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364 THE LIFE SCIENCES U_ NIVERSITY ~ DUCATION The Setting Instruction in the life sciences occurs in a wide variety of settings. In some universities, the elements of biology are drawn together under a depart- ment bearing that name; in others, there are separate departments of botany and zoology; and, in perhaps the largest number, an even greater array of separate structures exist. The traditional departmental fragmentation that prevails in the biological sciences at many American universities, and at the land-grant institutions in particular, is the consequence of a peculiar historical development. Zoology departments, charged with the responsibility of training premedical students, become incorporated into colleges of arts and sciences. Botany, as a rule developed independently of zoology, often derives a major part of its support from schools of agriculture. As various other subdisciplines achieved strength of their own, separate administrative units were erected to accommodate their interests. This trend to fragmentation, once initiated, has been reversed only with difficulty; individual departments tend to persist unchanged, even when the disciplines they represent can no longer flourish in isolation. Biology and the training of biologists have suffered as a result. For example, many departments, even those dealing with the more specialized biological dis- ciplines, offer undergraduate as well as graduate degrees. The requirements for the major are frequently an overdose of specialized courses, taken at the expense of more fundamental subjects of a broadly encompassing nature. The outlook of the student is restricted, and he may be ill prepared for subsequent graduate work. The tendency is to train disciples rather than pioneers. Fortunately, there appears to be a growing realization that early training must be broadened. To require some advanced mathematics of a student in systematics is no longer considered unusual, nor is the idea that a bio- chemist may be expected to master evolutionary principles. Such recogni- tion of the common needs of their students is forcing many departments to reconsider the validity of the boundaries that separate them. Similarly, there is an overabundance of highly specialized undergraduate courses demanding replacement with broader substitutes. Comparative anatomy, as traditionally taught, is the evolutionary history of vertebrates; ignoring both invertebrates and plants. Embryology is usually almost strictly a zoological course; developmental botany, if taught at all, is rarely integrated with its animal counterpart. Traditional courses, moreover, are
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY sometimes retained even after there is no longer a demand for their un- altered continuance: Few medical schools now require comparative anatomy or embryology for admission, yet these courses, once designed for the pre- medical students, persist unchanged at many institutions. How basic biology may be reorganized, and how its relation to the "applied" life sciences may be most fruitfully redefined, is a matter of concern to institutions that are now reappraising their biology-department structures. The curriculum needs simplification rather than diversification to reflect the growing intellectual unity of biology. Courses are needed that bind the different subdisciplines, rather than additional courses that deal with subspecialties. Experimentation with curricula is necessary if only because, on campus, the life sciences have been so extraordinarily frag- mented. Undergraduate Curricula Despite this fragmentation, an increasing number of undergraduate majors in the life sciences, perhaps a majority, proceed through an undergraduate curriculum that embraces most major aspects of biology, or at least most of botany or zoology. Together with other pressures, this has had the laudable result of encouraging integrated curriculum planning for students in the life sciences, often drawing autonomous departments together. There seems to be agreement that there exists, in the intellectual content of biology, a common core of material that should form the basis for an undergraduate major, appropriate regardless of subsequent fields of speciali- zation. Thus, the same set of courses can serve for the premedical student and for the student who intends a research career. But there remain unique problems in the training of prospective secondary school teachers and of "terminal" majors. Several institutions have independently designed new core curricula after departmental reexamination of teaching objectives. An independent curriculum-study group, the Commission on Undergraduate Education in the Biological Sciences, has begun work on the problem of encouraging and assisting curriculum reform and other improvements in the teaching of biology to undergraduates. Financed almost entirely by the National Science Foundation, this Commission consists of 25 professional biologists who form a steering committee, a small executive staff, and a dozen panels drawn largely from outside the Commission. One Commission panel has compared the new core curricula installed in different universities. Among four quite diverse institutions, the simi- larity in content and in distribution of time among major topics is remark- ably high, reinforcing the conclusion that the trend is toward uniformity 365
366 THE LIFE SCIENCES in what is taught. The content of these curricula differs in several important ways from that of their more classical predecessors. In general, more cognate courses in the physical sciences and mathematics are required, often as prerequisites, often actually reducing the num ber of hours in biology required to complete the major. The core cur riculum has a much heavier emphasis on biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology, largely at the expense of systematic and comparative mor phology. At many institutions, the courses themselves are structured and labeled by "levels of organization" (i.e., molecular, cellular, organismic, population biology) rather than by taxonomic group or functional system. Thus they resemble somewhat the organization of the life sciences proposed and used in the present study (see Chapters 3 through 5), a trend we warmly endorse. It is not fair, however, to characterize the new curricula as being merely "more biochemical"; they simply reflect more accurately current biological understanding. Neurophysiology, endocrinology, and several other subjects are also better represented than they were before. These changes have enlivened the undergraduate major in biology in only a few institutions and are not yet well disseminated nationally. One of the major efforts of the Commission is to provide a medium through which information about curricular experimentation can be swiftly propagated and to supply competent help to institutions desiring to make changes. The diversity of the life sciences is a critical consideration in the design of undergraduate curricula. While the trend has been toward unification of biology departments and standardization of major curricula, the quite different requirements of different life science subspecialties will always pose special problems. Thus, although some departments have installed successful programs