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New HHMI Publication, Beyond Bio 101, Finds Significant Changes Underway in How American College Students Learn the Science of Life

Summary

Tedious textbooks and boring laboratories. That's how some Americans remember their college science classes. But a new HHMI publication on undergraduate biology education, being released simultaneously in a special World Wide Web version, finds big changes quietly taking hold at colleges and universities nationwide:

  • Large numbers of undergraduates are now helping to carry out original research, using modern biological equipment and techniques, instead of just memorizing facts.
  • Technological innovations such as computerized animations and "virtual" experiments are helping to bring complex biological concepts to life.
  • Many campuses have developed programs to attract more women and underrepresented minorities to careers in the biological sciences. They also have begun working with science teachers at nearby schools to improve science education for millions of younger Americans.

Beyond Bio 101: The Transformation of Undergraduate Biology Education says the impact of these trends extends far beyond college campuses. "It is a story whose outcome affects not only scientists and educators, but also a larger society that is facing difficult choices about health care, the environment, the economy, and many other issues involving biology," writes Purnell W. Choppin, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, in his foreword to Beyond Bio 101.

The colorful publication explores the experiences of many of the 220 colleges and universities that have been awarded more than $335 million in grants from the Institute since 1988 to strengthen their undergraduate biology programs. The HHMI program is the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance science education at the undergraduate level. Beyond Bio 101 is available free upon request from: Office of Communications, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 4000 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6789. The World Wide Web version is at: http://www.hhmi.org/BeyondBio101.

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Jim Keeley
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