In the Trenches - April 2015

Volume 5, Number 2

In This Issue

Online Supplements This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

Letter from the Guest Editor: Undergrad Research in First Two Years Can Make Huge Impact

Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College

In March I had the joy of watching my students present their research on soil and water quality to farmers from a local organic farm who support returning veterans. Seeing that their research had meaning and value made the students excited about all the work they had done on their projects. It is experiences like these that led me to guest edit this issue of In the Trenches. Read more...

Honing a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible: Undergraduate Research in the First Two Years of College

Niccole Villa Cerveny, Mesa Community College

Undergraduate research (UGR) opportunities have been identified as a high-impact practice toward student engagement, retention, completion, and education (Kuh 2008). Yet my experiences facilitating Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) workshops to institutionalize UGR reveal that the methodology of inquiry-based learning in authentic research projects is largely underutilized with undergraduates, particularly those in their first or second year. The primary barriers for faculty to engage first- and second-year college students in undergraduate research projects center around time, resources, and institutional support (Hewlett 2009). What are freshman- or sophomore- appropriate undergraduate research projects anyway? How much do they cost in terms of time and resources? How can you gain adequate institutional support? Read more...

Students Learn Geoscience by Researching the Perceptions of Classmates

Karen M. Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island

The geoscience education research project at Community College of Rhode Island allows students to participate fully in original research, from asking a research question to collecting and interpreting data and communicating their results, without requiring specialized equipment. This article describes this novel approach to undergraduate research and presents student reflections of their experiences. Read more...

Building Success into a First-Semester Undergraduate Research Course

Deanna van Dijk, Calvin College

One could think of reasons why engaging first-semester undergraduate students in research is difficult. Students lack content knowledge and research skills, can be intimidated by the research process, and might not even recognize that doing research is a valuable activity. On the other hand, benefits of early student research experiences are well documented: 1) there are direct benefits to students (Lopatto 2004), 2) authentic inquiry is an effective pedagogy in science education (Singer et al. 2012), and 3) early research experiences can attract or retain students in STEM disciplines (Lopatto 2007; Taraban 2008). The challenge of creating an early undergraduate research course is to overcome the difficulties in order to realize the benefits. Read more...

Getting into Hot Water: High-Impact Projects Provide Early Undergraduate Students With High-Level STEM Skills

Suzanne M. (Suki) Smaglik, Central Wyoming College

In little more than a decade, the undergraduate research program at Central Wyoming College (CWC) has grown from one student, one instructor, to five instructors and five to ten students each year. Maintaining a culture of undergraduate research has become an objective in our institutional strategic plan. Because I had the opportunity to do undergraduate research in my early years, I knew the importance of this type of experience for my students. CWC is a low-income, at-risk, minority- serving institution, which means most of our students only see scientists on TV and have a hard time seeing themselves in that profession. I wanted to empower our students with the opportunity to work on a research project. With financial support from small ($5K-$25K) grants through the Wyoming Space Grant Consortium (WSGC), Wyoming Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR/NSF), Wyoming Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE /NIH) and the Community College Research Initiative (CCURI/NSF), we have been able to support our students as research interns, taking them to present their work at conferences, both local and national. Participation in research projects has huge impacts on 2YC students, who go on into the STEM pipeline with skills and knowledge that their four-year counterparts may lack. Read more...

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Web Features

NAGT, its members, and its sponsored projects have produced a number of resources related to the topics addressed in this issue.

On the Cutting Edge: Undergraduate Research as Teaching Practice »

On the Cutting Edge has sponsored two workshops dealing with Undergraduate Research, one focused on Upper Division Courses, Independent Study, and REU's and the other on Research in the First Two Years.

Pedagogy in Action: Undergraduate Research »

This pedagogic module establishes the What, Why, and How of conducting research with undergraduates in a variety of contexts.

Undergraduate Research with 2YC Students »

As a part of the workshop on Supporting Student Success, the SAGE 2YC program developed a set of web pages focused on the particular opportunities and concerns of implementing student research with students at or from two-year colleges.

ACM FaCE: Undergraduate Research »

Authentic research opportunities, whether in our outside of class, can be a very important part of a liberal arts education. Several FaCE projects focused on undergraduate research from a number of different angles including involving student in designing and implementing research projects, exploring best practices for mentoring student researchers, and protecting human subjects in student research projects.

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