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The benefits of undergraduate research for students are well-documented. However, there isn’t capacity for every student to engage in one-on-one mentored research. The only way to ensure that all students have access to undergraduate research is to include research projects in the curriculum through Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs).
First generation and underrepresented students are less likely to seek out undergraduate research opportunities. Many nontraditional students often lack the time to commit to activities outside the classroom. Course-based research helps address this issue of educational equity.
A CURE is a research project embedded in a course that involves all students.
Key Aspects of a CURE:
To provide a meaningful experience for students, here are some important points to consider.
“Examination of well-developed CUREs has indicated that students and faculty gain similar benefit from this experience as to individualized UR experiences. CUREs also can provide an earlier entry point into research because they can be taken along with coursework that supports the project, whereas individualized UR experiences tend to require students to bring a higher level of disciplinary competence to the beginning of a project.”
(Vandermaas-Peeler et al., 2018)
My research focuses on the ecology of dwarf mistletoes (DM), a plant that parasitizes conifers. I was interested in examining whether different species of DM have different effects on their hosts. The first time I taught Plant Ecology, we set out to quantify the effect of infection of DM on Colorado Piñon. Students participated in the study design, collection, and analysis. We examined effects on growth, reproduction, and bark attributes. Students worked in three corresponding groups to present the results. Following the course, two students continued to work on a specific aspect of the study as an independent research project. They identified a more robust measurement of reproduction which I was able to incorporate the next time I taught the course. Each time I taught the course, we studied a different DM-host complex and each year resulted in an independent research project for one or two students. Each time, students came up with unique measures and interpretations. It was exciting to hear the many fresh and different perspectives and prompted me to look at the system in a new light. The results of these projects eventually culminated in a manuscript that is currently in preparation for publication.
-Kristy L. Duran, PhD | Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research
Hensel, N.H. (Ed.). (2018). Course-Based Undergraduate Research: Educational Equity and High-Impact Practice.Virginia. Stylus Publishing & Council on Undergraduate Research
Vandermaas-Peeler, M.V., Miller, P.C., & Moore, J.L. (Ed.). (2018). Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research. Washington D.C. Council on Undergraduate Research