GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 305-7
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


FORTNER, Sarah K., Geology, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH 45501 and BURGETT, Amber A., Environmental Science, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH 45501,

<span" roman"="Roman"" new="New">Course based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) that are designed around the wicked problems that communities tackle: 1) build student research skills and agency, 2) provide students with outside resources, mentors, and audiences that expand their professional opportunities, 3) contribute directly to societal betterment, and 4) promote resilience through collaboration and resource sharing. An ongoing InTeGrate Sustainability Implementation Program at Wittenberg University, a liberal arts institution, has nearly doubled the number of sustainability courses across disciplines. Expanding from this success, ten faculty from seven departments will pilot CUREs in partnership with local experts that work directly to address wicked problems in storm water, environmental health issues, community development, and food security. Here we present evidence that designing CUREs around authentic wicked problems benefits students and our community. In particular, we detail assessment results from an introductory environmental science course, an upper level environmental science methods course, and an upper level biogeochemistry course. These courses included service learning projects evaluating ecosystem services of a park, mapping soil lead for urban garden groups, and characterizing land use and climate influences on water quality with a watershed manager. Courses were assessed using the CURE Survey and a Community Service Attitudes Scale that will be used in our larger implementation. In all three courses, students report gains across learning elements commonly associated with CURES (e.g. analyzing data, critiquing the work of others) and declines in elements associated with other pedagogical approaches (e.g. lecture, use of a textbook, taking a test). Differences in learning and attitudinal shifts may relate to course level and emphasis.