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ERIC Number: EJ861154
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major and Liberal Education
Liberal Education, v95 n2 p6-13 Spr 2009
The defining task for undergraduate departments is the design of a major, including the number and content of courses as well as other requirements. Department members must weigh the desire to produce graduates superbly prepared for further study against the charge that the major requires too large a share of an undergraduate's course options. This dilemma is particularly striking for the sciences at undergraduate institutions where faculty are committed to the breadth of the liberal arts but also pride themselves on the number of students going on to graduate school or employment in scientific fields. Biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) are often among the most demanding majors in terms of course requirements. In addition to the linear nature of all science programs, which hinders the flexibility of a major, BMB are interdisciplinary fields that integrate material from courses in different departments. Tension between contributing departments often leads to an increase in the number of required courses. Since 1992, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has supported a recommended curriculum for the bachelor's degree in BMB. In the years since it was developed, this curriculum has been modified to emphasize skills rather than coursework. In addition to defining core content in chemistry, biology, and allied fields, the society has published a list of skills to be achieved. Although expressed in language specific to the sciences, these skills mirror the learning outcomes recommended by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in its 2007 report, "College Learning for the New Global Century." Mapping the two sets of skills onto one another indicates where the ASBMB guidelines are strongest and where they might be supplemented. Through a survey of department chairs and instructors, the researchers sought to learn how widely the ASBMB-recommended curriculum and skills are understood by departments, at what levels the skills are introduced, what methods of pedagogy are employed, and how often open-ended research problems are presented to students. Broader-ranging questions about the role of BMB in liberal education were explored through interviews and open sessions at the 2007 ASBMB national meeting. This article reports the findings of the survey. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A