Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education

Ability to Use Modeling and Simulation

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation emphasize the important role of models and modeling in Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action. Vision and Change outlines ways to improve undergraduate biology education in order to better prepare students for the biology-related challenges of the 21 century. Published in 2009, the report was the culmination of two years of input from more than 200 faculty members, administrators and college undergraduate students. 

 
The report states:
 
All students should understand how mathematical and computational tools describe living systems. Whether at the molecular, cellular, organismal, or ecosystem level, biological systems are dynamic, interactive, and complex. As new computational approaches improve our ability to study the dynamics of complex systems, mathematical modeling and statistical approaches are becoming an important part of the biologist’s tool kit. Biologists must understand both the advantages and the limitations of reductionist and systems approaches to studying living systems. Also important is the advantage of qualitative analyses, including steady-state behaviors (e.g., homeostasis) and associated stability analyses (e.g., responses to perturbations). A combination of these approaches is essential to teasing apart the complexities of biological systems.
 
A variety of computational educational tools is readily available to examine complexity as it arises in biological systems. These tools can simulate many interacting components and illustrate emergent properties that allow students to generate and test their own ideas about the spatiotemporal complexity in biology. Today, modeling is a standard tool for biologists, so basic skills in implementing computational algorithms for models are increasingly being incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum.
 
Core Concepts for Biological Literacy Core Competencies and Disciplinary Practices
Evolution Ability to apply the process of science
Structure and function Ability to use quantitative reasoning
Information flow, exchange and storage Ability to use modeling and simulation
Pathways and transformations of energy and matter and systems Ability to tap into the interdisciplinary nature of science
  Ability to understand the relationship between science and society

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action

Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action Summary of Recommendations

Vision and Change Website