Paper No. 243-9
Presentation Time: 3:50 PM
DOES LONGER ENGAGEMENT IN UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH LEAD TO A MORE SOPHISTICATED UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF SCIENCE? FRAMEWORK FOR STUDY OF A MULTI-YEAR, COURSE-BASED RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
Evidence-based research continues to affirm that participation in undergraduate research results in numerous cognitive, personal, and professional gains among STEM students. However, emergent research suggests that longer engagement as an undergraduate advances these benefits and is necessary for independent scientific thought to mature. This presentation will report the framework of a new study funded by NSF IUSE which will assess the impact of multi-year, undergraduate research engagement. In our project, we have begun to immerse all of our geoscience majors in a thematic, five-semester research project that is integrated into traditional core courses of the geoscience curriculum. The students will progressively build upon the same individual research projects throughout a sequence of courses, including: (1) Environmental and applied geology, (2) Earth materials and minerals, (3) structural geology, (4) petrology, and (5) the capstone summer geology field course. The student research projects focus on the paleoseismic dynamics and rheological evolution of a Proterozoic shear zone in the Colorado Rockies, which is a major component of our summer geology field camp. As the student projects progress, we will document the longitudinal development of a diverse suite of potential student gains, including: (1) technical research skills such as data acquisition and analysis, and (2) oral and written communication skills to both scientists and the general public. The latter will incorporate the development of social media content for underserved high school target audiences in West Virginia. We will analyze the impact of engagement in multi-year research using three cohorts of students with a robust, mixed-methods assessment plan. The first cohort is currently underway.