ASM's Curriculum Recommendations: Science Course for Non-science and/or General Education Majors

Participants of the 2000 and 2001 ASM Undergraduate Education Conferences were given the task of developing recommendations for various microbioloby curricula.  The results of their efforts are outlined in this article published in the Fall 2001 issue of Focus on Microbiology Education

Microbiology Curriculum Recommendations
Published in Focus on Microbiology Education
10/1/2001
. Participants of the 2000 and 2001 ASM Undergraduate Education Conferences were given the task of developing recommendations for various microbiology curricula. The results of their efforts are outlined in the articles below, which provide guidelines for non-major’s curricula.   

 

Science Course for Non-science and/or General Education Majors


Background
These recommendations are intended for the student who is not a science major and is likely to take one general biology course. The course would not have any science prerequisites.

Recommendations
The course should include the following content relevant to microorganisms. More than likely the material will be integrated into broader topic areas such as cellular structure that might emphasize the similarities and differences of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Programs that offer a stand-alone microbiology course should use the ASM guidelines for a Microbiology course outlined previously. For programs that do not offer a one-semester, stand-alone course, the following content should be incorporated in the general science course. The principles of evolution, genetics, diversity, and ecology are integral to all disciplines of biology and must be included in the teaching of microbiology.

Content knowledge     
I.           
Central role of microbes in biology                              

A.            What is a microbe?                              
B.           
Diversity of habitat                              
C.           
Informational control—genetics                              
D.           
Adaptability                                                      

1.            Phenotypic                                                       
2.           
Genotypic     

II.            Influences and impact of microbes                              

A.            Biosphere                                                       

1.            Sustainability                                                       
2.           
Ecological relationships                              

B.            Interrelationships with humans                                                       

1.            Historical perspective                                                       
2.           
Foods and products                                                       
3.           
Health and disease                                                                               

a.            Immune responses                                                                               
b.           
Epidemiology and disease transmission                                                       

4.            Contemporary and societal impact

 

Skills

  • Using scientific principles to make informed decisions
  • Visually examining microbes from natural sources
  • Investigating microbial life
  • Comprehending the extremes of very small organisms and very large numbers (e.g., populations of microbes; years of existence)
  • Practicing laboratory safety
  • Effectively communicating scientific information
  • Presenting and interpreting information in graphic and text form

 

Biotechnology Programs


Background
The recommendations reflect the themes for an Introductory Microbiology course.

Recommendation
Biotechnology programs should include in their requirements a course in microbiology that has a mandatory laboratory component. Topics that are felt to be essential or very important to these programs are in bold type. The principles of evolution, genetics, diversity, and ecology are integral to all disciplines of biology and must be included in the teaching of microbiology.

Content knowledge      
I.           
Microbial cell biology                              

A.            Information flow within a cell                              
B.           
Regulation of cellular activities                              
C.           
Cellular structure and function                             
D.           
Growth and division                              
E.           
Cell energy metabolism     

II.            Microbial genetics                              

A.            Inheritance of genetic information                              
B.           
Causes, consequences, and uses of mutations                              
C.           
Exchange and acquisition of genetic information   

III.            Interactions of microorganisms and hosts and impact of microorganisms on daily life                             

A.            Host defense mechanisms                              
B.           
Microbial pathogenicity mechanisms                              
C.           
Disease transmission                              
D.           
Antibiotics and chemotherapy                               
E.           
Genetic engineering                               
F.           
Biotechnology    

IV.            Interactions and impact of microorganisms in the environment                              

A.            Adaptation and natural selection                              
B.           
Symbiosis                              
C.           
Microbial recycling of resources                              
D.           
Microbes transforming environment

 

Skills—three categories of skills are suggested based on where the skills are learned.

M: Skills that should be learned in a Microbiology course

P: Skills that should be learned in one or more courses in the Biotechnology program, including the Microbiology course

I: Integrative skills that should be used in each course.  All program graduates must have good command of these skills

  • M – Using a microscope
  • M – Culturing bacterial and eukaryotic cells
  • M – Measuring cell growth
  • M – Performing spectroscopy
  • M – Micropipetting (including multichannel pipetting)
  • M – Labeling probes (emphasis on non-isotopic methods)
  • M – Using common laboratory equipment
  • P – Isolating DNA and RNA
  • P – DNA sequencing
  • P – Running the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • P – Restriction mapping
  • P – Purifying proteins
  • P – Running SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis)
  • I – Handling radioisotopes
  • I – Demonstrating computer literacy (with a word processor and spreadsheet)
  • I – Use basic bioinformatics
  • I – Demonstrating familiarity with regulatory standards
  • I – Managing a laboratory (basic skills)
  • I – Speaking and writing clearly and effectively
  • I – Technical writing competency
  • I - Maintaining a laboratory notebook
  • I - Accurate and clear writing
  • I –Demonstrating mathematical skills (at least through college-level algebra)
  • I – Designing experiments
  • I – Making careful observations
  • I –Working as part of a team
  • I – Exhibiting ethical behavior, responsibility, and accountability
  • I - Multitasking

Additional comments

  • Local industry may help design curriculum
  • These are expensive programs requiring capital, equipment, disposable supplies, and faculty development
  • Microbiology course should be followed by practical laboratory experience (e.g., university research or internship)
  • Industry personnel may serve on an advisory board

Industrial partners may have adjunct status.

