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Development of Assessment Strategies for Undergraduate Research Based Courses

Grant Winners

  • Arthur Sikora, Ph.D. – Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences
  • Santanu De, Ph.D. – Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences
  • Minhal Khoja – Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences
  • Dr. Anya Goodman – California Polytechnic State University
  • Dr. Trevor Anderson – Purdue University
  • Dr. Nancy Palaez – Purdue University


  • Richard Dodge, Ph.D. – Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences


Award Winners Experiential and career-based learning opportunities are exciting for students and instructors alike. They allow for a classroom to become a place of discovery and exploration in ways that traditional lecture and cookbook labs can never replicate. Course based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) are a type of experiential learning that introduces research into the regularly scheduled lab sections of a course. When done right the students not only learn the concepts but also gain valuable practice with analysis, error analysis as well as an insight for future careers. Furthermore, the experiential course model can be adapted to almost any subject and level of student. This wealth of benefits has attracted many institutions to start or increase support for these types of courses. These types of learning opportunities are not without disadvantages, students can feel lost in a course without the structure they have come to expect, and the artificial time line of a lab period or academic term makes many ideas impossible. One of the biggest problems, from an instructional point of view, comes during the assessment of such courses. Without set answers that match a rubric both the students and instructors can get frustrated. Many talented scientists are studying the sources and implementation of content for these types of courses. Recently more literature has become available on assessment strategies and models. Testing those models to discover if they work and how to refine them is the next step. This proposal looks to answer the question are students learning what we think they are in these experiential courses with the goal of better designing content and assessments to answer these questions. Using an established curriculum, analysis of student work as well as their perceptions will be analyzed to better understand what they are gaining from this method of instruction. The data will be used to refine and develop pedagogical materials and new assessment strategies for CURE based courses.
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