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Biology Laboratories: Are They Disappearing?

Are colleges dropping biology laboratories? Some people say yes, while others don't see it. Both sides agree, however, that economic factors could result in the demise of labs in some college biology courses. Paleobotanist Jeffrey Osborn, of the biology department at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a Washington, DC-based consultancy that conducts external reviews for biology departments. The results of these reviews are con

Myrna Watanabe
Are colleges dropping biology laboratories? Some people say yes, while others don't see it. Both sides agree, however, that economic factors could result in the demise of labs in some college biology courses.

Paleobotanist Jeffrey Osborn, of the biology department at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a Washington, DC-based consultancy that conducts external reviews for biology departments. The results of these reviews are confidential, though Osborn notes that some programs are reducing labs. But, Osborn admits that there are no statistics; the biological sciences do not have an accrediting organization similar to that of the American Chemical Society, which accredits undergraduate chemistry degree programs.

Geneticist Marvin Druger, chair of the department of science teaching and professor of biology at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, believes that the trend is for colleges dropping biology labs, though his university is not...

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