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Natural Scientific Investigation


The tools of scientific inquiry allow us to explore and understand our natural world. And whether you become a biologist, or chemist, or poet, or journalist science will impact your life. Learn how to make and test hypotheses, collect and interpret data, and communicate and defend your conclusions. Examine the rules that govern science and test the limits of our ability to investigate them.

Learning Outcomes

These are the learning outcomes that are expected of students after completing a course.


Demonstrate the ability to use scientific knowledge, logic, and imagination to construct and justify scientific claims about naturally occurring phenomena, including validation through rigorous empirical testing.


Analyze and apply processes of scientific inquiry as dictated by the phenomena and questions at hand. These include generating and testing hypotheses or theories pertaining to the natural world; using logic and creativity to design investigations to test these hypotheses; collecting and interpreting data about the natural world; making inferences that respect measurement error; building and justifying arguments and explanations; communicating and defending conclusions; revising arguments and conclusions based on new evidence and/or feedback from peers; and synthesizing new knowledge into broader scientific understanding.


Evaluate science-related claims and information from popular and/or peer-reviewed sources by examining the relationship between the evidence, arguments, and conclusions presented and by assessing consistency with existing knowledge from valid and reliable scientific sources.


Identify, assess, and make informed decisions about ethical issues at the intersections of the natural sciences and society.

Questions for Students

These are the types of questions you should be able to answer after completing a course.


What rules govern the natural world and how are they discovered, tested, and validated?


What is distinctive about the approach to understanding employed in the natural sciences?


What challenges are encountered in making measurements of the natural world?


What are the limits of investigation in the natural sciences?

Recurring Capacities

Every focus capacity course includes the following activities:


Writing, totaling at least 10 pages in length or the intellectual equivalent


Presenting material to the class, smaller groups, or the public through oral presentations, webpages, or other means


Collaborating in pairs or groups to learn, design, solve, create, build, or research

These elements – referred to as “recurring capacities” – will help you repeatedly practice crucial skills for future study, life, and career success.

Course Offerings

There are a wide range of courses you can take to meet the Natural Scientific Investigation focus capacity requirement. Here are a few examples:

ANTH 148

LING 200

Faculty Resources

Any department may offer classes that fulfill any focus capacity as long as they meet the learning outcomes for that capacity.

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