FSBio 201 A CURE-based course that scaffolds research and scientific communication

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S4-9  Tue Jan 5 14:30 – 14:45  FSBio 201: A CURE-based course that scaffolds research and scientific communication Whitenack, LB*; French, LB; Hersh, BM; Nelson, MK; Thu, YM; Allegheny College; Allegheny College; Allegheny College; Allegheny College; Allegheny College lwhitena@allegheny.edu https://sites.google.com/a/allegheny.edu/whitenack/

Course-based undergraduate research experiences are a high-impact practice with a number of positive outcomes, including developing scientific reasoning skills, increasing levels of student persistence in the sciences, and making scientific research more inclusive. At Allegheny College, students are introduced to biological research in FSBio 201, which plays two important and distinct roles in the curriculum. First, it serves as a pivot point within the curricular scaffolding provided by the college First-Year/Sophomore (FS) seminar program, wherein students shift from an emphasis on more general oral and written communication towards an introduction to speaking and writing within particular disciplines as they move toward their required senior project. Second, FSBio serves as the first biology laboratory course for majors and students in related programs. Students rotate among two or three instructors during the semester, completing experiments of their own design in different biology subdivisions, including molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, biomechanics, behavior, and ecology. Students also learn data analysis skills and how to find and read scientific literature critically. At the end of each module, students present their findings orally and write a paper in IMRAD format. Assessments indicate that students make strong learning gains in research and communication skills and that the course has a positive impact on their interest in science. The emphasis on experimental design and scientific communication, rather than specific techniques, also makes the course highly adaptable for either in-person or remote delivery. When virtual delivery was required in Spring 2020, students were introduced to epidemiological research, making use of publicly-available databases.

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