1. Jeffrey Olimpo
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Collaborative Research: Infusing Authentic Research into the Introductory Biology Curriculum - A Multi-Institutional Study
  4. University of Texas at El Paso
  1. Ginger Fisher
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Collaborative Research: Infusing Authentic Research into the Introductory Biology Curriculum - A Multi-Institutional Study
  4. University of Northern Colorado
  1. Kevin Floyd
  2. Postdoctoral Fellow
  3. Collaborative Research: Infusing Authentic Research into the Introductory Biology Curriculum - A Multi-Institutional Study
  4. University of Texas at El Paso
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 12:06 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video.  We are in the second year of the project running the Tigriopus CURE described in the video at multiple and diverse institutions.  We are interested in learning if the positive outcomes in student learning and affect at the University of Northern Colorado, described in this video, will be replicated with different instructor and student contexts.  Those findings will likely be published next year. 

    We would like to find out what success and challenges other people have had with large-scale CUREs, and the sustainability both financially and with instruction more broadly.  We are happy to share more details about this specific CURE, as well as to brainstorm ways to apply the lessons we have learned to other CUREs.  Thanks again!

  • Icon for: Danielle Watt

    Danielle Watt

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 07:04 p.m.

    Hello Kevin,

    How feasible was it to secure diverse partner institutions if faculty are not currently working with Tigriopus and are MSI, HBCUs, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges included in the expansion of your project?

  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:44 a.m.

    Hi Danielle, 

    In addition to Ginger's reply, the current project includes an HSI, two liberal arts colleges, and one community college (although that one has a small class).  And none of the faculty had worked with any type of zooplankton (to my knowledge), but the Tigriopus was selected as a model organism because it is easy to culture and manipulate, so it is feasible from the lab management side, and also because it is a species that has not been widely studied, so students can ask relatively simple questions that are still novel and unknown. 

    Thanks!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Ginger Fisher

    Ginger Fisher

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 05:22 a.m.

    Danielle,

    We did not have much difficulty attracting individuals who were interested. We presented our ideas at an AAC&U conference and had quite a few faculty approach about participating. Of course it helped that the project was funded by NSF and so there were no costs incurred by the institutions. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful group of faculty who were passionate about increasing research opportunities for their students!

  • Icon for: Scott Horrell

    Scott Horrell

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 03:59 p.m.

    One thing I feel like I struggle with when running my freshmen CURE is Myth #1. I feel like I struggle in two ways - 1) How do I teach freshmen students (which I assume have no incoming knowledge of biology or a model organism) enough material in a short amount of time so they are ready to develop a hypothesis? 2) How do I direct them towards experiments that are technically and logistically feasible but still fundamentally devised by them?

    What strategy do you employ to overcome these limitations?

  • Icon for: Jeffrey Olimpo

    Jeffrey Olimpo

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:27 p.m.

    Hi Scott,

    Happy Tuesday! There are several factors that I believe allow for successful implementation of the CURE within the introductory sequence, most notably the manner in which the first half of the semester is structured. In order to prepare students to be successful at conducting research, the first six weeks are devoted to techniques-driven exercises (e.g., microscopy; reading primary literature; introduction to statistics). Importantly, while students are engaged in these exercises, they are directly working with Tigriopus californicus and associated research materials -- examining various lifecycle stages of the organism under the microscope, performing serial dilutions of algae, etc. Ideally, this increases the relevance of the exercise and familiarizes students with the research system. In addition, student teams are concurrently drafting a research proposal that outlines the question(s) they aim to explore, corresponding hypotheses, and appropriate procedures for conducting their study.  There are numerous, iterative opportunities for feedback during this time, which has helped to mitigate some of the concerns addressed in your first question.

    With regard to your second question, I would argue that scaffolding is key. In other words, I might recommend first providing students with some "themes" or areas of potential interest that they could explore. In our case, those "themes" are factors such as food, salinity, temperature, and toxicants. Students are then prompted to narrow down their focus by determining what factor they want to focus on, drafting an initial question, and concretely specifying their independent, dependent, and standardized variables. In this sense, while we provide them with an umbrella to work under, they are still responsible for devising and refining their research question(s) with facilitation and guidance from the course instructor. Having sufficient time built into the semester to tackle this task in an iterative manner also reduces some of the burden associated with feeling the need to have "perfect" questions from the outset.

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Jeffrey Olimpo

    Jeffrey Olimpo

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:39 p.m.

    Hi Scott,

    I would also encourage you to check out our recent publications if you are interested in learning more about the design of the CURE and its impact on cognitive and non-cognitive student outcomes: https://www.lifescied.org/doi/pdf/10.1187/cbe.15-11-0228 and http://www.asmscience.org/docserver/fulltext/jmbe/19/1/jmbe-19-55.pdf?expires=1526442760&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=8182873AAFCDA1702BCD28AB9D251F5C. Thanks! 

     
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    Danielle Watt
  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:35 p.m.

