Incorporating Research into Science Courses

Decorative: Icon of a student with a microscope


"Incorporating Research into Science Courses" (web page) outlines "several ways to introduce students to scientific research in credit-bearing courses, ranging from investigations of the literature to incorporation of course-based research experiences."

Questions engaged include the following:

A. "Can you get research benefits without doing lab or fieldwork?"

"Several groups have demonstrated that careful analysis of common forms of science communication (e.g., the research talk and primary research articles) can provide ... a low-barrier, low-resource gateway for students into research."

  • "'Deconstructing' scientific research: Using the research talk to help students understand the research process and how knowledge is constructed"
  • "Following the path: Using the CREATE model to analyze scientific literature and understand the process of discovery"

B. "What are different ways to implement research experiences for undergraduates in your courses?"

"The Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Network (CUREnet) defines undergraduate research in a credit-bearing course as an experience that integrates five essential elements":

  • "Engagement in multiple scientific practices, such as asking questions, building and evaluating models, proposing hypotheses, designing studies, and gathering and analyzing data"
  • "Discovery, meaning that students are 'addressing novel scientific questions aimed at generating and testing new hypotheses."
  • "Work that fits into a larger scientific effort relevant beyond the scope of the course"
  • "Collaboration, both among students and between students and instructors"
  • "Iteration, to increase the reliability or scope of findings"

C. How have other instructors adapted their research for use in a course?

The article offers several examples of CUREs [Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences] and develops the following 9 "key elements that are consistent among these and other CUREs":

  • "Well-defined problems"
  • "Important but not 'hot'"
  • "Bite-sized projects"
  • "Common tools, different problems"
  • "Amenable to iteration"
  • "Low resource requirements"
  • "Student collaboration"
  • "Faculty guidance"
  • "Collaboration across institutions"

D. "How have other instructors introduced student-driven research projects into their courses?"

The article offers examples and develops 5 "common characteristics":

  • "Discovery"
  • "Bite-sized projects"
  • "Low resource requirements"
  • "Student collaboration"
  • "Faculty guidance"

E. What existing tools can I use for assessment?

"There are several existing tools that can be used to assess undergraduate research experiences, including the following":

  • "CURE Survey (Lopatto and Tobias, 2010), which incorporates three elements: an instructor report of the extent to which the CURE resembles scientific research; student report of learning gains; student report of attitudes toward science."
  • "Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS)"
  • "Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) (Hunter et al., 2009)"
  • "Scientific identity scale (Chemers et al., 2011; Estrada et al., 2011)"
  • "The Project Ownership Survey (Auchincloss et al., in press)"
  • "Views of the nature of science questionnaire (Lederman et al, 2002)"

F. What are additional resources?

  • CUR (Council for Undergraduate Research)
  • CUREnet (Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Network)
  • CASPiE (Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education)