Redefining Authentic Research in Introductory Biology

Return to search results | New search

Title of Abstract: Redefining Authentic Research in Introductory Biology

Name of Author: Rachelle Spell
Author Company or Institution: Emory University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.)
Keywords: authentic research, introductory biology, laboratory education, barriers, science process skills

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Christopher Beck, Emory University

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Vision and Change calls for integrating research experiences into biology education for all students. This integration can be achieved by incorporating authentic research experiences in introductory biology laboratory courses. The goal of the project was to define the essential components of authentic research in introductory biology courses, determine the barriers to implementing authentic research experiences, and evaluate the current practices in introductory biology in relation to authentic research experiences.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: In order to foster authentic research experiences in the introductory biology curriculum, we gathered a network of faculty who represent several successful models of implementing research at the introductory level. We also conducted a national survey of faculty on research experiences found in their introductory biology labs. The efforts of this network were presented at several conferences.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: We evaluated the impact of the project in two ways. First, we examined the response to our national survey. 279 survey respondents provided information about 534 courses at a diverse range of institution types. Second, we examined attendance at the meetings associated with our network. Our meetings at the Council on Undergraduate Research conference and the Introductory Biology Project conference were well-attended with over 100 faculty participating in each meeting.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: We anticipate that by more clearly defining authentic research in the context of introductory biology laboratory courses and determining the barriers to implementing authentic research, we will see an increase in authentic research in introductory biology courses.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: To date, there have not been any unexpected challenges.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have disseminated the outcomes of our national survey and examples of authentic research activities at the Council on Undergraduate Research conference and the Introductory Biology Project conference. In addition, we presented posters on the results of our survey at the meeting of the Ecology Research as Education Network and at the Association for Biology Laboratory Education conference. We are currently preparing a manuscript on the results of our survey for publication.

Acknowledgements: We thank all of the participants in the REIL-Biology network. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DBI-1061798). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessary reflect the views of the National Science Foundation