that prepare undergraduates regardless of their pro fessional intentions, many others feel it necessary to provide optional "tracks." The appropriateness of any one solution probably depends upon the inclination and taste of the faculty involved, and the resulting diversity is likely to be useful. Often, the options provided are concerned more with cognate courses than with the biology program per se. In the training of molecular biologists, for example, as much course work in chemistry as in biology may be desirable, and the departmental program should allow ample time for the appropriate courses. For evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, more work in biology as well as in such outside areas as mathematics and statistics may be desirable. To the extent that stan dardized "core" curricula provide broader exposure to all areas of biology for all biologists, then, they are desirable; but they should not create a lockstep in which the unique needs of particular groups or individuals can not be fulfilled. Even where the capabilities and temper of the faculty allow such changes
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY 367 in curricular structure, vexing problems hamper completion of the transi- tion. It has long been assumed that first-hand laboratory experience is a critical part of undergraduate education in any scientific discipline. Typi- cally, courses of the traditional biology curriculum included one to two afternoons a week of laboratory work-usually dissection, light microscopy, and some rather simple experiments. Even wealthier institutions now find themselves organized to teach laboratory work with rooms designed only for simple "sit-down" work. They possess large inventories of medium- quality compound microscopes and modest supplies of balances, kymo- graphs, and perhaps such devices as electronic stimulators, but they usually lack the more elaborate equipment and facilities to conduct more sophisti- cated biochemical, physiological, or genetic experiments. The typical biology undergraduate uses instruments in the laboratory that he will never again encounter except in a museum! Even in the better institutions? he is unlikely to have the opportunity to work directly, in a formal laboratory course, with a cathode-ray oscilloscope or a polygraph, with counting equipment, a good centrifuge, an electron microscope, or even a phase- cor~trast microscope. Even if the latter were available for research pur- poses, few students could have useful access to them in most circumstances. The high cost of research instruments raises an important practical question: Is it realistic to strive to make expensive instruments available to all students as part of their undergraduate education? For example, in 1900 the optical microscope was used at the very frontier of research; at a university of that day most biology students had ready access to a fairly good one. Today, work at some segments of the frontier requires an elec- tron microscope. Shall we strive to provide access to an electron microscope for each student, at a cost increase of perhaps 100-fold? Granting that, ideally, electron microscopes and a variety of other costly instruments should be available to all students, economic considerations force us to consider alternatives. Is it really essential that a student handle an expensive instrument in order to understand its uses and limitations? Or can he gain sufficient knowledge by other means? The economic neces- sity now being faced in science has previously been met in other fields of education. Consider, for example, the young man who wants to become a conductor of a symphony orchestra. Desirable though it might be to provide him with an orchestra for practice, the fact that rehearsal time for a full orchestra may cost in excess of $500 an hour compels the nature of the decision and, for many years, the young musician must be trained with various inexpensive surrogates. Without actual contact with the real "in- strument" (the orchestra), he must somehow be trained in the principles of its control. We must consider the development of equivalent surrogates for expensive instruments in the training of scientists.
368 THE LIFE SCIENCES Meanwhile, lacking direct or surrogate experiences with such instru- ments, the interested student can observe the contrast between activities in his professor's research laboratory and his own student experience. All too often he performs repetitions of old experiments, because nothing else can be done to "introduce him to the laboratory," a process usually initiated with the explanation that the purpose is to establish verisimilitude. Such programs tend to defeat rather than nourish the scholarly urge. This is first a problem in educational philosophy and only secondarily one of fiscal inadequacy. Laboratory work even with simple, inexpensive materials can be made exciting if it is really explorative and demands thoughtful initiative of the student rather than mere following of "recipes." Over-reliance on "recipes" produces students who are unable to attack novel problems with experimental tools and with the confidence that they can provide solutions. Nevertheless, whole areas of significant modern biology will remain closed to undergraduate experience unless laboratories can be re-equipped. Even without those major instruments for which we may have to provide only indirect experience, the conversion will be costly; apart from the building costs of new and adequate laboratory space, a large institution that graduates about 100 majors each year would require at least $250,000 to convert to a modern laboratory program for the core courses in its major curriculum alone. By this estimate, the national equipment deficit for under- graduate instruction in 1,200 institutions of higher education is currently $50 million to $100 million. Federal sources for such funds are now totally inadequate; the undergraduate instructional equipment program at the National Science Foundation is woefully underbudgeted and cannot make grants of the size required. The total national bill may be reduced by "sharing" programs between smaller institutions and part-time use of research equipment. Even without such reduction, we consider the cost small indeed in terms of our national scientific effort and urge that a pro- gram of adequate scale be mounted either at the National Science Founda- tion or the Office of Education of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Teaching of Biology TEACHING AS AN ACTIVITY Most of the nation's professional biologists are teachers of one sort or another, at least part of the time. Moreover, the nature of teaching today is one of the determinants of the direction the research enterprise will take in the next generation. It is disturbing, then, that college and university
