Mission Statement & Department Learning Goals

Instruction in this department is intended to aid in the development of exact, concise and independent reasoning, to cultivate the imagination and to inspire habits of original and independent thought.

This statement, which has appeared in the St. Lawrence University course catalog every year since 1896, continues to aptly express the mission of the department today, even taking into consideration the remarkable advances in mathematical knowledge and technology that have been made since it was first penned.

The department offers both majors and minors in mathematics, computer science, and statistics. It serves students who subsequently pursue advanced academic degrees; enter law school, medical school, business school; or begin careers in education or finance, among other occupations.

Regardless, students enjoy a rich mathematical experience while at St. Lawrence, including excellent instruction by accessible faculty in a wide variety of courses, multiple opportunities to engage in and present research, participation in a thriving math club, and much more. 

A significant percentage of students at St. Lawrence choose to pursue a degree in the department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics.  The department honors its most outstanding students each year with the annual Bates Award.  Follow the link below to learn more about this prestigious award and to see recent award recipients.

Our department encompasses the three distinct disciplines of mathematics, computer science, and statistics, but many of our most important learning goals are shared across all three disciplines. In this document, we first identify those learning goals that are shared by all three disciplines, then include further learning goals that are more discipline-specific. Finally, since we teach a large number of students who are not majors or minors in our department, we include learning goals
specifically for non-majors.

Learning goals for all majors, combined majors, and minors

Understanding and appreciation of theory
   • Know how to think analytically and logically
   • Be able to construct a valid argument
   • Understand the logical structure of the discipline
   • Appreciate the importance and beauty of the discipline

Solid analytical and computational skills
   • Have a solid foundation in the knowledge, techniques, and concepts of the discipline
   • Have strong computational skills embedded within deep conceptual understanding
   • Proficiency in communication
   • Be able to read independently and to understand results within the discipline
   • Be proficient writers in the discipline, both in writing formal proofs and in writing interpretations
      and explanations of results
   • Be an effective oral presenter
   • Be able to use technology effectively in the presentation of results

Problem solving ability and understanding of applications
   • Be diligent and proficient problem-solvers
   • Understand what technology can and cannot do and be able to use technology effectively in
      problem solving
   • Have an understanding of the significant applications of the discipline to other fields
      Student agency
   • Be willing to attack a difficult problem in multiple ways over an extended period of time
   • Be able to effectively work cooperatively with others on problems within the discipline
   • Be able to effectively work independently on problems within the discipline
   • Acquire proficiency in communication, analytical thinking, and other areas that lead to success
      in one’s professional life
   • Develop curiosity and a questioning mind
   • Develop maturity and responsibility for one’s own learning

Additional discipline-specific Learning goals

Majors, combined majors, and minors in mathematics
   • Have a working knowledge of the sets, spaces, functions, and operations that are central
      to mathematics
   • Develop fluency to articulate mathematical ideas using the symbolic language of math
   • Be able to mathematically model a real situation and to analyze the results appropriately
   • Recognize the breadth of sub-disciplines within the mathematical sciences and have a sense of
      how they interrelate

Majors, combined majors, and minors in computer science
   • Have understanding of multiple programming paradigms
   • Develop a basic understanding of concurrent systems
   • Be able to design and construct non-trivial software systems including the use of modern tools,
      specification, and testing
   • Apply problem solving techniques to develop algorithmic solutions
   • Have strong debugging skills
   • Appreciate the mathematical underpinnings of computer science

Majors, combined majors, and minors in applied statistics
   • Understand the basic principles underlying statistical inference
   • Be able to apply statistical techniques to address real questions with data
   • Appreciate the importance of proper data collection
   • Be competent at working with univariate and multivariate models using quantitative
      and categorical data
   • Be able to use statistical software to select appropriate models, estimate model parameters,
      generate graphical displays, check diagnostic conditions, and perform inferences

Learning goals for non-majors in departmental courses:

All students who take a course in our department should be able to
   • Investigate and answer significant questions using mathematics, computer science, or statistics,
      and be able to clearly interpret the results
   • Develop proficiency and understanding of the ideas taught in our courses sufficiently
      to apply the methods and ideas effectively in other courses and other situations
   • Appreciate both the beauty and the importance of the discipline