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.
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- life sciences
- biological research