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY teaching has received relatively little "scientific" scrutiny and that profes- sional scientists who are also teachers quickly discover that their efforts to improve teaching are less productive of prestige and professional advance- ment than their research efforts. These two problems contribute enormously to the difficulties in the way of improvement of education in the life sciences. Evaluation of teaching is difficult. Although a number of universities have attempted to involve students and other faculty members in the evalu- ation process, no method seems free of the potential criticisms that student judgments are flawed by recency or uncritical enthusiasm and that col- leagues' judgments can be obtained only by objectionable monitoring. The latter concern is both serious and perplexing. Many a university teacher regards his classroom as quasi-sacred and what he says to his students as privileged communication. Anything that suggests an evaluation of his teaching arouses intense, sometimes irrational, defense mechanisms. With corrective feedback thus prevented, the lack of progress in teaching is easily understood. Nor have we confidence that the organized rating sys- tems of undergraduate bodies will suffice to upgrade the general quality of undergraduate teaching. The same faculty member may run his research laboratory in a com- pletely different manner. The conspicuously successful trainer of research students typically maintains an extremely open atmosphere in the labora- tory; the hopes, plans, frustrations, failures, and successes are all visible and shared. Unfortunately, this atmosphere is not to be found in teaching; hence the largely nonprogressive character of teaching. Teaching, good or bad, is typically unmonitored by knowledgeable individuals; unproductive of ade- quate feedback, it may fall far short of its potentialities. Significantly improved teaching could occur in teaching "laboratories" in which a sufficient number of experimenters interested in the process of teaching conduct their work in the open way that characterizes the best research laboratories. Only in an atmosphere in which monitoring is so much the Rule that it is not recognized as such will satisfactory progress in teaching be made. An especially useful--and unobjectionable-form of mutual monitoring takes place in the increasing number of departments in which small groups of faculty members cooperate in the teaching of a course and attend one another's lectures. This usually results in improved perfor- mance, and in helpful cross-evaluation of materials and techniques. REWARDS FOR TEACHING Although some institutions and a few national foundations recognize and reward good teaching, these efforts have not yet had enough weight 369
370 THE LIFE SCIENCES collectively to make educational activity at all comparable with research activity in generating recognition and reward. This is especially unfortu- nate in view of the fact that many teaching activities are essentially scholarly themselves: the writing of a really superior textbook, the design and execution of new means of instruction, or the preparation of a new and exciting course. Such activities, with evaluations of their success, deserve dissemination and reward much as do other kinds of scholarly activity. NEW METHODS OF TEACHING The rising demand for teachers-and widespread dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of current educational methods has forced life scientists, as it has teachers in other disciplines, to consider new methods of instruc- tion. Efforts in this direction are bearing fruit at such a pace that we now find ourselves amidst a rapidly expanding technology of new ways of teaching. Among the most prominent innovations are the use of "pro- grammed" instructional material; the use of television in lecture and smaller group teaching; the use of "audiotutorial" laboratory teaching, in which the student is able to make use of stored audio and visual instructions for the conduct of laboratory work; the use of computers in assisting instruc- tion; and the use of film loops and other audiovisual materials. Fewer than 20 biology courses in the country now make use of television, and only a dozen use audiotutorial laboratory methods. Among this small number the overwhelming majority use these methods for freshman courses; to our knowledge only two advanced course programs in the country employ them. Adoption of new methods often requires heavy capital expenditures, which planners expect to be amortized by only slightly decreased costs of instruction. In many cases, however, the net result is actually an increase in cost, and a redistribution, rather than a saving, in staff time. But new instructional methods should be undertaken not as an economy but as improvements of the quality of instruction. As student enrollments stretch the system, only such new methods can effectively multiply the effectiveness of truly accomplished teachers. Misconceptions about the new methods have frequently hindered their adoption. Among the prevalent myths are the notion that televised teaching is necessarily impersonal, the idea that programmed materials are essentially boring, useful only for the establish- ment of the cut-and-dried factual base of a discipline, and the view that audiotutorial and similar methods are useful primarily for spoon-feedirlg slow students. Studies of situations in which these methods have been effec- tively used show that they can achieve results in student performance and attitudes that are at least comparable with those from traditional pro
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY cedures. At a time when the shortage of really effective teachers grows steadily more critical, these ways of multiplying the especially good teacher deserve careful study and experimental development. THE TRAINING AND RETRAINING OF TEACHERS A variety of programs are available for improving the quality of training of teachers at secondary school and college levels and for providing those already in service with ways of keeping up to date or alleviating inadequacies in their own backgrounds. The National Science Foundation has sponsored academic-year programs as well as summer and in-service programs. Those for secondary school teachers have engaged a surprising fraction of the teacher population; summer institutes in the mid-1960's had in attendance in any given year about 20 percent of the nation's high school teachers of science. However, to a considerable degree, this was a "repeating" fraction: more than half of all teachers had no exposure to such experience; only 1 percent have had a full academic year. Among college teachers the record is substantially poorer. Only about 1 percent of this population has ever attended a summer institute, and only an infinitesimal percentage has taken a full year for the sole purpose of retraining. It might be thought that college teachers would not require training of this sort, but they do. The Com- mission on Undergraduate Education in the Biological Sciences regards 1,000 of our 2,400 institutions of higher education as being entirely inade- quately staked to teach a modern program in the life sciences. The 4,000- 5,000 full-time life sciences faculty members in these institutions would all benefit from exposure to a program of retraining. Thus one of the most vexing problems confronting education in biology is improvement of the existing situation at both secondary school and col- lege levels. Several approaches to this problem may warrant consideration. One would be to expand the opportunity available for retraining by the provision of a massively supported plan for financing full-year sabbatical leaves for teachers who need retraining. Most of those who have taught in academic-year and summer institutes feel that the full-year program is much more desirable than a larger number of shorter periods. A second proposal is to enable college departments to achieve major curriculum revisions. This would involve supplying funds on a 3-to-5-year basis for particular departments, allowing them to release the time of one or more members to plan and organize new programs. A third approach would aim at alleviation of some of the major problems of relatively small insti- tutions of higher education that lack research facilities and adequate re- search programs. Such a plan could include funds to facilitate exchanges between larger and smaller institutions in an area, to apprentice under 371
