Components of a CURE

Components of a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE)

 

What makes an effective course-based research experience?

Besides being held as a class rather than the traditional one-on-one internship, there are features that are common to CUREs, as described in the 2015 CBE-Life Sciences Education paper, Assessment of Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences: A Meeting Report. These include the use of scientific practices, relevance, discovery, collaboration, and iteration. While a single course may not have all five characteristics, they are worthwhile goals to aim for.

 

Scientific practices  These include, but are not limited to, experiment design, data collection, statistical analysis, use of scientific instruments, and communicating findings.

 

Relevance  The topic being studied has relevance or application to the scientific community, industry, or local community. Connection to a practical application, gap in knowledge, or need piques student interest. It also promotes an authentic research experience, with realistic hypotheses. Projects associated with faculty research programs may receive support from grant awards, just as industry partnerships may be a source of support for the course, promoting sustainability.

 

Discovery  The data being generated is novel to the field. Again, this promotes an authentic research experience and rigor in experimental design. The research questions may be instructor or student-generated.

 

Collaboration  Research does not occur in solitude. Working in teams reflects the real research environment, while also increasing efficiency in equipment and reagent use. Students must learn to share scientific principles and findings with their group members, promoting enhanced communication skills.

 

Iteration  Students have the opportunity to observe that research is cyclical in nature, with the solution to one question leading to the generation of a new hypothesis. They also experience the trials of research, in which failure is common, not the exception. Iteration may also occur from year to year, as students build upon previous class findings.

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