Research

“Whether or not undergraduates who participate in research ultimately choose research careers, their participation improves their ability to understand how ... scientists conduct research and better prepares them to evaluate science and scientific claims in their day-to-day lives.” (AAAS, 2009)

Course Design Centered Around Research Experiences

A growing body of evidence shows that undergraduate science students, especially women and underrepresented minorities, benefit from research experiences (Auchincloss et al., 2014; Russell, Hancock, & McCullough, 2007; Linn, Palmer, Baranger, Gerard, & Stone, 2015). However, 1:1 mentored research opportunities are, by nature, limited by faculty availability and/or financial resources. One approach to increasing student access to research is through course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), which can accommodate more participants and mitigate barriers associated with traditional research mentorship models (Bangera, Brownell, & Hatfull, 2014). A CURE course is defined by five characteristics: use of disciplinary practices, the discovery of an unknown outcome, broad relevance, collaboration, and iteration (Auchincloss et al., 2014; Ballen et al., 2017). For more details on these elements of a CURE, and the benefits for student learning and faculty teaching, please see this Sheridan resource.

In collaboration with Brown's HHMI initiative, the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning is engaged in a number of initiatives to enhance Brown University students’ capacities for doing research. These initiatives are part of the Brown Learning Collaborative and include a CURE Faculty Institute and an undergraduate course “The Theory and Practice of Problem Solving and Research” (UNIV 1110), which focuses on helping Undergraduate TAs be effective peer teachers in STEM CUREs. The students in UNIV 1110 engage in a research project the second half of the term to gain a better understanding of what students in a CURE experience and reflect on their own learning, in order to become highly effective problem solvers and researchers themselves.

CURE Faculty Institute

The CURE Faculty Institute offered faculty evidence-based practices for creating course-based research experiences that focus on student inquiry and promote student learning. Faculty applied to receive up to $32,000 to develop a course, or module within a course, that focuses on research. Support for course development included professional training on course design based on emergent practices within the CURE model, individual consultation and feedback, a supportive cohort of peers, easily adaptable course materials, and standardized course assessment. Participants were encouraged to co-design their course with a fellow faculty member, postdoc, graduate student, and/or undergraduate teaching assistant(s). Participants also had the option of creating a community-engaged CURE, working in collaboration with the Swearer Center. 

CURE Design Institute Awardees & CURE Courses

Spring 2019

  • Daniel Harris: Advanced Fluid Mechanics (ENGN 1860)
  • Neil Sarkar & Elizabeth Chen: Methods in Informatics and Data Science for Health (BIOL 1555)

Fall 2019

  • Ruth Colwill & Andrea Megela Simmons: Life Under Water in the Anthropocene (CLPS)
  • Alexander Fleischmann & Monica Linden: Open-Source Big Data Neuroscience Lab (NEUR)
  • Louis Lapierre & Joslyn Mills-Bonal: Characterizing the Aging Process Using Caenorhabditis elegans and Reverse Genetics (BIOL)

Spring 2020

  • Fulvio Domini: Experimental analysis of vision for action and vision for perception: Are there separate mechanisms? (CLPS)
  • Daniel Harris: Advanced Fluid Mechanics (ENGN 1860)
  • Eric Victor: Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 0500)

Fall 2020

  • Tyler Kartzinel: Conservation in the Genomics Age (BIOL 1515/2015)

Resources

If you are interested in learning more about CUREs, or thinking about how to incorporate authentic research experiences into your own course, here are some helpful resources.

References

AAAS. (2009). Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: A call to action. Washington, DC, AAAS.

Auchincloss, L. C., Laursen, S. L., Branchaw, J. L., Eagan, K., Graham, M., Hanauer, D. I., … Dolan, E. L. (2014). Assessment of course-based undergraduate research experiences: A meeting report. CBE Life Sciences Education, 13(1), 29-40. doi:10.1187/cbe.14-01-0004.

Ballen, C. J., Blum, J. E., Brownell, S., Hebert, S., Hewlett, J., Klein, J. R., … Cotner, S. (2017). A call to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) for nonmajors courses. CBE Life Sciences Education, 16(2), mr2. doi:10.1187/cbe.16-12-0352.

Bangera, G., Brownell, S. E., & Hatfull, G. (2014). Course-based undergraduate research experiences can make scientific research more inclusive. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 13(4), 602-606. doi:10.1187/cbe.14-06-0099.

Brownell, S. E., Hekmat-Scafe, D. S., Singla, V., Chandler Seawell, P., Conklin Imam, J. F.,

Eddy, S. L., Stearns, T., Cyert, M. S. (2015). A high-enrollment course-based undergraduate research experience improves student conceptions of scientific thinking and ability to interpret data. CBE Life Sciences Education, 14(2), ar21. doi:10.1187/cbe.14-05-0092.

Linn, M. C., Palmer, E., Baranger, A., Gerard, E., & Stone, E. (2015). Undergraduate research experiences: Impacts and opportunities. Science, 347(6222).

Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2007). Benefits of undergraduate research experiences. Science, 316(5824), 548.