THE LIFE SCIENCES graduate students in small institutions to research enterprises in larger ones, to permit faculty in smaller institutions to spend summers in research activity in major universities or other laboratories, or to have postdoctoral fellows at large universities "extern" as teachers in relatively nearby smaller institutions. Several general observations may be made in conclusion. The scientific community, in general, fails to project a positive attitude toward teaching at any level as a career, and, predictably, this prejudice rubs off on stu- dents. Students engaged in the intensive research-oriented training for the doctorate must be shown by example that teaching is a significant and creative aspect of their future careers. Federal and other funding arrange- ments for the support of graduate education should include proper pro- visions for structured teaching experience. We view this as an intrinsic part of graduate work and suggest that a well-thought-out program of this kind may well be a preferable alternative to the adoption of a special "teaching degree" as a means of training college teachers. Finally, to deal with present inadequacies in the teaching of the life sciences at secondary school and college levels, programs for retraining and for maintaining contact with recent advances are increasingly necessary. BIOLOGY AND LIBERAL EDUCATION The pattern of the introductory collegiate course in biology for the future professional biologist becomes increasingly clear: it must assume a con- siderable expertise in elementary chemistry' physics, and mathematics. As an incidental consequence, these prerequisites often require that the beginning biology course be postponed until the sophomore year. More importantly, the prerequisites for the beginning course for future profes- sionals make this course increasingly unsuitable for students with other major interests. What should be done for them? We reject the suggestion that biologists should abandon the attempt to educate the general college student in biology. Knowledge of the principles and facts of biology is required to make intelligent decisions in innumerable matters of social and political importance: air and water pollution, radia- tion hazards, biological warfare, agricultural policies, voluntary and com- pulsory quality control of food and drugs, and population control, to name only a few. Biologists cannot expect public understanding or acceptance of their advice on public issues unless the college-educated segment of the community is biologically literate. What sort of a college course in biology should be given non-biology majors? Attempts to meet the need for such a course by "watering down" the major course have met with uniform failure for two generations. Be
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY cause the non-major course cannot be strongly couched in chemical and mathematical language, it is more elementary than the major course. But ^ ~~ student require that the course addressed to the interests of the general them emphasize certain advanced topics that the major student will not study until some years later: ecology, population genetics, and human genetics, for example. These topics must be treated thoroughly enough that students majoring in sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, or the humanities see the overwhelming relevance of biology to their problems. Only a few courses that do this job well are being taught. There is a crying need for this type of biology course, and for its distinctness from the major course, if the profession is to build the broad base of educated understand- ing needed for the future support of biological research. There is yet one more type of course to which biologists would be well advised to turn their attention-a course that might be thought of as "Ele- mentary Biology from an Advanced Standpoint." The intended audience would be undergraduate majors in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or engineering. They would take this course as juniors, seniors, or even as graduate students. Since the level of their sophistication in the physical sciences would be very high, this select group of students would very ranidlv be brought to a deen understanding of the fundamentals of biolo~v. 1 ~ ~ 1 ~ ~ - ~ . ~ ~ ~ . . ~ . ~ Such a course would serve several purposes: to present biology as a cultural subject to physical scientists; to prepare physical scientists for collaborative research with biologists; and to proselytize from this group, which has furnished so many excellent investigators in biology in the recent past. Though enjoyable, it would be a difficult course to give, but it should be possible to present it at increasing numbers of institutions as the pioneer teachers develop the textbooks for such an advanced treatment of ele- mentary biology. Research Training: Graduate Ecincation in the Life Sciences THE INSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM: FUNCTIONS AND DIVERSITY The system for educating life scientists at the graduate level is as complex and diversified as the roles biologists serve in society, but since this com- plexity largely reflects historical accident, it invites scrutiny. In the main, appropriate graduate training is needed for: (1) school- teachers at elementary and secondary levels, (2) college and university teachers, and (3) research workers. For the latter two categories, speciali- zation ranges through the applied fields (themselves internally very diverse) of medicine, agriculture, and forestry to the equally varied disciplines of
