An instructional definition and assessment rubric for bioinformatics instruction

William E. Tapprich, Letitia Reichart, Dawn M. Simon, Garry Duncan, William McClung, Neal Grandgenett, Mark A. Pauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The lack of an instructional definition of bioinformatics delays its effective integration into biology coursework. Using an iterative process, our team of biologists, a mathematician/computer scientist, and a bioinformatician together with an educational evaluation and assessment specialist, developed an instructional definition of the discipline: Bioinformatics is “an interdisciplinary field that is concerned with the development and application of algorithms that analyze biological data to investigate the structure and function of biological polymers and their relationships to living systems.” The field is defined in terms of its two primary foundational disciplines, biology and computer science, and its interdisciplinary nature. At the same time, we also created a rubric for assessing open-ended responses to a prompt about what bioinformatics is and how it is used. The rubric has been shown to be reliable in successive rounds of testing using both common percent agreement (89.7%) and intraclass correlation coefficient (0.620) calculations. We offer the definition and rubric to life sciences instructors to help further integrate bioinformatics into biology instruction, as well as for fostering further educational research projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • assessment of educational activities
  • bioinformatics
  • computational biology
  • genomics
  • proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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