gained from education research are not adequately reflected in today’s undergraduate biology classroom. Significant changes are necessary to prepare students to become biomedical researchers of the future. This report lays out a plan to transform undergraduate education in biology. Implementation of this plan will require more than tinkering around at the edges of the current system. It will require a dramatic change in the priority given to professional development for faculty. For it to succeed, faculty must engage themselves in a learning process to gain the skills and knowledge that will help their students learn. More importantly, college and university administrators must actively support faculty in these endeavors. Administrators must help faculty obtain the time and money to prepare and implement new ways of teaching science. However, even large increases in the time and money devoted to educational reform will not have an optimal impact if the academic culture does not begin to give a higher priority to education. Evidence given throughout this report supports the idea that interdisciplinary education is in the best interests of both undergraduates and their professors, and that science faculty should take responsibility for ensuring that their teaching is of the highest quality possible.
The committee also hopes that this report will stimulate institutions to carry out a comprehensive review of the educational experiences of undergraduate life science majors. These experiences include learning inside and outside of the classroom, the content covered, and the way in which it is taught. The report calls for colleges and universities to be more attentive to how their policies create incentives for faculty behavior that may encourage or discourage attention to teaching. Increasing the incentives for faculty to devote attention to teaching is necessary to facilitate ongoing efforts to provide a quality education for undergraduates. However, increased attention to teaching alone will not be enough; faculty must also have access to teaching resources and experts with knowledge of appropriate educational approaches.
This report focuses on preparing biomedical researchers, while recognizing that there are many other career options for biology students. NSF’s Science and Engineering Indicators (National Science Foundation and National Science Board, 2000) predicts that the number of jobs for biological and medical scientists will grow from 110,000 in the year 2000 to 135,000