skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on September 21, 2024

Title: Fly-CURE, a multi-institutional CURE using Drosophila , increases students' confidence, sense of belonging, and persistence in research
The Fly-CURE is a genetics-focused multi-institutional Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) that provides undergraduate students with hands-on research experiences within a course. Through the Fly-CURE, undergraduate students at diverse types of higher education institutions across the United States map and characterize novel mutants isolated from a genetic screen in Drosophila melanogaster . To date, more than 20 mutants have been studied across 20 institutions, and our scientific data have led to eleven publications with more than 500 students as authors. To evaluate the impact of the Fly-CURE experience on students, we developed and validated assessment tools to identify students’ perceived research self-efficacy, sense of belonging in science, and intent to pursue additional research opportunities. Our data, collected over three academic years and involving 14 institutions and 480 students, show gains in these metrics after completion of the Fly-CURE across all student subgroups analyzed, including comparisons of gender, academic status, racial and ethnic groups, and parents’ educational background. Importantly, our data also show differential gains in the areas of self-efficacy and interest in seeking additional research opportunities between Fly-CURE students with and without prior research experience, illustrating the positive impact of research exposure (dosage) on student outcomes. Altogether, our data indicate that the Fly-CURE experience has a significant impact on students’ efficacy with research methods, sense of belonging to the scientific research community, and interest in pursuing additional research experiences.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Wang, Jack
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are well-documented as high-impact practices that can broaden participation and success in STEM. Drawing primarily from a community-of-practice theoretical framework, we previously developed an interdisciplinary CURE course (Science Bootcamp) for STEM majors focused entirely on the scientific process. Among first-year students, Science Bootcamp leads to psychosocial gains and increased retention. In the current study, we test whether an online Science Bootcamp also improves outcomes for STEM transfer students—a group that faces “transfer shock,” which can negatively impact GPA, psychosocial outcomes, and retention. To this end, we redesigned Science Bootcamp to a two-week course for STEM transfer students to complete prior to beginning the fall semester at our four-year institution. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was conducted in an entirely virtual format, using primarily synchronous instruction. Despite the course being virtual, the diverse group of STEM majors worked in small groups to conduct rigorous, novel empirical research projects from start to finish, even presenting their results in a poster symposium. Assessment data confirm the compressed, online Science Bootcamp contains key CURE components—opportunities for collaboration, discovery/relevance, and iteration—and that students were highly satisfied with the course. Moreover, in line with our hypothesis, STEM transfer students who participated in the online Science Bootcamp experienced a range of psychosocial gains (e.g., belonging to STEM). In sum, these findings suggest our online Science Bootcamp promotes positive STEM outcomes, representing a highly flexible and affordable CURE that can be scaled for use at institutions of any size. 
    more » « less
  2. Opportunities for undergraduate research in STEM programs at community colleges can be few where lower-division science curriculum emphasizes classroom and laboratory-based learning and research laboratories are limited in number. This is particularly true in the geosciences where specialized programs are extremely rare. Urban serving academic research institutions have a unique role and opportunity to partner with regional community college programs for undergraduate research early-on in student post-secondary educational experiences. Programs built for community college transfer students to urban serving undergraduate programs can serve to integrate students into major programs and help reduce transfer shock. The benefits of exploring research as an undergraduate scholar are numerous and include: building towards mastery of technical skills; developing problem-solving in a real-world environment; reading and digesting scientific literature; analyzing experimental and simulation data; working independently and as part of a team; developing a mentoring relationship with a research advisor; and building a sense of belonging and confidence in a scientific field. However, many undergraduate research internships are targeted towards junior-level STEM majors already engaged in upper-division coursework and considering graduate school which effectively excludes community college students from participating. The Center for Climate and Aerosol Research (CCAR) Research Experience for Undergraduate program at Portland State University serves to help build the future diverse research community. 10-week intern research experiences are paired with an expert faculty mentor are designed for students majoring in the natural/physical sciences but not necessarily with a background in climate or atmospheric science. Additional programmatic activities include: 1-week orientation and training using short courses, faculty research seminars, and hands-on group workshops; academic professional and career development workshops throughout summer; journal club activities; final presentations at end of summer CCAR symposium; opportunities for travel for student presentations at scientific conferences; and social activities. Open to all qualifying undergraduates, since 2014 the program recruits primarily from regional (Northwest) community colleges, rural schools, and Native American serving institutions; recruiting students who would be unlikely to be otherwise exposed to such opportunities at their home institution. Over the past 9 cohorts of REU interns (2014-2019), approximately one third of CCAR REU scholars are community colleges students. Here we present criteria employed for selection of REU scholars and an analysis of selection biases in a comparison of students from community colleges, 4-year colleges, and PhD granting universities. We further investigate differential outcomes in efficacy of the REU program using evaluation data to assess changes over the program including: knowledge, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, science identity, program satisfaction, and career aspirations. In this presentation, we present these findings along with supportive qualitative analyses and discuss their implications for community college students in undergraduate research programs in geosciences. 
