Biotechnology and baccalaureate biology education: A Delphi study forecasting change through 2003

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher




The impact of biotechnology on undergraduate biology education through 2003 was assessed using a modified Delphi technique. Leading bio-educators, drawn from respected universities through the United States, and noted biologists at the forefront of biotechnology formed a panel of experts who attempted to form a consensus on changes that might occur in the Biology undergraduate curriculum. Using a three round Delphi instrument, the impact of technology was assessed in five general areas:^ Curriculum content. Major changes anticipated in this category include an increased emphasis on Molecular Biology and Genetics, increased utilization of computer application, continued emphasis on ancillary sciences and mathematics, and a decline in the study of Organismic Biology and Ecology, although Ecology is expected to rebound in the middle to far future.^ Process/methodology. Increased use of instrumentation at all levels, increased emphasis on computer modeling, writing and communication skills, and increased use of problem-based learning are all anticipated. Considered desirable by some but nevertheless not likely to occur in the near future are undergraduate courses taught at industrial sites and stretching of the undergraduate curriculum to five years.^ Specialization. Increased pressure for early specialization is considered likely through 2003. Early research training and increased vocational training are also considered likely, although the latter was considered undesirable.^ Ethical and social concerns. The new technology is expected to continue to raise questions and pose new ethical issues; the use of specific kinds of live material in teaching is expected to be limited; and the inclusion of a Bio-ethics course in the curriculum is considered likely by 2003.^ External forces. Budgetary pressures associated with the purchase and maintenance of equipment is expected to increase sharply; faculty recruitment in certain areas is expected to be more difficult; and the number of biology majors through 2003 is expected to remain stable or decline.^ In addition to likelihood of occurrence, desirability and impact were also assessed. ^