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1.      (Lopatto, 2010) 

To answer the question whether undergraduate research experiences lead to benefits, Lopatto measured self-reported learning gains using a survey.  Three areas showed strong effects of undergraduate apprentice-style research experiences: (1) educational experiences were enhanced measured in learning gains and satisfaction with the program, (2) Mentoring and mentoring programs were key to success, and (3) minority and underrepresented students performed equally and were retained at the same rates as white students. 

I currently use the SURE survey and limitations of this approach are highlighted.  First, validation of results is key, but we need to ask questions about validity of the findings carefully; who is better than students to report if they are more confident or what careers they wish to pursue?  However, are they better at the bench or do they think more critically?  These claims should be validated by an independent method.  Lopatto seems defensive at the end of the paper and assesses such issues as controls (really difficult to find appropriate), validity (depends on the statement or question), and reliability (in the case of SURE, it’s high). 

 

2.      (Harrison, Dunbar, Ratmansky, Boyd, & Lopatto, 2011) 

To address how classroom-based research during the first undergraduate year impacts student’s career choices, these researchers used a pre-post survey and focus group approach to measure attitudes toward science, research, practice of science, and career choices.  Undergraduates reported increased interest in pursuing different career options after taking the research-intensive course.  Students also reported greater enthusiasm for science and an enhanced appreciation for working like a scientist and making discoveries. 

This paper had an amazing bibliography from which I have gathered many more reading materials.  The authors start by saying that we all agree that classroom-based research has benefits.  They were interested in narrow questions focused on career choices, enthusiasm and confidence, and appreciation for scientific work.  This paper forces me to re-think my questions and perhaps narrow my research focus to one or two aspects of classroom-based research effects.  Ideas: Do critical thinking skills improve after doing original science in the classroom?  Does doing scientific research improve student’s rational thinking processes?  Do the impacts change between non-majors, first-year majors, and upperclassmen/graduate students?  Do student better understand the nature of science, especially non-majors? 

 

3.      (Sadler, Burgin, McKinney, & Ponjuan, 2010) 

These authors surveyed the literature regarding the effects of research apprenticeships focusing on three classes of peer-reviewed empirical studies: high school students, undergraduates, and science teachers.  Outcomes included (1) expanded career choices after the apprenticeship experience, (2) enhanced understanding of the nature of science, although explicit training was generally necessary to achieve the desired goals, (3) gains in content acquisition, (4) confidence in student’s abilities to do science, especially future teachers, (5) gains in skills acquisition, including research process, communication, team work, technical and computer skills, information retrieval, literature reading, ethics, and statistics skills, (6) satisfaction with the research experiences was generally high, (7) gains were reported in understanding discourse practices, or understanding standards of communication within a field and the students ability to communicate among members of the field, (8) expanded collaboration, especially among teachers, (9) some changes in teaching practice were reported, although not regularly and the sample size was small. 

This paper offered good surveys (VNOS, BASSSQ), but I will need to read more primary literature to see what these are about. 

 

4.      (Weaver, Russell, & Wink, 2008) 

This short paper introduces two concepts.  First, they have a nice diagram showing the range of research experiences from traditional verification labs to independent apprentice-style research training.  Then, they introduce the idea that you can have students who enroll in your class perform original, authentic research.  They give an example from their own work (CASPiE) and summarize other’s work [freshman research initiative at UT-Austin, REEL program at Ohio State University, Hanauer Phage isolation program (PHIRE) and UCLA Drosophila work].  They also mention some benefits of doing classroom-based research and predict that this will be the future of classroom instruction. 

This paper demonstrates that others are doing research with their classroom students.   

 

5.      (Chen et al., 2005) 

This work introduces an undergraduate course at UCLA that generates useful fruit fly (Drosophila) genomics discoveries.  Students learn about genetics in lecture while creating professional-quality research data in the laboratory.  Computer data analysis, projects that require students to write a grant proposal and a scientific paper, and virtual laboratory experiences complete student training experiences.   

While these authors nicely share their approach, they do not share any data regarding student learning outcomes, so this work is of limited utility to my project other than to say that these efforts are being done elsewhere. 

 

6.      (Hanauer et al., 2006) 

This work shared results of high school program to isolate and identify phage, but NOT part of a classroom experience.  This program uses undergraduates as research mentors and has trained many participants.  There are no results in this paper that relate its impact on student learning, but there is a nice list of problems with traditional teaching methods. 

This is the PHIRE program, and it is a relevant endeavor but not directly applicable to classroom studies.   

 

7.      (Russell, Hancock, & McCullough, 2007) 

These authors surveyed undergraduates participating in undergraduate research opportunities (UROs) an found that a URO each in a student’s career helped influence decisions to obtain a Ph.D.  Other benefits included (1) increased understanding, confidence, and awareness of research and research skills, (2) clarification of career interests in STEM fields, (3) increased anticipation of obtaining a Ph.D., (4) involvement in the “culture” of research (attending conferences, mentoring other students, authoring journal papers) increased Ph.D. aspirations, (5) quality mentoring played a large role in facilitating positive outcomes, and (6) ethnic minorities were most affected by URO experiences.   

