and to be able to demonstrate competency in appropriate problem solving skills related to these seven concepts:

  1. Atoms, Elements and Compounds: Chemical formulae. Avogadro's Number. Calculations of atomic, mole, and mass percent.
  2. Chemical Reactions: Stoichiometry & balancing of chemical reactions, Calculation of reaction yield and identification of limiting reactants.
  3. Solution Chemistry Concepts: Ions, electrolytic solutions hydration. Acids, bases, and pH. Neutralization and equivalency. Balance oxidation/reduction reactions.
  4. Energy Considerations: Concepts of enthalpy, entropy , Gibbs free energy and equilibrium. Use LeChatelier's Principle to determine direction of reaction.
  5. Electronic Structure of Atoms. Definition of Bohr Atom Model and its limitations. Quantum theory and spectroscopy. Identification of trends in properties of elements in the Periodic Table.
  6. Electronic Structure of Molecules: Construct Lewis structures of atoms and molecules. Electronegativity. Identify geometries of simple molecules. Hybridization and molecular orbital concepts. Relationship between reaction enthalpy and chemical bond energies.
  7. Intermolecular Interactions: Liquids, solids and the basis of molecular recognition.

II. In calculus based physics, the SEAS expects each of its graduates to have mastered the following nine concepts and to be able to set up problems from first principles, arrange the proper force or circuit diagrams as needed, and obtain a solution:

  1. Forces: Newton's laws of motion, gravitation.
  2. Work, energy, momentum and their conservation laws.
  3. Rotational motion including torque and angular momentum.
  4. Simple harmonic motion and waves.
  5. Thermodynamics and microscopic properties of gases.
  6. Electrostatics and electric currents.
  7. Magnetic fields and their applications.
  8. Capacitors, inductors, AC circuit equations and oscillations.
  9. Optics


The University of Virginia's School of Nursing proposes to assess its students' knowledge and skills in the areas of scientific and quantitative reasoning together because both are very closely related in the curriculum of the School. The School of Nursing expects its graduates to have mastered essential fundamental knowledge in scientific and quantitative reasoning in preparatory coursework and in clinical application of professional nursing practice. Specifically, the School of Nursing expects its graduates to know and be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Apply statistics to evaluate current literature.
  2. Apply quantitative reasoning to evaluate epidemiologic and genetic risk analysis.
  3. Apply scientific and quantitative reasoning to the analysis of graphs (example dissociation curves, risk curves).
  4. Use complex mathematical formulas (ex. fluid and electrolyte and acid base problems, arterial blood gas interpretation).
  5. Interpret tables of physiologic and pathophysiologic data.
  6. Use scientific reasoning to interpret complex pathophysiologic processes and deduce how these processes will be manifested clinically.
  7. Use practical mathematics to calculate and verify medication dosages.
  8. Use practical mathematics for weight based protocols for children.
  9. Use practical mathematics to determine IV titration and administration pump programming.
  10. Use practical mathematics to implement and verify anticoagulant and insulin protocols.
  11. Use practical mathematics to determine Vasopressor drips.
  12. Use practical mathematics on drug calculations prior to administering them in the clinical area.