California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Biological Sciences Department

Technology Plan

March, 1996

Curtis Clark, Daniel Stiffler, Kristen Bozak, Jill Adler, Glenn Kageyama


Opportunities

Throughout its history, the Biological Sciences Department has had two opportunities. The first is to provide our students with a solid education in biology, following the Cal Poly creed of "learning by doing". Although theory has always been a crucial part of our curriculum, our students have the "hands-on" experience with organisms, processes, and instrumentation that has enabled them to succeed after graduation. Along with many other departments at Cal Poly, the department has kept the "technic" in Polytechnic.

The second opportunity is to provide students in many disciplines of biology with instruction on the "cutting edge" of the field. Because many of our faculty succeed in professional development through collaboration with scientists at other institutions, we are well aware of current directions. We bring that knowledge to our students, often more effectively than at research universities, where the faculty are less involved in undergraduate instruction.

Challenges

Our ability to meet these opportunities has been severely challenged in recent years:

Achievements

Despite the challenges we face, the department has used a number of approaches to meet the needs for instructional technology. Unrepairable equipment is routinely "parted out" for repair of similar functional items. Equipment is often fashioned in-house (although "home-made" equipment constructed by retired faculty loses its value quickly). Curricula are modified to make best use of the remaining instrumentation. All of these are stopgap measures, but they have effectively postponed the negative consequences for the quality of education.

The integration of computer technology has been even more successful. Our efforts began in 1985 with a grant from the National Science Foundation to introduce computer data acquisition and analysis in upper division courses. A few years later another NSF grant supported computer image analysis on the scanning electron microscope. Currently, the CALI program is introducing computer-assisted instruction in lower division labs. All department faculty now have computer workstations, and the department has a growing presence on the World Wide Web.

Plans

Conclusions

The Biological Sciences Department will continue to aggressively meet the challenge of providing a quality education with limited support for technology. It is clear, however, that this process has its limits, and without effective remedy for the problems of outdated equipment and deteriorating facilities, all our efforts will ultimately be futile.
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This page prepared by Curtis Clark, jcclark@csupomona.edu
Last revision Thursday, April 24, 1997.