Vertical and horizontal integration of bioinformatics education

A modular, interdisciplinary approach



Bioinformatics education for undergraduates has been approached primarily in two ways: introduction of new courses with largely bioinformatics focus or introduction of bioinformatics experiences into existing courses. For small colleges such as Kalamazoo, creation of new courses within an already resource-stretched setting has not been an option. Furthermore, we believe that a true interdisciplinary science experience would be best served by introduction of bioinformatics modules within existing courses in biology and chemistry and other complementary departments. To that end, with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we have developed over a dozen independent bioinformatics modules for our students that are incorporated into courses ranging from general chemistry and biology, advanced specialty courses, and classes in complementary disciplines such as computer science, mathematics, and physics. These activities have largely promoted active learning in our classrooms and have enhanced student understanding of course materials. Herein, we describe our program, the activities we have developed, and assessment of our endeavors in this area.