aptation of assessment materials, and the dissemination of effective assessment practices through workshops and web-based learning. The Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program attempts to improve STEM education through changes in learning environments, course content, curricula, and educational practices. The program has three tracks. First, Educational Material Development focuses on producing new, innovative materials, such as textbooks, that incorporate effective learning practices in order to enhance student comprehension in STEM. Second, the National Dissemination project seeks to provide faculty members with development opportunities, such as workshops, in order to implement effective educational practices as well as improve the quality of their teaching. Finally, adaptation and implementation projects aim to improve STEM education by implementing previously tested and developed educational practices into the curricula of STEM. (More discussion of this project is found in footnote 2 in this chapter.)
The federal government is not the only source of funding for projects in undergraduate biology education. Private institutions play a crucial role, most notably the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. HHMI invested more than $476 million between 1987 and 2001 to support improvements in biology education at 232 colleges and universities. Their investment has transformed biology instruction at these institutions, in ways ranging from developing new curricula, hiring new faculty, promoting faculty development, and supporting independent research by undergraduate students. Many examples of outstanding programs can be found on their Web site and in publications (such as Beyond Bio 101), including examples of integration of science teaching across disciplines, especially at small colleges. The institute also has recently launched the HHMI Professors program to honor and support faculty who provide leadership in undergraduate education. The first awards were made in the fall of 2002 to biologists with excellent credentials in both teaching and research.
One foundation that has had a major impact in building an interdisciplinary approach is the Whitaker Foundation. Whitaker funds projects to enhance research and education in biomedical engineering in the United States and Canada. Biomedical engineering combines computer and engineering technology with the study of complex biological systems, and is an inherently interdisciplinary field. Departments of biomedical engineering draw faculty from many different disciplines. Established in 1975 by U.A. Whitaker, the foundation has already dispensed $600 million and will spend down its endowment to completely phase out its operations by 2006.