Non Technical Summary
Bioinformatics, a computer-based approach, is central to the biological research including disease understanding, drug-development and low-cost production of healthy agricultural items. Because of shortage of skilled personnel, both industry and government sectors have been hard-pressed for trained graduates in bioinformatics. Fort Valley State University has responded to this market demand by developing four elective courses in bioinformatics to train its students. However due to lack of well thought-out pedagogy and accompanying technology-rich learner-facility (lacks basic computers and instructional delivery systems) students are unable to develop necessary skills in the subject.Therefore, the goal of this proposal is to develop inquiry-based teaching with supporting technology-rich infrastructure and faculty preparation to increase students' knowledge and skills in the subject via hands-on training. This new laboratory will include state-of-the-art computers equipped with data collection and analysis software systems as well as various instructional-delivery tools to facilitate faculty to effectively conduct the laboratory component of the existing bioinformatics and related STEM courses.The proposed project will result in institutional enhancement at FVSU in several ways. it will: (1) strengthen the technological infrastructure, thus helping students garner a solid knowledge in bioinformatics, (2) enrich FVSU faculty preparation in the instructional delivery tools and curriculum preparation, (3) promote interdepartmental teaching and research collaborations among interested faculty, and (4) help in FVSU's efforts for an increased recruitment and retention of meritorious students. The successful completion of this project may serve as a model for adopting similar program in other minority or HBCUs where such a program is not in place.
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Goals / Objectives
Goal and Objectives:Goal: The goal of this proposal is to enhance students' competency in the concepts, tools, techniques, and applications of bioinformatics through hands-on research experiences in the classroom. In order to accomplish the above goal, the proposal is designed to develop curriculum in bioinformatics with complementing technology infrastructure, as well as prepare faculty in curriculum and instruction. The following specific objectives are setup to accomplish the goal of the proposal.OBJECTIVE 1: Establish technology-rich laboratory to facilitate experiential learningDiscussion: Accomplishment of this objective would provide FVSU students and faculty with a new and much needed technology-rich training laboratory. This infrastructure facilitates faculty to effectively conduct laboratory component of the existing bioinformatics courses and carry-out activities for students' hands-on experiential learning. Dr. Gosukonda, Project Director, will carry out the implementation of the facility.OBJECTIVE 2: Design and develop course-embedded hands-on activity modules. Discussion: Achieving this objective would result in the development of a series of self-contained inquiry-based hands-on activity modules to provide students with experiential learning and improve competencies in bioinformatics subject. The modules' pedagogical design will help place students in team-oriented, problem-solving, decision-making situations in the context of real-world experiences. Project Director, in consultation with other faculty will design and develop materials for these modules. OBJECTIVE 3: Enhance technology-rich instructional delivery systems in the laboratory.Discussion: Outcome of this objective will establish the state-of-the-art instructional delivery systems in proposed new laboratory. This newly installed infrastructure will enhance the quality, effectiveness, and cost efficiency of the instruction delivery. The purpose is to promote student engagement with learning processes by facilitating a technology-enhanced teaching and learning environment. Project Director and Steering Committee will plan and implement these activities.OBJECTIVE 4: Enrich faculty preparation in bioinformatics curriculum and instruction. Discussion: Accomplishment of this objective would enrich the academic preparation of selected faculty in bioinformatics subject and its instruction delivery. Participating in conferences, workshops, seminars etc., will enhance the credentials of faculty and their ability to advance the instructional goals of the bioinformatics curriculum. Project Director, along with the Steering Committee will coordinate the faculty preparation programs.
Plan of Operation and Methodology:1. Form a Steering Committee: A committee of five members will be formed to set the standards and guidelines for the implementation and successful completion of the project in a timely manner. The committee members will be selected from FVSU faculty and it will be led by the Project Director. The members will be selected based on their interest in bioinformatics, expertise in curriculum development, and instruction.2. Develop Technology Infrastructure for Student's Learning Environment: The location for the proposed new laboratory will be selected by the steering committee. The implementation phase will begin with the purchase of the required work stations, backup equipment, data acquisition and analysis software, Hewlett Packard laser printers, multimedia equipment, Wi-Fi network hardware, and other related laboratory instrumentation. New and emerging technologies, software, and platforms such as Flashnotes, Lore, Knewton etc., will be made available for students' use. These workstations will be installed on suitable furniture to accommodate display units of the modern computers. These computers will be secured with protective gear. Ergonomic seating chairs will be purchased to make classrooms attractive and comfortable. The lab will be equipped with a research workstation and mobile computers for data collection and analysis. The installation phase will be supervised by Dr. Ramana Gosukonda, and it will be completed within the year from the start of the project.3. Design and Develop Course-Embedded Hands-on Activity Modules.FVSU will draw upon the complementary strengths of its faculty from different academic programs to devise innovative hands-on activity modules in bioinformatics that will be structured as a series of self-contained packages. These modules will be integrated into the bioinformatics courses and other relevant science curricula, to pique students' interest in Bioinformatics and other STEM fields. It is expected that this approach will enable students to see first-hand, the applications of theoretical concepts to the real-world problems and prepare them for the rigor of a concentration in sciences that could lead to increased retention rates.The pedagogical approach of the modules would include accentuating key concepts, hands-on exercises, problem solving, and active and cooperative learning. The majority of these modules will consist of one to two weeks' worth of classroom materials.3. Enhance technology-rich instructional delivery systems in the laboratory. Installation of instructional delivery systems will be carried out concurrently along with the establishment of technology in proposed students' laboratory. Various instructional delivery systems (for example, SmartBoard, SMART amp integrations etc.) will be evaluated to identify the best technologies that stimulate interactivity and collaboration while promoting creativity and learning across the curriculum. The computers will be equipped with various computer programming and curricular software systems that will be able to handle image processing capabilities, and artificial intelligence algorithms used in both bioinformatics and other STEM curricula. The instructional delivery systems will support mobile programming, cloud technology, online instruction for e-learning and multimedia instruction that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video etc.4. Enrich faculty preparation in bioinformatics curriculum and instruction.The Steering committee and Project Director will decide on institutions and/or agencies for preparation of faculty in curriculum development and instruction delivery. Several webinars will be explored to enrich faculty preparation in the bioinformatics curricula and pedagogy development. The steering committee will review bioinformatics curricula offered at 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Institutions and critically examine curricula developed at FVSU and other institutions. Experienced academicians and industrial personnel with expertise in bioinformatics and biotechnology will be invited to provide seminars to keep faculty abreast with the latest developments in the bioinformatics field.The dynamic nature of technology development and innovation requires strategies to ensure that faculty is informed and skilled. Thus, these workshops will be designed to provide faculty with an in-depth understanding of the integration of proposed infrastructure technologies and pedagogy. Half-a-day training workshops will be conducted by FVSU faculty members or consulting personnel from industry or other institutions to prepare faculty in the usage of state-of-the-art instructional delivery systems. Utilization of latest technologies including audiovisual devices, telecommunications, and computer technology in educational instructions will be explored fully for effective teaching.