Critical Issues in Education: Teaching Undergraduates Mathematics
Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
May 11, 2009 - May 13, 2009
Beyond NRC's Bio 2010: Linking Mathematical and Biology
Reports like the NRC’s Bio 2010 and Microsoft’s Towards Science 2020 have changed the landscape of discussion about the reform of undergraduate biology education. Funding organizations like NSF and HHMI have responded by issuing RFP’s that reflect the recommendations of these reports and some significant grants have been awarded.
Nonetheless, few biology programs are making revolutionary changes.
Despite major changes on research fronts of biology, education suffers from both resistance and neglect. What will it take to make significant change? While we might not be able to change some socio-cultural-institutional traditions that do not professionally and financially reward educational scholarship, we as mathematical
biologists can catalyze change by developing curricular materials, sharing an interdisciplinary language, and providing professional opportunities for biology and mathematics educators to convene. The data avalanche of contemporary high-throughput biology has challenged
the traditional methods of biological inference construction because multidimensional visualization, simultaneous consideration of multiple variables, and multi-disciplinary analyses are required. While mathematics has played exceptionally important roles throughout the
history of biology, too frequently it has been unappreciated in biology curricula because textbook authors, and many of the professors who adopt them, assume that biology students have an inadequate mathematical preparation. Recently, computer science and mathematics
have completely transformed the practice of biology. Thus, the neglect of both in practice deskills many biology, computer science, and mathematics students, misrepresents contemporary biological research to them, and doesn’t prepare them to collaborate on significant
problems. I will share successful initiatives in learning through quantitative problem solving by the BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium (), in teaching calculus such as by Project CALC, in teaching computational science such as by NCSI and the Shodor Foundation, in teaching chemistry such as by ChemLinks, and in teaching physics such as by Workshop Physics. Each of these curricular reform initiatives has generated a great deal of relevant materials.
These reform efforts have empowered thousands of American
undergraduates to become proficient in the use of wet labs, field work investigations, case studies, and software packages that could be used to explore the behavior of many famous mathematical models in biology, collect and mine complex data sets, and evaluate their hypotheses with
multidimensional visualizations. When the NRC and Microsoft
recommendations are examined in light of current research and available resources, numerous progressive alternatives exist for proceeding to develop curricula that address these challenges.
|Host Organization's Web Site:
BioQUEST Staff Attending:
Copyright ©1988-2015 BioQUEST, Inc.
Madison, WI 53744 (608) 363-2012
All Rights Reserved.