Inside the undergraduate immunology classroom: Current practices that provide a framework for curriculum consensus

Heather A. Bruns, Brian D. Wisenden, Thiru Vanniasinkam, Rebekah T. Taylor, Samantha L. Elliott, Rebecca L. Sparks-Thissen, Louis B. Justement, Sumali Pandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Although immunological research has become increasingly important in recent decades for understanding infectious and immune-mediated diseases, immunological pedagogy at the undergraduate level has lagged behind in reports of evidence-based scholarship. To address the need for a renewed emphasis on immunology education and to describe the current status of undergraduate education in immunology, an online survey of instructors with experience in teaching immunology was conducted. The survey investigated the effects of instructors’ level of teaching experience, target student population, and course components on the emphasis given to certain immunology subtopics in their courses. Instructor teaching experience and current role in teaching influenced the proportion of time allotted to lab techniques, clinical topics, and evolutionary aspects, but type of institution (undergraduate and graduate degree-granting institutions) did not affect course content or emphasis on subtopics. Topics that received the greatest emphasis were the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, host–pathogen interactions, and molecular mechanisms. Vaccines, hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, and essential immunology techniques were ranked slightly lower, while topics such as evolution, metabolism and antibody purification received the least emphasis. Inclusion of a lab component increased time given to lab-related and clinical topics but did not affect the perceived importance of various scientific competencies. These data describe current curricular practices of instructors who have experience teaching immunology and inform curricular priorities and course design frameworks for undergraduate immunology education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biology Education
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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