The Kenyon College Neuroscience Program is designed to provide rigorous training to students interested studying the brain and nervous system and to prepare them for successful postgraduate studies and careers in neuroscience and related disciplines
We seek to provide our students with a broad and deep understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the brain and nervous system; the ability to relate and understand how this system accomplishes the wide variety of behaviors across a broad range of species, with particular emphasis on human cognition and behavior. We emphasize the ability to closely read and understand primary literature, effectively design and implement original research, and to effectively communicate research results and other scientific ideas both orally and in writing.
We use our senior seminar (NEUR471) as one of our main assessment tools. All majors and concentrators are required to take this course. The course requires that students choose an area of research as their primary focus for the semester, to read the primary literature in that area, to critique published research in that area, and to write a grant proposal using NIH guidelines for an original research project in the selected area. Before writing the grant proposal (which is the final project), each student critiques a published research article both in writing and orally. The process begins when the student circulates an article to the faculty and students participating in the seminar along with a written copy of their detailed critique of that article. The other students who receive this critique must in turn write a written response to that critique; in other words, each student in turn reads the circulated article, the submitted critique of the article, and writes a critique of the submitted critique. These are all submitted to the professor for assessment and comment. The student who submitted the original article and critique then orally presents the article and their critique to the class. The presenter is expected to demonstrate significant expertise in the general research area by:
After every student has gone through the article critique process, the cycle begins again. However, in the second round, the students circulate their grant proposals. Again, all other students produce a written critique of the proposal, which they submit to the professor for comment. The student whose proposal is under review gives an oral presentation to the class and defends their ideas. They are usually questioned both by their colleagues and the faculty on every aspect of their proposal. This ranges from choice of subjects to statistical design to interpretation of the literature; all aspects are fair game. The professor produces a grade for all of these assignments by taking into consideration the student’s:
1. Knowledge of the field
2. Review and synthesis of the literature
3. Written expression
4. Critique of the literature
5. Ethics (particularly in research design)
6. Statistical and methodological knowledge
7. Writing skills
8. General scientific knowledge
9. Presentation skills, ability to answer questions, ability to defend ideas, ability to accept and
make use of criticism.
10. The assessment of the other students.
All graduation seniors are required to write a grant proposal following NIH guidelines for original research. The proposal is read by a committee of three Neuroscience Program faculty members and is graded based on many of the same criteria that are used for generating grades in the capstone seminar (NEUR471).
In the Neuroscience seminar (NEUR471) students who do not earn a grade of at least a B- on their grant proposal are required to rewrite it before the end of the semester. This is also true for neuroscience senior exercises where there are four possible grades: Pass, High Pass, Distinction, and Rewrite. Students whose performance is not equivalent to a B- or better are given a grade of Rewrite and must rewrite their senior exercise before they are allowed to graduate. These requirements allow the neuroscience faculty to ensure that students graduating from Kenyon with a neuroscience degree are capable of quality work based on the measures we employ.