Barriers to integration of bioinformatics into undergraduate life sciences education: A national study of US life sciences faculty uncover significant barriers to integrating bioinformatics into undergraduate instruction

Jason J. Williams, Jennifer C. Drew, Sebastian Galindo-Gonzalez, Srebrenka Robic, Elizabeth Dinsdale, William R. Morgan, Eric W. Triplett, James M. Burnette III, Samuel S. Donovan, Edison R. Fowlks, Anya L. Goodman, Nealy F. Grandgenett, Carlos C. Goller, Charles Hauser, John R. Jungck, Jeffrey D. Newman, William R. Pearson, Elizabeth F. Ryder, Michael El Sierk, Todd M. SmithRafael Tosado-Acevedo, William Tapprich, Tammy C. Tobin, Arlin Toro-Martinez, Lonnie R. Welch, Melissa A. Wilson, David Ebenbach, Mindy McWilliams, Anne G. Rosenwald, Mark A. Pauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bioinformatics, a discipline that combines aspects of biology, statistics, mathematics, and computer science, is becoming increasingly important for biological research. However, bioinformatics instruction is not yet generally integrated into undergraduate life sciences curricula. To understand why we studied how bioinformatics is being included in biology education in the US by conducting a nationwide survey of faculty at two- and four-year institutions. The survey asked several open-ended questions that probed barriers to integration, the answers to which were analyzed using a mixed-methods approach. The barrier most frequently reported by the 1,260 respondents was lack of faculty expertise/training, but other deterrents-lack of student interest, overly-full curricula, and lack of student preparation- were also common. Interestingly, the barriers faculty face depended strongly on whether they are members of an underrepresented group and on the Carnegie Classification of their home institution. We were surprised to discover that the cohort of faculty who were awarded their terminal degree most recently reported the most preparation in bioinformatics but teach it at the lowest rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0224288
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

Keywords

  • bioinformatics
  • life sciences
  • biological research
  • curricula

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    Williams, J. J., Drew, J. C., Galindo-Gonzalez, S., Robic, S., Dinsdale, E., Morgan, W. R., Triplett, E. W., Burnette III, J. M., Donovan, S. S., Fowlks, E. R., Goodman, A. L., Grandgenett, N. F., Goller, C. C., Hauser, C., Jungck, J. R., Newman, J. D., Pearson, W. R., Ryder, E. F., Sierk, M. E., ... Pauley, M. A. (2019). Barriers to integration of bioinformatics into undergraduate life sciences education: A national study of US life sciences faculty uncover significant barriers to integrating bioinformatics into undergraduate instruction. PLoS One, 14(11), [e0224288]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224288