374 THE LIFE SCIENCES academic biology. The training of a teacher or investigator in molecular biology, systematics, or embryology necessarily is very different. The complexity of the institutional system serving the total enterprise is reflected in the fact that almost 40 subdisciplines in the biological sciences offer separate masters or doctoral programs and have sought traineeship support from the National Science Foundation. The departmental cate- gories were found among 876 individual departments in colleges of arts and sciences, colleges of agriculture and forestry, and colleges of medicine. Of all graduate students, 53 percent are in Ph.D.-granting programs in the biological sciences in the professional schools (agriculture and medicine). THE STUDENT POPULATION: SIZE, ATTRITION, LOCATION Approximately 7,500 students enter the system each year, largely from the approximately 25,000 students who annually receive baccalaureate degrees in the biological sciences. Although the academic fields of biology are attracting an increasing number of students with bachelor's training in physics or chemistry, the absolute number of these is probably still very small. Immigration from the physical sciences is probably greatest at the postdoctoral level. This annual input of students suffers substantial attrition; we can make a rough measurement from data reported in the questionnaire sent to de- partment chairmen by this Survey Committee. In the academic year 1966-1967, there were 23,287 graduate students in the responding life science departments; of these, 15,755 were Ph.D. candidates. These candidates were distributed among 876 departments, of which 560 awarded 2,332 Ph.D.'s in 1966-1967. These data allow some estimate of the "efficiency" of graduate education, or, at least, of Ph.D. production. Sixteen thousand doctoral candidates, under the ideal cir- cumstances of a four-year Ph.D. without attrition, should produce 4,000 Ph.D.'s a year. In fact, the "pool" represented by our sample produced a little over half that number. This efficiency figure may actually be even lower than it appears, since the ratio should actually be determined by the number of candidates that enter during a period of time, rather than the number enrolled at a given instant. Also, some graduate programs define Ph.D. candidates as those who have completed a master's degree or passed a qualifying examination. This practice will reduce the apparent pool of active candidates, and thus inflate efficiency figures. Another way of measuring efficiency (which is subject to the same reservations) is to use only those departments that awarded Ph.D. degrees during 1966-1967 and calculate the ratio of candidates to degrees awarded in those departments. Such calculations yield an average ratio of 6.0, which
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY 375 would translate to an efficiency figure of roughly 75 percent. There is some variation between types of departments; smaller ones, even though they may be less productive, tend to have lower attrition. careers of students who fail to complete the doctoral program are largely unknown and merit future investigation, along with the causes of their "failure." Women are only half as likely as men to finish their doctoral degrees an aspect of the general failure of our society to take advantage of the creative resources of its female population. An entirely different measure of the effectiveness of a graduate program is the production of Ph.D.'s relative to the numbers of individual faculty members who train them. Fifty-five percent of the faculty members repre- sented in our sample teach in Ph.D.-granting departments, and 73 percent are located in departments in which there are Ph.D. candidates. On the average, in those departments that produced Ph.D.'s in 1966-1967, there were four faculty members per Ph.D. produced. In departments with Ph.D. candidates, there was 0.8 faculty member per candidate. These ~. 1 ~l_ ~ =--^-~^~` `^ ^~^~^- For The fates of the 1~ ~ ~^~4 ~ ^~ ~ examples departments of biochemistry averaged 0.5 faculty member per candidate and in 1967 produced a Ph.D. for every 2.5 faculty members. Anatomy departments, by contrast, had 1.3 faculty members per candidate and pro- duced only one doctorate for every eight faculty members. ticYllr^c arm term and. Icing at ~.n~I=~.nT TO aDOlReE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THE GRADUATE STUDENT AND HIS EDUCATION The cost of educating graduate students in biology, as in other sciences, is rarely met by the student directly; his training is subsidized in a variety of ways. Half of the graduate students in the life sciences are supported federally: 42 percent enjoy federal fellowships and traineeships, 38 percent have nonfederal (institutional) support, 13 percent are paid from faculty research grants (most of which are federal), and 8 percent are supported by other means, including their own resources. The pattern of federal support differs strikingly by type of school and department. Sixty-eight percent of the graduate students In SChOOlS O! medicine are supported by federal traineeships and fellowships, compared with 40 percent of students in graduate schools of arts and sciences and 22 percent of those in schools of agriculture and forestry. Federal support is provided for 66 percent of the students in departments of biophysics and 52 percent of those in departments of biochemistry, whereas only 20 percent of graduate students of botany receive such stipend support. These discrepancies arise from the sources of these federal funds. Train- ing grants support over half of the federally financed Ph.D. candidates. Only about 20 percent of the students hold national fellowships, and insti . . . _ 1 , · _ i_ _ ~ 1 _ _ ~
376 THE LI FE SCIENCES tutional grants take care of another 20 percent. Since the traineeship funds come very largely from the National Institutes of Health, the criterion of health-relatedness markedly affects their distribution. Accordingly, stu- dents in departments of botany and schools of agriculture and forestry must seek other means of support. Competitive national fellowships, which support about 10 percent of the nation's doctoral candidates in the life sciences, establish stipend and prestige standards. Such fellowships are twice as important in private arts and sciences graduate schools as they are in the overall support picture because a relatively small number of high-prestige graduate schools attract a disproportionate share of the students able to compete successfully for these fellowships. Hence, competitive national fellowships loom larger in the support picture in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast-concentration points for such institutions. Of nonfederally supported students, most (75 percent) hold university teaching assistantships. Only a trifling number are supported by university fellowship funds. The importance of graduate student support is reflected in department chairmen's statements of the relative priority of different types of funds needed to "improve the department's research endeavor." Increasing pre- doctoral stipend funds were repeatedly cited as a prime need in those departments that currently train graduate students; it was mentioned by a fourth of all the departments as their first priority and by over half as one of the three most important funding categories. These data have led us to several conclusions: Stipend Levels Stipend levels, previously adequate, are no longer so (1970-19711. For six years, national fellowship and traineeship stipends have been set at a 12-monch standard of $2,400 for first-year students, $2,600 for intermediate-level students, and $2,800 for terminal Ph.D. can- didates, with an allowance of $500 for each dependent. In the meantime, the cost-of-living index has been rising at a rate of over 4 percent per year. Especially in the more expensive areas of the country, graduate students- even those without dependents are in serious economic straits. The avail- ability of stipends for summer work unrelated to thesis research tends to prolong the total period of graduate work for many students. Diversity of Sources of Support The diversity of sources of support is intrinsically desirable. The federal agencies responsible for science gen- erally (National Science Foundation ), health (National Institutes of Health), and education (U.S. Office of Education), all make contributions directed at different segments of the total enterprise. We note and deplore