These authors recommend infusion of research experiences early in science careers such as for elementary and high school students and college freshman and sophomores.  While a summary of efforts, this paper is useful for indicating early career preparedness in the introduction of my paper. 

8.      (Pfund, Pribbenow, Branchaw, Lauffer, & Handelsman, 2006) 

These authors describe a strong program to train research mentors, primarily graduate students and post-docs at UW-Madison.  Their program uses a scientific approach to mentoring (like scientific teaching) and prepares mentors by having them read articles, create mentoring philosophies, explore time management strategies, discuss mentoring issues, and devise ways to accommodate diversity.  They evaluate their approaches and design strategies to develop confidence, creativity, and independence in their mentees.  Mentoring improved the student experience when measured against students whose mentors did not participate in the training.  Overall, good communication was key to good mentoring. 

While peripherally related to my project, this paper demonstrates one key piece to a successful program, namely, training the trainers.  I will make note of these concerns and be sure to provide input to the other faculty who adopt classroom research. 

 

9.      (Ronsheim, Pregnall, Schwarz, Schlessman, & Raley-Susman, 2009) 

Students taking this revised course do inquiry-based labs that illustrate major principles in biology (evolution, molecular biology, biodiversity, etc.).  The experiments are NOT authentic, original research that leads to publication, but topics change with faculty expertise and student interest.  A laboratory practical exam was used to assess student learning.  Also, a survey was used to assess student self-reported fluency with learning objectives.  Gains in student confidence were observed.  Some thought was placed on the broader impacts of this work approach, especially elsewhere in the curriculum (i.e. upper-division courses).  Benefits included a greater ability of students to use the primary literature, increased student confidence and enthusiasm, Increased student skills in the laboratory, and increased sophistication of student abilities. 

I like the lab practical approach to assess what students have actually learned.  The assessment tools were otherwise weak, based on student self-reporting and instructor impressions.  Learning gains, however, were large and significant.   

 

10.   (Shaffer et al., 2010) 

This paper describes a large sequence improvement and annotation effort that uses a central data warehouse accessed by many institutions and students from across the nation.  These authors used the SURE survey with added questions to assess student learning gains and directly measured student knowledge gains using a pre-test/post-test format.  Faculty opinions were also sampled using a survey.  Students who participated in the project scored significantly higher on the knowledge examination than those who did not participate.  Faculty reported that participating students showed higher problem solving abilities, greater independence, increased application of what they were learning to other problems, increased peer-to-peer interactions, greater teamwork and collaboration skills, understood the research process, developed ownership of the project, and displayed deeper understanding of biological concepts.  Students also agreed that the experience helped them to become a more active learner.  Faculty reported generally positive responses to the program. 

This resource demonstrates that you can modify instruments for your own purposes and expands the benefits of undergraduate research.  I get the feeling that there are no new territories, but am leaning toward nature of science questions.  This is incremental, not revolutionary science, but something that is manageable.  I’d like to compare non-majors, first year science majors, and upper division majors/grad student responses to the approach. 

 

Reference List 

 

Chen, J., Call, G. B., Beyer, E., Bui, C., Cespedes, A., Chan, A. et al. (2005). Discovery-based science education: Functional genomic dissection in Drosophila by undergraduate researchers. Plos Biology, 3, 207-209. 

Hanauer, D. I., Jacobs-Sera, D., Pedulla, M. L., Cresawn, S. G., Hendrix, R. W., & Hatfull, G. F. (2006). Teaching scientific inquiry. Science, 314, 1880-1881. 

Harrison, M., Dunbar, D., Ratmansky, L., Boyd, K., & Lopatto, D. (2011). Classroom-Based Science Research at the Introductory Level: Changes in Career Choices and Attitude. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 10, 279-286. 

Lopatto, D. (2010). Undergraduate research experiences support science career decisions and active learning. CBE-Life Science Education, 6, 297-306. 

Pfund, C., Pribbenow, C. M., Branchaw, J., Lauffer, S. M., & Handelsman, J. (2006). The merits of training mentors. Science, 311, 473-474. 

Ronsheim, M. L., Pregnall, A. M., Schwarz, J., Schlessman, M. A., & Raley-Susman, K. M. (2009). Teaching outside the Can: A New Approach to Introductory Biology. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 35, 12-22. 

Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2007). Benefits of undergraduate research experiences. Science, 316, 548-549. 

Sadler, T. D., Burgin, S., McKinney, L., & Ponjuan, L. (2010). Learning science through research apprenticeships: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, 235-256. 

Shaffer, C. D., Alvarez, C., Bailey, C., Barnard, D., Bhalla, S., Chandrasekaran, C. et al. (2010). The Genomics Education Partnership: Successful Integration of Research into Laboratory Classes at a Diverse Group of Undergraduate Institutions. CBE - Life Sciences Education, 9, 55-69. 

Weaver, G. C., Russell, C. B., & Wink, D. J. (2008). Inquiry-based and research-based laboratory pedagogies in undergraduate science. Nature Chemical Biology, 4, 577-580. 

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