Biology Faculty Articles


Quantification of Learning Gains in a Science CURE: Leveraging Learning Objectives to Substantiate and Validate the Benefits of Experiential Education

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FASEB Journal








Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) aim to provide college students with hands-on experiences to develop research skills and complex thinking. Development of these abilities is invaluable as students undertake further education and begin critical professions. Regardless of eventual career aspirations, CUREs make it possible for every student to experience the enchantment of science in its authentic form. Performing research serves to galvanize inquiring minds that serve as role models for future generations of scientists. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines as a whole suffer from high rates of student attrition. Notably, students from underrepresented groups enter STEM disciplines at similar rates and with similar interest levels as White students, but do not persist at the same rates. CUREs have proven to be an indispensable model to expose every student, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or family obligations, to the process of science first hand. While many CURE curricula are freely available online, faculty are hesitant to adopt this new style of teaching. Using established anticipated learning outcomes (ALO) designed specifically for the Biochemistry Authentic Student Inquiry Laboratory (BASIL) CURE, this study aims to gauge student learning objective mastery quantitatively. Likert scale-based analysis is employed to evaluate the level of content mastery student responses demonstrate. Assignment questions were designed to correspond to the most critical learning objectives, as identified by BASIL faculty. Researchers spent significant effort designing and refining laboratory assignment questions that correspond to and can reliability and consistently to gage mastery of the ALOs.

Data of student mastery spanning 4 semesters will be discussed. Students showed significant learning gains in all four semesters/modalities. Greater mastery of bioinformatic ALOs during remote learning shows quality education can be enhanced and improved by technology. The student’s mastery of wet-lab ALOs coincided with our findings that lab courses need enhanced strategies to teach critical STEM lab-research skills in an online setting. Novel assessment and instruction strategies targeted to learning mastery gaps identified as part of this work will pave the way for wider CURE adoption. Ultimately, serving as a platform to expose every undergraduate student to vital STEM research experiences.


This is the full abstract presented at the Experimental Biology meeting and is only available in HTML format. There are no additional versions or additional content available for this abstract.


0000-0002-9739-4039, 0000-0001-6295-9928





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