    Hi Scott,

    To add on to Jeff's comments, the intro in our lab manual describes some of the interesting aspects of copepod biology and ecology (e.g., stressful habitat, pollution, food choice, mating behavior), and has 3-4 remaining questions in each area.  This provides some constraint to the students while still allowing them a decent amount of autonomy with developing a question.  As you probably suspect, most students have never heard of a copepod, and most of ours in El Paso have not visited a tide pool, so the information we provide really shapes their questions.  And we do still try to accommodate the unusual questions that come from left field as much as possible.  But the choice of T. californicus as the model organism lends itself to decent questions coming from minimal expertise.  

    And for the experiments, we encourage them to think broadly at first, but then provide a lot of feedback to get them into feasible projects.  We also show them some of the materials available for them to use during the first lab, such as the well plates, growth chambers, different species of algae.  There is a lot of us saying "Cool idea, but we only have 5 weeks to complete this, and what you suggest would require 10 weeks and you'd have to come in on the weekends.  How can you modify the methods to still allow you to answer the research question?"  The students turn in a research question after the lab and a preliminary proposal after the 3rd lab, and they receive the feedback then.  This is a lot of work for the TA early, but it does balance out a bit in the last half of the semester while the students are running their projects and there isn't much to grade.

     

    To summarize all that, we set a relatively narrow range of topics by the material in the lab manual, show them the basic equipment available, and provide early feedback on experimental designs.  At UTEP we have only run the lab two semesters, and are OK with pretty basic questions and studies.  Ginger has been running the CURE at UNC for 4 years now, and has started to add additional constraints to get the students to address the harder topics, like life cycle and mating behavior, instead of various forms of toxicology/temp experiments with mortality as the end point.

    What type of CURE do you teach?  What system or organism do you use?

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Scott Horrell

    Scott Horrell

    Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 10:08 p.m.

    Thank you both for your thoughtful comments and the materials you have provided. The strategies you describe seem like they would be  effective in addressing my concerns and I will definitely lean on your advice in future.

    Previously I had taught an upper-level CURE at Washington University in St. Louis that was very open-ended. We worked with Tetrahymena thermophila and had students do GFP localization, expression analysis, and finished the semester with some fairly advanced experiments of the students' designs (co-IPs, colocalizations, knockdowns, overexpressions). Over the course of several semesters, I was able to test and confirm my major hypothesis - increased student ownership of their project leads to improved learning outcomes. Thus, I have always tried to keep as many choices in the curriculum as possible to foster student ownership.

    When I started working at Harris-Stowe with freshmen, I adapted aspects of the previous course but found myself challenged in the way I describe above. I really struggled to get students interested in Tetrahymena in a short amount of time. Tetrahymena biology is fairly complex and I think this added to my problems. As Kevin says, I think you all have made a very wise decision working with Tigriopus because it lends itself to decent questions from minimal expertise.

    Another interesting aspect of our original design was that we wanted different instructors to develop courses focused on their model organism of choice. That way we could allow them to focus on questions of their interest and draw from their own expertise. As I have worked with other instructors to help them develop their courses I have been able to investigate other model organisms and I have grown to favor C. elegans for a freshman CURE. But here I see another advantage of Tigriopus that you have pointed out - it has not been extensively researched so many questions still remain wide open.

    Thanks again for the responses and sharing the materials. I will share them with our instructors to help them further develop their courses. And the next time I teach the class I will strongly consider using Tigriopus.

  • Icon for: Ginger Fisher

    Ginger Fisher

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:00 a.m.

    Scott,

    If you do decide to use Tigriopus, please feel free to contact any of us and we would be happy to help you with the process!

    Ginger

  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 02:40 p.m.

    Hi Scott, 

    You certainly hit on some of the major decisions and challenges with developing the CURE.  I see lots of benefits of developing the CURE based on particular faculty research, and we run several CUREs like that here at UTEP.  In addition to the challenge of getting novice students up to speed quickly enough to develop their own questions, those types of CUREs seem to have problems with sustainability.  At least at UTEP, they are more expensive, require more time outside of the scheduled lab hours, and only persist as long as the faculty has time and interest.  What were some of your experiences working with more instructor-specific courses?

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  • Icon for: Whitney Erby

    Whitney Erby

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:05 p.m.

    Excellent video! What are some of the major challenges you confront when developing and implementing a CURE class like this? 

  • Icon for: Ginger Fisher

    Ginger Fisher

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:04 a.m.

    Whitney,

    Some of the major challenges associated with the development were 1)choosing the model organism that met all of our specifications, 2)finding the time to put together the new lab manual and all of its associated tasks and assessments and 3) ensuring that the CURE met all of the learning objectives for the lab. In terms of implementation, the challenges were quite different. We had to ensure that the graduate students who teach the CURE were properly trained and excited about this new laboratory experience. We also had to work with the students in the course who initially struggle with the more open-ended format of the lab rather than a prescribed set of tasks. In addition there were logistical issues with getting of the students working on their own experiments and having the equipment and space to do so. However, I am very glad that we were able to meet these challenges and have what we feel is a very successful CURE!