    more » « less
  3. Rumain, Barbara T. (Ed.)
    Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are laboratory courses that integrate broadly relevant problems, discovery, use of the scientific process, collaboration, and iteration to provide more students with research experiences than is possible in individually mentored faculty laboratories. Members of the national Malate dehydrogenase CUREs Community (MCC) investigated the differences in student impacts between traditional laboratory courses (control), a short module CURE within traditional laboratory courses (mCURE), and CUREs lasting the entire course (cCURE). The sample included approximately 1,500 students taught by 22 faculty at 19 institutions. We investigated course structures for elements of a CURE and student outcomes including student knowledge, student learning, student attitudes, interest in future research, overall experience, future GPA, and retention in STEM. We also disaggregated the data to investigate whether underrepresented minority (URM) outcomes were different from White and Asian students. We found that the less time students spent in the CURE the less the course was reported to contain experiences indicative of a CURE. The cCURE imparted the largest impacts for experimental design, career interests, and plans to conduct future research, while the remaining outcomes were similar between the three conditions. The mCURE student outcomes were similar to control courses for most outcomes measured in this study. However, for experimental design, the mCURE was not significantly different than either the control or cCURE. Comparing URM and White/Asian student outcomes indicated no difference for condition, except for interest in future research. Notably, the URM students in the mCURE condition had significantly higher interest in conducting research in the future than White/Asian students. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) often involve a component where the outcomes of student research are broadly relevant to outside stakeholders. We wanted to see if building courses around an environmental justice issue relevant to the local community would impact students’ sense of civic engagement and appreciation of the relevance of scientific research to the community. In this quasi-experimental study, we assessed civic engagement and scientific identity gains ( N = 98) using pre- and post-semester surveys and open-ended interview responses in three different CUREs taught simultaneously at three different universities. All three CURES were focused on an environmental heavy metal pollution issue predominantly affecting African–Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. While we found increases in students’ sense of science efficacy and identity, our team was unable to detect meaningful changes in civic engagement levels, all of which were initially quite high. However, interviews suggested that students were motivated to do well in their research because the project was of interest to outside stakeholders. Our observations suggest that rather than directly influencing students’ civic engagement, the “broadly relevant” component of our CUREs engaged their pre-existing high levels of engagement to increase their engagement with the material, possibly influencing gains in science efficacy and science identity. Our observations are consistent with broader community relevance being an important component of CURE success, but do not support our initial hypothesis that CURE participation would influence students’ attitudes toward the civic importance of science. 
    more » « less
  5. Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) are an increasingly utilized model for exposing students to research. The lack of robust assessments is a major hurdle to wider adoption of CUREs. The Coronavirus Infectious Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic necessitated a drastic shift of in-person courses to the online format. Using the Participant Perception Indicator (PPI) survey, we measured students’ self-reported changes in learning from such a biochemistry course at a large university in south Florida based on the Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Lab (BASIL) model. By doing this, we were able to better understand the student-benefits of CUREs and how these benefits are affected by changes in learning modalities between two relevant semesters, i.e., winter and summer of 2020. Anticipated learning outcomes (ALOs) help partially fill the gap left by the loss of physical interaction in experimental procedures. Our analysis indicated that students learned more through bioinformatic experiments compared to their wet-lab counterparts. Using pre- and post- surveys, students reported that their experience and confidence gains lagged behind their knowledge gain of technique-based skills. Students are not as confident in their understanding of techniques when unable to perform those in the physical laboratory. Thus, despite extensive pursuit of the purpose and protocols of the experiments and techniques, neither their experience nor their confidence was on par with their knowledge. This study is one of the first examples demonstrating a quantitative student-learning assessment of a CURE in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The novel assessment strategies targeted to identify gaps in learning mastery could facilitate the adoption of CUREs, fostering opportunities for all undergraduate students to vital laboratory research experiences in STEM. 
    more » « less