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PLoS One. 2019 Nov 18;14(11):e0224288. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224288. eCollection 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.

Author information

1
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, United States of America.
2
Microbiology and Cell Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States of America.
3
Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States of America.
4
Department of Biology, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA, United States of America.
5
Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, United States of America.
6
Department of Biology, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH, United States of America.
7
University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, United States of America.
8
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America.
9
Department of Biological Sciences, Hampton University, Hampton, VA, United States of America.
10
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, United States of America.
11
Department of Teacher Education, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, United States of America.
12
Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, United States of America.
13
Department of Biological Sciences, Bioinformatics Program, St. Edward's University, Austin, TX, United States of America.
14
Departments of Biological Sciences and Mathematical Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, United States of America.
15
Department of Biology, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, United States of America.
16
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, United States of America.
17
Biology and Biotechnology Department, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, United States of America.
18
Bioinformatics Program, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA, United States of America.
19
Digital World Biology, PMB, Seattle, WA, United States of America.
20
Department of Natural Sciences, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus, San Juan, PR, United States of America.
21
Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, United States of America.
22
Department of Biology, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, United States of America.
23
Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Sciences, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, San Germán Campus, San Germán, PR, United States of America.
24
Department of Computer Science, Ohio University, Athens, OH, United States of America.
25
School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States of America.
26
Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States of America.
27
Department of Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States of America.
28
School of Interdisciplinary Informatics, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, United States of America.

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.

PMID:
31738797
PMCID:
PMC6860448
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0224288
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

We declare that author TMS has an affiliation with a private company, Digital World Biology (DWB). As noted in the Funding Statement, DWB provided support for this work in the form of salary for TMS. This affiliation does not alter our adherence to PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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