    Ginger

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:34 p.m.

    Thank you very much for posting this video. I think that it gives a very nice overview of the benefits to students (through their own voices), and a practical consideration of costs. For those who are thinking of going down this route or who have already begun, you may be interested to read two recent reports about undergraduate research experiences that have been published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (all publications of the National Academies are available for download without cost through the links provided below):

    The first was published in 2015 and provides a summary of a national convocation about CUREs: Integrating Discovery-Based Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum. The committee and staff who organized this convocation also published a summary about it in CBE/Life Sciences Education and is available at http://www.lifescied.org/content/15/2/fe2.full.pdf+html.

    A more extensive report that examined the research base for the efficacy of undergraduate research experiences (both CUREs and apprentice-based models) was published inn 2017 and was funded by the National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM Students: Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities.

    There is also a community-based website, CURENet, that provides helpful information and discussion forums about course-based undergraduate research experiences. These are primarily in biology but the ideas and more general principles can be adapted to a variety of disciplines.

    :

  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 02:43 p.m.

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for sharing those resources!  The link to the CBE-Life Sci didn't work on my computer, so here is an alternative: https://www.lifescied.org/doi/10.1187/cbe.16-03-0118  

    We are very interested in learning how other schools/groups work to address the scaling and sustainability issues.  We found the choice of T. californicus as the model organism to be key to allowing Ginger to run this CURE in all of the freshman labs at UNC and for several other institutions to run it this past spring with minimal issues.

  • Icon for: William Swift

    William Swift

    Coordinating Producer. PBS NewsHour STEM and Health Student Reporting Labs
    May 16, 2018 | 05:40 p.m.

    This is a very cool example of projectized learning.  One of my favorite recent science stories I heard was that some medical schools are re-thinking having the classic lecture format, that students just don't retain that much from lectures when compared to projectized learning experiences.  In the new paradigm, the students do the reading in advance  and in class have to grapple with a problem or situation and use the skills from their reading or coursework to come up with a solution.  Using the "taught" information in a hands on projectized setting helps student retain the lessons they learn better than listening to a lecture and taking notes.

    How are the results of this program shaping up in comparison to a classic "do the experiment in the lab manual" format?  It seems much more creative and self motivated, which has to be good.

  • Icon for: Ginger Fisher

    Ginger Fisher

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 06:11 a.m.

    William,

    I agree that the lecture format is not the best approach for students to retain information and that a more active learning environment allows students to apply what they are learning. I have been working to increase the amount of active learning in my courses and even have one course that is completely "flipped" where students listen to the lecture material before class and then during class we have discussions, worksheets or analyze research papers. I have found this to be much more effective.

    For the lab that we discuss in this video, we have found some significant benefits to students in terms of both cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. If you are interested, you can find more at  https://www.lifescied.org/doi/pdf/10.1187/cbe.15-11-0228 

     

  • May 18, 2018 | 03:14 p.m.

    Love the fact that students are being encouraged to develop and work on questions they find interesting then given the space and tools to see what they can come up with. Plus, copepods are just cool. 

    One of my favorite experiences in college was a field-based course that I took where we had to come up with a number of different projects over the semester—a certain number had to be ones we thought would take on the order of hours to complete data collection, then a smaller number of more intensive, then a couple of fairly time intensive or longer-duration questions. Iterating, failing, and evaluating those smaller experiments definitely helped me build the skills to become more confident and efficient at developing hypotheses and methods. It also allows more risk-taking earlier in the process by setting up expectations for those smaller experiments to be more manageable, both in terms of impact and outcomes. Is there any scaling like this in the way the students develop questions as a part of CURE?

  • Icon for: Kevin Floyd

    Kevin Floyd

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 08:33 p.m.

    Hi Charles,

    Copepods are cool :)

    Our CURE is structured for the students to complete a single project during the semester, and the projects tend to be fairly simple.  The basic structure of the course has the students designing their research questions parallel to completing labs focused on skills for the first third of the semester.  The remaining time is spent with the students running their projects, finally analyzing data and writing their final papers.  This focus on a single project does allow for some of the iteration you mentioned, as problems in the initial experimental design can hopefully be caught and addressed with enough time to still get something finished.  We (at UTEP) moved the first data analysis lab from the end of the skills section to after the second week of data collection in an attempt to provide more opportunities for iteration, and it seemed to help the rest of the semester run a bit more smoothly.  

    We also run the CURE in a fairly constrained "question space."  We prompt the students by providing the background material relevant to the types of questions that are relatively straightforward to answer.  They still have autonomy to develop their questions within that framework, but this helps minimize the interesting but unfeasible research questions.  This works well for this introductory lab, but I could certainly see loosening those constraints in upper division classes.  And the multiple types of projects you describe sounds like a really valuable learning experience!

    Thanks for your interest in the project!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.