February 2013

Accreditation 1.0 is here

Find out more about the degree-certification program

On the Web: Visit http://www.asbmb.org/accreditation.

At the annual meeting: Attend an open meeting with members of the degree-certification working group at 12:30 p.m. April 22 in Room 257B of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center during Experimental Biology 2013.

We are pleased to announce the public release of version 1.0 of the description for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s bachelor’s degree-certification program. We invite all interested parties to read and provide feedback regarding the guidelines and invite interested programs to serve as beta testers by applying for ASBMB-recognized status by June 1. Students enrolled in the inaugural set of recognized programs will be eligible to participate in the degree-certification process during the 2013 – 2014 academic year. In the meantime, we will be piloting the assessment instrument that will be used to determine student eligibility for degree certification, with the 2013 – 2014 assessment serving as the beta version.

What’s in it for me?
The degree-certification program was constructed to meet many of the goals expressed by members of the biochemistry and molecular biology community. The original seed was planted by industry representatives seeking a vehicle to help them better evaluate candidates for entry-level jobs. Further impetus came from the publication of the “Vision and Change” report from the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Teagle Foundation’s report “Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Liberal Education.”

A degree-certification program offered an avenue by which the ASBMB could play an active role in shaping this next stage in the evolution of pedagogy for the molecular life sciences. Each student participating in the certification program will have the opportunity to obtain a national credential that is performance-based and independent of institutional name recognition. Educators will gain access to an independent assessment process that will provide external feedback and meet the growing demands of administrators and accreditation bodies. Programs will have access to a set of expectations from an eminent international scientific advisory board regarding curriculum and infrastructure to help buttress requests for needed personnel and physical infrastructure. Graduate programs, medical schools and employers will have an objective measure of student learning and preparedness.

Will this work?
It is up to you, the BMB community, whether this long-awaited effort succeeds or fails. No program of this nature, even when well-constructed (we hope!), can flourish and gain credibility without buy-in from the constituencies it is intended to serve. During the past several years, we have been the recipients of regular inquiries regarding when this program would go live and how it would be structured. News of our effort even has attracted inquiries from overseas about whether we intend to go international. So now the ball is in your court. Please review the guidelines, provide your feedback, apply for recognition for your program and respond to announcements about the assessment exam. We have built it. Will you come?

Peter J. KennellyPeter J. Kennelly (pjkennel@vt.edu) is a professor and the head of the department of biochemistry at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and chairman of the ASBMB Education and Professional Development Committee.

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