Department Learning Outcomes

The Physics Department seeks to maintain a rigorous undergraduate curriculum for its majors, with sufficient depth and breadth to provide for two possible degrees, the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.  The physics curriculum for majors is designed according to two principles.  The first is that there is certain training required of every physicist: education that should include an introduction to a wide range of physical phenomena, experimental investigation, and scientific thinking.  Further, this training should be at a level of sophistication to provide physics graduates with the ability to begin graduate work in physics.  The second principle recognizes that people major in physics for different reasons, and a physics curriculum should have the flexibility, clarity, and effectiveness necessary to accommodate a variety of interests.    These principles are reflected in the Physics Department's required core of studies and in its collection of elective physics courses.

The Department is also committed to providing a sound preparation for students who wish to earn an engineering B.S. degree, specifically through participation in the Dual-Degree Engineering Program: after successfully completing the required three-year curriculum at Gettysburg College, a student is prepared to compete with other students of engineering at our affiliated institutions: Columbia University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

The Department strives to introduce an understanding and appreciation of the elegance and potential of natural science to non-science majors, as well, accomplishing this goal by offering attractive laboratory science courses for those students wishing to satisfy the College's Multiple Inquiries requirement and/or their curiosity about the physical world.   With this in mind the Physics Department believes that service to all students at Gettysburg College, as well as community outreach, and faculty development and encouragement, is essential.

Gettysburg College Physics Learning Outcomes

  1. Major (BA,BS)
    Students will demonstrate:
    1. Problem solving competence , including:
      1. Solve real-world problems through idealizations and estimation.
      2. Mathematically modeling the real world starting from fundamental physical principles.
      3. Using computational techniques, including familiarity with basic computer programs, to solve complex problems numerically.
    2. Laboratory competence, including:
      1. Setting up and using a range of equipment to obtain experimental data and critically analyzing this data.
      2. Quantitatively determining error in an experiment and using this to assess agreement with a specific theory or set of hypotheses.
      3. Understanding and/or creating graphical representations of data.
    3. Broad understanding in basic (“freshman”) physics, including:
      1. Mechanics: Conservation laws and basic Newtonian physics
      2. Electricity and Magnetism: Electrostatics and basic magnetostatics
      3. Statistical Mechanics: Basic calorimetry, the ideal gas law, and the laws of thermodynamics
      4. Modern Physics: Relativity, the Bohr Atom, and basic quantum phenomena and quantum “weirdness”
    4. An understanding of the content of a broad distribution of physics knowledge at the upper level, including:
      1. An in-depth knowledge at the upper level of at least one of the four major subdisciplines (Mechanics, E&M, Quantum, & Statistical Mechanics).
    5. Effective oral and written communication skills, including:
      1. Communicating basic scientific knowledge and the scientific process to a general audience through writing
      2. Verbally communicating basic scientific knowledge and the scientific process to a general audience
      3. Presenting research work verbally in a style in accordance with scientific norms
      4. Presenting research work in writing in a style in accordance with scientific norms
      5. Locating and gaining some understanding from primary literature in physics
  2. Minor
    Students will demonstrate

    1. Problem solving competence, including:
      1. Solving real-world problems through idealizations and estimation.
    2. Laboratory competence, including:
      1. Using a range of equipment to obtain experimental data.
      2. Quantitatively determining error in an experiment and to use this to assess agreement with a specific theory or set of hypotheses.
    3. Broad understanding in basic (“freshman”) physics, including:
      1. Mechanics: Conservation laws and basic Newtonian physics
      2. Electricity and Magnetism: Electrostatics and basic magnetostatics
      3. Statistical Mechanics: Basic calorimetry, the ideal gas law, and the laws of thermodynamics
      4. Modern Physics: Relativity, the Bohr Atom, and basic quantum phenomena and quantum “weirdness”
    4. A familiarity with the content of multiple disciplines or sub-disciplines of physics at the upper level
    5. Effective oral and written communication skills , including:
      1. Communicating basic scientific knowledge and the scientific process to a general audience through writing
      2. Verbally communicating basic scientific knowledge and the scientific process to a general audience