Dean: Travis Thompson, Ph.D.
The College reflects the University’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences through its involvement in interdepartmental and preprofessional programs and the Liberal Arts Program required of all students.
The College of Sciences comprises eight academic departments:
Several shared interdisciplinary majors are offered within the College of Sciences, including:
A Medical Humanities major is offered as a collaboration between the College of Arts & Humanities and the College of Science, providing students opportunities to pursue diverse career paths in both the humanities and sciences in careers such as medicine, health care policy, law, public health, management, patient advocacy, health journalism, bioethics, and health care consulting, as well as in academic careers in teaching, writing, and researching in universities in narrative medicine, literature and health, or history and medicine. Rather than limiting the student to a single focus, this interdisciplinary study allows for room to create a career path specific to the desires of the individual while laying a foundation for advanced degrees.
A Medical Humanities minor is also offered.
THEORETICAL FOUNDATION OF SCIENCE INSTRUCTION
Instruction in the college of sciences at Harding University is informed by the educational theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. There are many theories available, but the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky have withstood the “test of time” and have been thoroughly vetted and used as a basis in educational research in the past and the present.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development posits the development of abstract thought, cultivating the ability to think logically and utilize metacognition. Once new knowledge is constructed, the student creates more complex objects resulting in more complex actions. Piaget’s theory allows teachers to view students as individual learners who add new concepts to prior knowledge in order to build understanding for themselves.
Lev Vygotsky further developed some of Piaget’s theories via his Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The Zone of Proximal Development is essentially the difference between what a learner can do without help and what can be done with help. Vygotsky suggested that the acquisition of new knowledge is dependent on previous learning as well as the availability of instruction. With the assistance of a capable teacher, a student can learn skills that go beyond current abilities. In essence, the student follows the teacher’s example (model) and gradually develops the ability to do certain tasks without help. Vygotsky’s concept of “scaffolding” is of fundamental importance in the sciences.
These theories support the practices in the college of sciences which include:
- Sequential courses, with each course dependent upon acquired skills from a previous course.
- Senior seminar experiences which require a professional presentation on a topic that is developed outside of the normal curriculum with the assistance of a mentor.
- Laboratory experiences that, with guidance, lead the student to new knowledge or a reinforcement of classroom material.
- Emphasis upon the integration of knowledge acquired across the curriculum - both science and non-science classes.
- Modeling the inquisitive nature of mathematics and science with the scientific method and inductive/deductive reasoning.
With over 30 majors available in the college of sciences, the following student learning outcomes are expected of all students regardless of major.
- The student will develop and use critical thinking skills.
- The student will know the history and development of the discipline.
- The student will know how the discipline relates to the modern world.
- The student will know how the discipline relates to and (supports/is supported by) other disciplines.
- The student will be able to demonstrate sufficient mastery of knowledge by passing (or achieving at the 60th percentile on) nationally normed exams (if available).