Development of a Course Sequence for an Interdisciplinary Curriculum

  •  Muhammad Ali    


Interdisciplinary curriculum development is challenging in the sense that materials from more than one discipline have to be integrated in a seamless manner. A faculty member has to develop expertise in multiple disciplines in order to teach an interdisciplinary course, or the course has to be team-taught. Both approaches are difficult to implement. There are administrative issues, such as proportional posting of expenditures across departmental budgets for the courses taught collaboratively, or courses with students from multiple departments. This paper describes the development and teaching of a sequence of bioinformatics related interdisciplinary courses for incorporation into undergraduate biology curricula. Three courses were developed with collaboration between the Departments of Biology and Computer Science at Tuskegee University. Each course contains contents from different subjects, traditionally considered to be virtually independent of each other. The courses have contents from biology, computer science, statistics, mathematics and biochemistry. The first two courses, Introduction to Bioscience Computing and Biological Algorithms & Data Structures, cover the computing and computer science fundamentals necessary for the informed use of bioinformatics tools. The third is an introductory course in bioinformatics. The focus was on teaching the effective use of bioinformatics tools, as compared to development of bioinformatics tools which is more relevant at the graduate level. Administrative issues encountered are also discussed. This work was supported by a NSF HBCU-UP grant.

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