 

Biology Majors Not Majoring in Microbiology


Recommendation
All graduates with a degree in Biology should know the content areas listed below and be able to demonstrate the listed skills. This would best be achieved by requiring a course in microbiology with a mandatory laboratory component. The topics and skills could be integrated into common core courses of biology majors, with specific microbiological examples. Evolution, genetics, diversity, and ecology are integral to all disciplines of biology. The central role of microbes in biology, their unique metabolic and organismal diversity, and their role in history from the origin of life to modern times must be included in all biology programs.

Content knowledge      
I.           
Microbial cell biology                              

A.            Information flow within a cell and between cells                             
B.           
Cellular structure and function                              
C.           
Growth, division, and death                             
D.           
Cell energy metabolism                              
E.           
Regulation of cellular activities     

II.            Microbial genetics                             

A.            Inheritance of genetic information                              
B.           
Causes, consequences, and uses of mutations                             
C.           
Exchange and acquisition of genetic information                             
D.           
Genetic engineering   

III.            Interactions of microorganisms and hosts and impact of microorganisms on daily life                              

A.            Host defense mechanisms                              
B.           
Pathogenicity mechanisms of cellular and acellular infectious agents                              
C.           
Disease transmission                              
D.           
Control of microbial growth                               
E.           
Antimicrobial agents                               
F.           
Biotechnology and applied industrial microbiology    

IV.            Interactions and impact of microorganisms in the environment                              

A.            Adaptation and natural selection                              
B.           
Symbiosis                              
C.           
Microbial recycling of resources                              
D.           
Microbes transforming the environment

 

Skills      
I.           
Discipline specific                              

A.            Using a microscope                              
B.           
Collecting and preparing specimens                            
C.           
Characterizing microorganisms Microbial characterization                             
D.           
Pipetting and micropipetting                               
E.           
Using aseptic technique                               
F.           
Growing and controlling microorganisms                              
G.           
Making dilutions                              
H.           
Practicing laboratory safety     

II.            General                              

A.            Effectively communicating scientific information                              
B.           
Finding and using appropriate resources                              
C.           
Critically evaluating information, results, and incompatibilities                              
D.           
Demonstrating ethical behavior and scientific integrity

 

Allied Health Majors


Background
The recommendations reflect the themes for an Introductory Microbiology course.

Recommendation
Allied Health programs should include in their requirements a course in microbiology. Topics that are felt to be essential or very important are in bold type, with estimates given for the percent of time devoted to each area. The principles of evolution, genetics, diversity, and ecology are integral to all disciplines of biology and must be included in the teaching of microbiology.

Content knowledge       
I.           
Microbial cell biology (25%)                              

A.            Structure and function of prokaryotic and eucaryotic organisms                              
B.           
Structure and function of acellular infectious agents                              
C.           
Growth and division                              
D.           
Energy metabolism                               
E.           
Regulation of cellular activities     

II.            Microbial genetics (20%)                              

A.            Inheritance and flow of information                             
B.           
Causes, consequences, and significance of mutations                              
C.           
Exchange and acquisition of genetic information                             
D.           
Genetic engineering                              
E.           
Biotechnology   

III.            Interactions of microorganisms and humans (50%)                              

A.            Host defense mechanisms and immune systems                              
B.           
Pathogenicity mechanisms of cellular and acellular infectious agents                             
C.           
Disease transmission                              
D.           
Control of microorganisms                              
E.           
Antimicrobial agents                               
F.           
Epidemiology and public health                              
G.           
Adaptation and natural selection                              
H.           
Symbiosis    

IV.            Interactions and impact of microorganisms in the environment (5%)                              

A.            Microbial recycling of resources                              
B.           
Microbes transforming the environment

 

Skills       
I.           
Discipline specific                              

A.            Practicing laboratory safety                              
B.           
Collecting and handling specimens                             
C.           
Isolating and identifying microorganism (differentiation)                              
D.           
Using a microscope                              
E.           
Pipetting and micropipetting                              
F.           
Using aseptic technique                              
G.           
Growing and controlling microorganisms                             
H.           
Utilizing basic antigen-antibody interactions                               
I.           
Making dilutions     

II.            General                              

A.            Effectively communicating scientific information                              
B.           
Finding and using appropriate resources                             
C.           
Critically evaluating information, results, and incompatibilities                              
D.           
Demonstrating ethical behavior and scientific integrity

 

© 2001 ASM 

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