Paper No. 186-12
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM
DESIGN OF A PRE-CURRICULUM AND RESEARCH INTEREST EXPLORATION, PRIOR TO THE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, TO BETTER PREPARE STUDENT RESEARCHERS
A pre-curriculum that prepares students for engaging in research can better prepare and promote research opportunities to student populations that do not view themselves as being researchers. Ideally, this pre-curriculum should target students at the first year or pre-major declaration. Engaging students early to both learn the role of research and provide time to explore/understand curiosity encourages students to explore and consider non-traditional STEM fields, such as earth sciences, and other applied sciences and social sciences. The NC School of Science and Math, a University of North Carolina campus, is a statewide high school that serves 11th and 12th grade students in a boarding school and online school. For over 30 years, NCSSM has placed students with researchers at Research Triangle Park area universities, and now the program places over 200 students during the academic year and summer. Known as Mentorship Explorations, the program permits students to seek a research mentor in any field of study they are curious to explore. This curriculum provides a foundation for students to understand and build confidence in their role in a research project prior to starting the project. In the last year, NCSSM built an extensive pre-curriculum program that prepares students the semester prior to entering a research mentors lab or research project. This pre-curriculum goals for students include a) Experience curiosity and learn the research process that leads to discovery and the workflow, regulations, and common terminology shared by research scholars. b) Learn the discrete steps and personal tracks to prepare for the research process, including expectations and what success and failure looks like in research c) Investigate and refine potential areas of interest in research and develop the professional communication skills to engage a mentor d) Build confidence and engage in resources that build motivation to actively pursue research and e) Identify and evaluate scholarly literature, and build information literacy skills to create a product that reflects their future reading/research.