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY 377 the absence of any significant contribution from the Department of culture, them Energy Commission, and the Department of Defense, because, until the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of Education acquire broader mandates or more adequate appro- priations, agencies that use substantial numbers of Ph.D.'s in basic sciences should contribute to the cost of their training. Diversity of sources of support is intrinsically desirable, and relieves the non-mission-oriented sources (National Science Foundation, Office of Education), making them freer to ensure adequate support for the least mission-oriented programs Agr~- National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Atomic and institutions. In this connection, we note that, until recently, the National Institutes of Health has, for the most part, been reasonably broad in its interpretation of the "health-related sciences" it is charged with supporting. It has cor- rectly recognized that biology is "all of a piece," and that it is inherently impossible and historically fallacious to identify some aspects as related to health and others as unrelated. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any biological problem of major importance that is without relevance to human welfare. Nonetheless, we ought to be cognizant of the danger inherent in the dependence of so large a fraction of the biological educational enter- prise upon an agency that has an applied-science mission. Although we hope that mission will always be broadly viewed, it is clear that our judg- ment as scientists is not wholly shared by those entrusted with the establish- ment of federal policy. If the National Institutes of Health were to adopt a more restricted interpretation of its mission, a process currently in prog- ress, the present pattern of dependence on the Institutes for research and training support could result in catastrophe for education in some areas of the life sciences. For this as well as other reasons, it would be unfortu- nate if the National Science Foundation and the Office of Education were to reduce their responsibilities to biology on the basis of past availability of funds from the National Institutes of Health. At the same time it is most strongly urged that the National Institutes of Health particularly the National Institute for General Medical Sciences continue to mount a vigorous, broad program of support for research training in the biological sciences. Federal Support An analysis is required to ascertain the wisest combina- tion of national competitive fellowships and traineeships available for allocation by departments. National competitive fellowships enable the successful outstanding stu- dent to choose freely among the institutions that offer him admission and to choose his sponsor and course of study without the constraints that some
378 THE LIFE SCIENCES times accompany local support, and their distribution affords some useful measure of the attractiveness and the quality of departments. The program of fellowships and traineeships as currently operated fails to provide ade- quate support to the host institutions; the $2,500 cost-of-education allow- ance that accompanies National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellowships (and National Science Foundation trainee- ships) barely covers the nominal tuition fee in many of the private institutions, and such fees cover less than half of the real costs of education. The National Institutes of Health training-grant system is more wisely constructed in this important respect. Awarded to a department or multi- departmental group, training grants frequently provide an amount (deter- mined by negotiation and the justification offered in the initial proposal) for equipment and other needs of the training program concerned. The annual cost to the agency of a National Science Foundation fellowship or traineeship or a National Institutes of Health fellowship is $5,000; on the other hand, the average cost to the National Institutes of Health of a student on a training grant is $8,000, which is much closer to the real costs of his education. In our view, ultimately federal agencies should utilize the traineeship and training-grant system for all but a rather small fraction of graduate student support. Training grants offer virtually all the freedom of choice of institution and of research mentor available with the fellowship device and, by their geographical distribution, assure the continual strengthening of graduate education across the country. As long as the grants are awarded on the basis of periodic peer review, there is little chance of misleading prospective graduate students while matching the training capability of each departmental unit to the actual magnitude of its training support. Cost of Education The cost of education for graduate student biologists merits separate and special notice. This cost is continuously increasing as the space requirements increase and the equipment needed becomes more sophisticated; to this extent it imposes on the universities an increasing burden that they are less able to bear as time passes. The unrealistic pro- vision for these costs in the $2,500 allowed per student has two conse- quences: it has not alleviated the generally inadequate state of training facilities across the country, and it permits the training process to remain too strongly dependent upon funds allocated primarily for faculty research. Few of the electron microscopes, spectrophotometers, and ultracentrifuges that are indispensable in the education of a graduate student today were purchased for that purpose. Thus, access to them is not easy for the stu- dent: the faculty member has a responsibility to his research and its sponsor for their maintenance in first-class research order. A conspicuous and
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY urgent need in most graduate departments is adequate curricular provision for training in the great diversity of laboratory techniques required for effective research in modern biology. The lack of such forestal training stems almost exclusively from the lack of funds for acquisition of equip- ment. The typical graduate student learns a sophisticated technique only if his dissertation work demands it i.e., if it is an important element in his faculty sponsor's research. That very fact can serve as an inhibitor to the imaginative approach to research problems in his subsequent career. THE GRADUATE PROGRAM The M.A. The M.A., as a terminal degree, has been steadily declining in importance; a doctorate is an indispensable qualification for all university teaching and for the vast majority of college openings. Terminal M.A.'s find their principal academic opportunities in the secondary schools or junior colleges, but many school biology teachers take other routes, such as the Master of Arts in Teaching. To the extent that it survives as a dis- tinct program, the M.A. usually consists primarily of the same formal course work that is a major element in the training of the "precandidacy" doctoral student. Doctoral Training The Ph.D. level