Assessing Course-Based Research Experiences in Hope College Biology Courses
Dr. Stephen Scogin
While literature indicates authentic research experiences benefit undergraduates, many students do not get the opportunity to participate in small-group research experiences with mentor professors. In an effort to provide more students with these opportunities, course-based research experiences (CREs) were designed to integrate research into whole class settings. CREs allow students to gain research exposure that prepares them for graduate programs and future careers in science. CREs also serve as transitions from traditional “cookie cutter labs” to real research experiences increasing students’ laboratory and cognitive skills. This study analyzed the outcomes of CREs for students in Biology 107 (introductory course) and Biology 301 (microbiology) at Hope College. Using grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), researchers analyzed pre-post interviews and focus group transcripts of students enrolled in both courses. During interviews, students were asked about their ideas on the nature of science, how scientific research is conducted, and the criteria for authentic research. Matrix analysis (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014) was used to investigate the differences and similarities within and between students in the two courses. Our findings revealed that student ideas about research and science did change slightly from the beginning to the end of each course. In addition, differences were noted in how students in the two courses viewed science and scientific research. These results will inform future efforts to refine the CREs at Hope College to be more authentic and beneficial for students.
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