Paper No. 364-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
CHALLENGES OF IMPLEMENTING A COURSE-BASED UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE (CURE) ON SAN SALVADOR ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS
The Gerace Research Centre located on San Salvador Island, the Bahamas, has a long-standing reputation for providing support for teachers and researchers interested in the diverse and unique tropical environment found in the Bahamas. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has taught an introductory Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas course since the late 1990s. Students taking the introductory course often expressed interest in an advanced course in which they return to the island to further their research interests by conducting a self-selected research project guided by a faculty member. Based upon these requests, the first Advanced Bahamian Research course was taught in Spring 2017 and included four faculty members and nine students. The primary objectives of this course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) were intended to (1) engage students in doing research early in their careers, (2) help students gain practical experience in research methods, and (3) help students produce the best possible scientific manuscript for their research topic. Students were required to meet with a faculty member before the semester began to choose a project. Faculty members helped students with study design and methodology to ensure a successful project; however, the implementation and eventual success of the projects rested in the hands of each student. Each project investigated a novel research question that had not been addressed before, with the end goal being a quality research paper of publishable quality for a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Weekly classroom discussions outlined the necessary steps to writing a manuscript, and read scientific papers based on topics that would be investigated during the trip. Although months of preparation and planning went into the course design, we encountered unexpected challenges in both the classroom and field. We share our challenges in the hopes that they will assist others in the design and implementation phases of these high-impact learning experiences.