is, then, the goal of virtually all grad- uate education in biology, and that fact itself has important consequences. Ostensibly, the same degree is the required entry for teachers at all levels above the secondary school ~ junior colleges, colleges, and graduate schools ), and for research scholars. In biology as in other disciplines this leads to national confusion concerning standards, curricula, and duration of study for the doctorate. The overwhelming majority of Ph.D.'s are awarded in research-oriented departments supported by substantial federal funding. Nearly 90 percent of Ph.D. candidates are being trained in departments that have already produced doctorates. Graduate education has always been concentrated in a relatively small number of departments in "prestige" universities, and this feature shows little tendency to change. Seventy-seven percent of Ph.D. candidates are in departments that also have postdoctoral fellows. As to type of institutions, 46 percent of the candidates are in graduate schools of arts and sciences, 29 percent are in schools of forestry and/or agriculture, and 25 percent are in medical schools. Three times as many candidates are found in public as in private institutions. This distribution contrasts with that of the departments that train graduate students: 28 per- cent of the departments that have awarded Ph.D.'s are in arts and sciences, 29 percent in agriculture and forestry, and 40 percent in medical schools. 379
380 THE LIFE SCIENCES In short, departments in arts and sciences graduate schools have larger numbers of students and accomplish more doctoral training than either of the other two kinds of institution; but the smaller departments found in schools of medicine have been expanding their capacity most rapidly. It is perhaps more meaningful to ask about the kinds of departments in which doctoral candidates are trained. Although 29 percent are found in schools of agriculture and forestry, only 14 percent are receiving degrees in the agricultural sciences; the difference is accounted for by students in basic life sciences departments in these professional colleges. Eighty-six percent of the candidates are in biological sciences departments, 14 percent of them in biochemistry, 18 percent in biology-ecology, 20 percent in zoology-entomology, and 5 percent in physiology. The remainder are scattered among smaller, more specialized disciplinary units. Geographically, the large land-grant institutions of the midwestern states are the largest producers of doctorates. Only in the Northeast does private surpass public education in Ph.D. production, and here medical schools play a prominent role. Graduate education in the life sciences is charac- terized by great regional asymmetries: over a third of the states produce fewer Ph.D.'s than a single medium-sized private institution, and both the South and the Rocky Mountain region are producing relatively few doc- torates. Finally, one may ask how the distribution of doctoral-degree candidates is correlated with the distribution of research funds. Not surprisingly, the correlation is high: If one eliminates the departments of clinical medicine, which are a special case in this regard, then 75 percent of the total federal allocation for research in the life sciences goes to those departments that have actually granted Ph.D. degrees. THE FUTURE OF GRADUATE PROGRAMS Increasing Ph.D. Production In view of the frequently expressed need for increased numbers of research workers and teachers who have doctoral degrees, it is important to estimate the "elasticity" of the training system- i.e., how much more training it is capable of. Department chairmen queried by the Committee were surprisingly optimistic about their ability to expand enrollments even without additional space and faculty. Seventy percent of the responding departments claimed that they could grow without these usual prerequisites; in the aggregate, they assert that they can increase their graduate school enrollment by about 25 percent. All departments combined predicted an expansion from 17,172 to 23,370 faculty members by 1970-1971. This projected increase is largest in the departments of basic medical sciences. Nearly 40 percent of this expansion
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY was stated to represent the filling of already-budgeted positions. Those departments already producing Ph.D.'s anticipated an increase in space of approximately 40 percent, two thirds of which was already under con- struction. In summary, the system seems to have a built-in expansion capacity that amounts to approximately 25 percent of its present production. By 1970- 1971, it is predicted that it will expand by about 50 percent from 1966- 1967 figures; this expansion will be accommodated by increasing space (by 40 percent) and faculty (by about 25 percent). These predictions do not appear realistic, even though half the projected expansion in space and faculty was thought to be underwritten at the time it was made. No more realistic is the prediction made by department chairmen of their own capacity to produce Ph.D.'s. In 1964-1965, the departments in our sample produced 2,000 Ph.D.'s; in 1966-1967, 2,330. For 1969-1970, the num- ber of new Ph.D.'s projected by these departments was 4,300. If efficiency is maintained at its present level, Ph.D. production should lag behind in- creases in graduate enrollment by about two years. The maximum increase likely, even ignoring effects of the draft and reduced federal funding, is perhaps 10 percent a year, somewhat more than the 7 percent annual incre- ment that has been characteristic of the sciences for many years. Duration of the Doctoral Program Since the training system has a limited capacity for expansion, and since present funding limitations are curtailing its operation drastically, it becomes even more important to improve the quality and efficiency of the enterprise. In particular, both attrition and the time required to obtain the doctorate should be curtailed. The national average for the time elapsing between the B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in all fields is still an alarming 8.5 years, although in many leading institutions, where sufficient support and supervision are provided, four to five years is now established as adequate. The tendency has been, and will continue to be, a general curtailment of the duration of study, with four to five years becoming a universal norm. Its attainment demands a more prescribed and carefully organized graduate curriculum than has prevailed in many insti- tutions; freedom from excessive burdens of teaching and from research assistantships that are not directly related to the thesis; and continuation of the trend, now more common in science than in the humanities, to pre- scribe appropriately modest research goals for the dissertation. The trend is thus to establish as well-regulated a program for the doc- torate as for the bachelor's degree, converting it from an ill-defined entry into the world of independent scholarship to a well-defined level of educa- tion. That level should be set realistically, at a point that will just satisfy the purposes of the doctorate. Students contemplating research careers 381
