1887

Comparing the Impact of Course-Based and Apprentice-Based Research Experiences in a Life Science Laboratory Curriculum

    Authors: Casey Shapiro1,††, Jordan Moberg-Parker2,††, Shannon Toma1, Carlos Ayon1, Hilary Zimmerman1, Elizabeth A. Roth-Johnson3, Stephen P. Hancock4, Marc Levis-Fitzgerald1, Erin R. Sanders2,3,5,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Center for Educational Assessment, Office of Instructional Development, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095; 2: Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095; 3: Department of Life Sciences Core Education, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095; 4: Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095; 5: Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, 251 Hershey Hall, 612 Charles E. Young Dr. South, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Phone: 310-825-1783. E-mail: [email protected].
    • †† These authors contributed equally to the work.
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 186-197. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.1045
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    Abstract:

    This four-year study describes the assessment of a bifurcated laboratory curriculum designed to provide upper-division undergraduate majors in two life science departments meaningful exposure to authentic research. The timing is critical as it provides a pathway for both directly admitted and transfer students to enter research. To fulfill their degree requirements, all majors complete one of two paths in the laboratory program. One path immerses students in scientific discovery experienced through team research projects (course-based undergraduate research experiences, or CUREs) and the other path through a mentored, independent research project (apprentice-based research experiences, or AREs). The bifurcated laboratory curriculum was structured using backwards design to help all students, irrespective of path, achieve specific learning outcomes. Over 1,000 undergraduates enrolled in the curriculum. Self-report survey results indicate that there were no significant differences in affective gains by path. Students conveyed which aspects of the curriculum were critical to their learning and development of research-oriented skills. Students’ interests in biology increased upon completion of the curriculum, inspiring a subset of CURE participants to subsequently pursue further research. A rubric-guided performance evaluation, employed to directly measure learning, revealed differences in learning gains for CURE versus ARE participants, with evidence suggesting a CURE can reduce the achievement gap between high-performing students and their peers.

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2015-12-01
2019-06-18

Abstract:

This four-year study describes the assessment of a bifurcated laboratory curriculum designed to provide upper-division undergraduate majors in two life science departments meaningful exposure to authentic research. The timing is critical as it provides a pathway for both directly admitted and transfer students to enter research. To fulfill their degree requirements, all majors complete one of two paths in the laboratory program. One path immerses students in scientific discovery experienced through team research projects (course-based undergraduate research experiences, or CUREs) and the other path through a mentored, independent research project (apprentice-based research experiences, or AREs). The bifurcated laboratory curriculum was structured using backwards design to help all students, irrespective of path, achieve specific learning outcomes. Over 1,000 undergraduates enrolled in the curriculum. Self-report survey results indicate that there were no significant differences in affective gains by path. Students conveyed which aspects of the curriculum were critical to their learning and development of research-oriented skills. Students’ interests in biology increased upon completion of the curriculum, inspiring a subset of CURE participants to subsequently pursue further research. A rubric-guided performance evaluation, employed to directly measure learning, revealed differences in learning gains for CURE versus ARE participants, with evidence suggesting a CURE can reduce the achievement gap between high-performing students and their peers.

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FIGURE 1

Competency-based research laboratory curriculum (CRLC) for Life Science majors. Course requirements for each path are enclosed in separate gray boxes stemming from arrows labeled Path 1 and 2. Path 1 is comprised of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), and Path 2 is based on an apprenticeship model (designated AREs). The light blue boxes in Path 1 (left panel, AL) and the top pair of red (AR) and gray (AS) boxes in Path 2 denote courses students enroll in during the first of two 10-week terms. The teal boxes in Path 1 (right panel, BL) and the bottom pair of red (BR) and gray (BS) boxes in Path 2 delineate courses student take during the second 10-week term. Both paths are preceded by requisite lower-division courses. Bridging the way to Path 2 is a 10-week Research Acquaintance term, in which students “try out” research with a faculty mentor before deciding to apply to enroll in Path 2. Note that there was a fifth set of Path 1 courses offered during the first two years of the CRLC, but the second course was discontinued and the first course instead became an elective for major credit. Although this set of courses is omitted from the diagram, the final dataset for the surveys in this study includes these participants’ responses as long as they completed both the AL and BL courses.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 186-197. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.1045
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Direct evidence of learning from a rubric-guided evaluation of embedded student assignments in Path 1 (CURE) and Path 2 (ARE). Rubrics were developed using a 3-point performance scale (1 = needs work, 2 = satisfactory, 3 = excellent) and employed to assess student oral presentation slides for Path 1 and Path 2 from the first term (T1) and second term (T2) of the curriculum (for rubrics, see Appendix 9 ). Rubric items were categorized as (A) LOCS or (B) HOCS ( 4 , 19 ). For Path 1, there were 14 LOCS rubric items at T1 and another 14 items at T2. For Path 2 T1 and T2, there were 8 and 10 LOCS rubric items, respectively. With respect to HOCS rubric items, for Path 1 there were 15 and 17 at T1 and T2, respectively. For Path 2, there were 14 HOCS rubric items at T1 and another 14 items at T2. Data points on graphs represent the mean score at each time point for each Path. At T1, the mean scores for Path 2 (red lines) were significantly higher († < 0.05) than Path 1 (blue lines) for both LOCS (A) and HOCS (B). The mean scores for Path 1 (blue lines) at T2 were significantly higher (* < 0.05) than the mean scores at T1 for both HOCS and LOCS items, while Path 2 students (red lines) did not demonstrate measureable gains between these two time points. LOCS = lower-order cognitive skills; HOCS = higher-order cognitive skills; CURE = course-based undergraduate research experience; ARE = apprentice-based research experience.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 186-197. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.1045
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