been tapped. They need to be integrated into traditional teaching and developed as distinctive media that stand on their own. This chapter highlights some opportunities, starting with interdisciplinary modules.

The physical science and mathematics background of life science majors should be markedly strengthened by bringing principles and examples drawn from these disciplines into the teaching of biology courses. No longer should these disciplines be regarded merely as courses to be “taken” by life science students. Rather, they should be woven into the teaching of biology itself to better illustrate the integrative and interdisciplinary nature of the life sciences. The next section presents examples of ways to integrate two or more sciences together into one course. The ideas presented here may be helpful in designing courses for the curricular ideas and arrangements presented in Chapter 2.

MODULES FOR COURSE ENRICHMENT

The purpose of this section is to provide some of the best examples identified in the course of this study as models for faculty who may want to incorporate some of the ideas into their own teaching. A step toward interdisciplinary teaching can be taken by using modules that focus on important principles of mathematics and the physical and information sciences in order to demonstrate their relevance to biology. A module could be presented in a single lecture or laboratory session, or over several sessions. For example, a module on allosteric interactions in hemoglobin could enrich the teaching of respiratory physiology. Students could explore the following questions by carrying out interactive computer simulations: How does the cooperative binding of oxygen to hemoglobin increase the efficiency of oxygen transport? How much oxygen is released from hemoglobin when the pH is lowered? How is oxygen transport affected by high altitude?

Modules have been developed and integrated into science curricula with success at some institutions, but this approach has not been widely adopted at a majority of institutions nationwide. The use of biological examples as modules in courses on chemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics could help make those courses more relevant to future biological research scientists. Well-chosen examples that vividly present the biological pertinence of the physical or mathematical concepts under study can help students draw connections between material taught in different courses. Faculty from different disciplines should get together to prepare a series of interdisciplinary modules and associated teaching materials



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement