UNCG Campus Weekly

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Course-based undergraduate research experiences: UNCG receives grant, will host summit

UNCG URSCO director Dr. Lee Phillips, Dr. Joanne Murphy and Dr. Iglika Pavlova have been awarded a UNC system Undergraduate Research Award.

UNC system announced the selection, granting $100,000 in funding to support projects that span nine UNC institutions. Phillips’s multi-university team, composed of UNCG, NC A&T State, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, will collaborate to promote the development of CUREs (course-based undergraduate research experiences) across the system.

The overarching goals of the UNCG-led project are to: 1) Promote the development of CUREs; 2) Create a network of CURE developers on each partnering campus, as well as across the entire UNC system; and 3) Develop a system-wide, two-day CURE Summit designed to bring together a community of faculty, administrators, and students from a variety of disciplines to discuss best practices in undergraduate research.

UNCG will host that systemwide CURE Summit April 30-May 1 in the EUC, and will host subsequent teleconferences, says Phillips.

Registration information can be found at http://utlc.uncg.edu/ursco

Undergraduate research is a learning tool in which undergraduate students explore a topic or discipline and make a unique contribution to the research or scholarship in that field. It is typically carried out in close collaboration with a faculty mentor and is is a key contributor to student success.

Students who participate in undergraduate research are generally more likely to remain in school and are more likely to engage in various professional activities. They are also more likely to continue their education beyond their undergraduate studies and are more competitive for jobs.

The grant proposal notes that despite the widespread advantages of undergraduate research, few students participate because the experience is most commonly limited to the traditional apprentice model where one student works with one faculty member. This model is time-consuming for the faculty member and favors students whose cultural background and earlier educational training allow them to stand out and be selected for such an experience. This greatly restricts the overall impact of undergraduate research on the full student body. To counter these limitations, recent efforts in higher education have focused on the integration of research and research skills development into the curriculum, including introductory and general education courses and advanced major-centered courses.

CUREs constitute one recent model for combatting the limited accessibility of undergraduate research by introducing large numbers of students to research in the classroom.

Since their introduction a few years ago, these inquiry-based classes have been growing in popularity with documented successful impact, predominantly in the STEM disciplines.

The specific goals of the CURE Summit, hosted on the UNCG campus, are for participants to 1) learn about CURE effectiveness, design and implementation, 2 2) learn about discipline-specific CURE design, 3) design, develop, and exchange ideas for CUREs across the disciplines, 4) develop a network of CURE users through interaction and work-sharing and 5) create a venue for the promotion of Undergraduate Research across the UNC system.

The CURE Summit will facilitate the exchange of ideas and generate specific deliverables that support faculty in CURE development, implementation, scaling curricula, assessment, and troubleshooting.

Learn more about UNCG Undergraduate Research and CUREs at http://utlc.uncg.edu/ursco.

Photography by Katie Loyd. R-L, Dr. Lee Phillips, Dr. Joanne Murphy and Dr. Iglika Pavlova meet regarding CUREs.