The Kenyon College Neuroscience Department is committed to providing rigorous training to students interested in studying the nervous system and to prepare them for successful postgraduate studies and careers in neuroscience and related disciplines. We also strive to provide the general student population with some understanding of neuroscience as it is an interdisciplinary field that plays an increasingly important role in the sciences, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences.
Our curriculum seeks to provide our students with a broad and deep understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system that gives rise to a vast array of complex sensations, perceptions, cognitions, and motor behaviors. Though we place particular emphasis on human behavior and cognition, many of our courses explore similarities and differences in non-human animals.
We emphasize the ability to:
We use our senior seminar (NEUR 471) and our senior capstone exercise as our primary assessment tools. All neuroscience majors and concentrators are required to take the senior seminar. The course requires that students produce both an original research proposal and an integrative paper for popular communication in our department’s neuroscience magazine.
Students in the course choose an area of research as their primary focus for the semester. They read, synthesize, and critique the primary literature in their area. They then write and review an original grant proposal that includes background, rationale, and at least two original and independent experiments (aims).
Following the grant proposal, each student produces a broad integrative paper explicitly written for public consumption in the style of a popular science magazine (e.g., Scientific American). Ideally, the article topic is connected to the research proposal so that students gain experience discussing scientific research both in depth and in breadth.
In addition to the two major assignments described above, all graduating senior neuroscience majors use the research proposal developed in the senior seminar to write a grant proposal following NSF-GRFP guidelines for original research as their senior capstone exercise. This proposal is read by two Neuroscience Department faculty members and is graded based on many of the same criteria that are used for generating grades in the senior seminar (NEUR 471).
There are three possible grades for the senior capstone exercise: Distinction, Pass, and Conditional Pass (i.e., Rewrite). Students whose performance does not meet the department’s standards are given a grade of Conditional Pass (i.e., Rewrite) and must amend their senior capstone exercise to address the issues raised by the faculty readers before they are allowed to graduate.
In these assignments, students should demonstrate competency vis-a-vis:
The performance measures from the senior seminar and the senior capstone exercise are discussed by the neuroscience faculty at the spring Outcomes Assessment meeting. These data, as well as long-term enrollment trends in our courses and post-graduation outcomes for our alumni, help guide our course offerings and allow the neuroscience faculty to assess whether we need to consider changes in our curriculum or pedagogy and they allow us to ensure that students graduating from Kenyon with a neuroscience degree are capable of quality work.
Revised: November, 2019