382 THE LIFE SCIENCES now have the opportunity of postdoctoral education; the doctoral program is not the end of formal training. The growth of postdoctoral education nationally has, in fact, developed hand in hand with this trend in the doctoral program. At the same time, there are plans to revitalize (or merely to rename, as M.Phil.) the M.A. degree to accommodate some of the functions now assigned to the doctorate. The prestige of the doctorate is such that even the smaller colleges are unlikely to be relieved of the pressure "to count their Ph.D.'s" and thus to render such subdoctoral degrees unacceptable. The regularization of doc- toral programs to a four-year norm and the evolution of a carefully admin- istered postdoctoral program seem, therefore, to constitute the more desirable policy. The postdoctoral student is not actually "postponing" his entry into the teaching system. He is, to be sure, free to benefit from a unique research experience unhampered by either a thesis deadline or the heavy burden of developing his own courses; but, in his daily contacts with graduate students in the same laboratory, he is discharging one of the most important and valuable teaching functions in the university while prepar- ing for a life dedicated to research. The Relation between Student and Faculty Sponsor The core of the doc- toral program remains the dissertation, and the goal of a four-year Ph.D. makes some form of apprenticeship almost inevitable in performing thesis research. That apprenticeship can, of course, degenerate into menial re- search assistance for a prescribed fraction of the sponsor's own research program, but this abuse is rare. There is little doubt that the intimate personal relationship between a student and his thesis supervisor is the most important formative element in his training as a scientist. Misuse of the apprenticeship system may be fostered by the prevalent dependence of student research opportunities on the faculty's research funds. Departmental funds are needed for student equipment and facilities, for research as well as for formal course work in those not infrequent cases in which an able student's own research goals do not coincide fully with those of his sponsor. For the same reasons, continued growth of fellowships and traineeships is desirable because it relieves departments of the necessity of funding students via the research-assistantship route. Formal Training and "Curriculum" Examination Decades ago, the Ph.D. general examination could pretend to test or demand-detailed knowl- edge not only of a subdiscipline but even of the entire field of biology. That time, if ever it really existed, is past; re-evaluation of the function and nature of the general, or qualifying, examination has thus become a
EDUCATION IN BIOLOGY preoccupation of faculties, and it is rarely satisfactorily defined. The diversity of the biological sciences makes the problem more acute than in the physical sciences. At the other extreme, the inclination to be "realistic" about such examinations has too often resulted in an examination and hence a whole curriculum orientation" that is unnecessarily specialized. It is clear that the diversity inherent in the biological sciences, and the need for specialists ranging from economic entomologists to molecular biologists, will continue to demand a wide range of specialty-oriented grad- uate departments. But this hardly explains the extreme diversity of pro- grams that have in fact evolved. The total biological enterprise in one of our leading graduate schools is fractionated into over 20 departments, each administering its own doctoral program. In fact, there is little excuse for persistence of even the traditional botany-zoology cleavage. Biology has undergone a century of maturation capped by two decades of extremely rapid advance. There is a central core of empirical generalization and theory whose existence every biological specialization must recognize, and doctoral programs should no longer be based on selection from the a la carte menu of courses that a department happens to offer. We are impressed by the fact that major national efforts have been devoted to the development of curricula in biology at the high school and undergraduate levels, but insufficient thought has been given to the develop- ment of a core curriculum at the graduate level. Graduate students in biology, unlike those in physics, come to the university with widely dis- parate undergraduate backgrounds. Those who were biology majors often have an inadequate background in mathematics and the physical sciences, and even within biology present a preparation that is too unpredictable and disorganized to constitute a secure basis for advanced work. The slowly increasing number who enter from the physical sciences, on the other hand, have had virtually no exposure to the "classical" areas of biology. The majority of graduate departments fail to remedy this deficiency as they succumb to the twin pressures for a "realistic" four- to five-year program and adequate coverage of advanced work. There is no reason why graduate departments cannot, with appropriate curriculum planning, overcome the problems posed by the welcome diversity of their entering students. These problems cannot be expected to disappear; increasing numbers of students with primary preparation in the physical sciences will continue to undertake graduate study in the life sciences, and the trend toward more uniform preparation within biology itself will move slowly. Because there is a fundamental unity in biology, it is desirable for the graduate program to provide basic competence in the fundamentals of genetics, evolutionary theory ~ and the major outlines of the history of 383
384 THE LIFE SCIENCES life), physiology and biochemistry of cell and organism, developmental biology, and population biology. Our concern is, moreover, not just that the students have some adequate course preparation in these five areas, but that their interrelations in contributing to a truly general science of life be fully developed. There is no doubt, in our view, that a student with an exclusively physical science background could be given this proper overview of the central core in biology within a year, yet we know of no single department that has seized the challenge of developing a general biology at the graduate level. Nor is its utility to be thought of as limited to those with physical science training. It is a compelling irony that the last time most biological scientists even attempted to see the subject in perspective was before they knew it as freshman or sophomore undergraduates! Beyond this point, the graduate experience will properly take a series of separate paths, depending upon the special requirements of the discipline for which the student is preparing. But it should not be supposed that, for most research workers in the life sciences, this special training can simply be laid over an appropriate background in physics and chemistry without an understanding that extends across the whole of biology. There is a genuine general biology today that is more than a shotgun marriage of subdisciplines; its focus is the organization of living things, and it recog- nizes that the analysis and understanding of cellular and organismic organi- zation is the goal that characterizes or defines the enterprise of the biologist as against that of the purely physical scientist.