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Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences for Laboratory Learning in the Life Sciences

Journal of College Science Teaching—January/February 2024

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Laboratory learning in the life sciences is historically centered around following recipe-like instructions to complete activities with defined outcomes. The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Vision and Change report has called for a change in science teaching. The report emphasizes the importance of providing research experiences for students and the need to foster discovery, collaboration, and communication of science by students. In recent years, the course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) has been introduced into science pedagogy. CUREs provide authentic, inquiry-based research experiences to undergraduate students from all backgrounds. There is evidence that CUREs produce students who have more concrete science identities, improved interdisciplinary collaboration and communication skills, and better understanding of the process of doing science compared to traditional courses. Students who participate in CUREs may be more likely to continue in the sciences compared to students without an authentic research experience. CUREs are often offered as single courses. Multi-semester CUREs increase potential for undergraduate publication and presentation of their science and benefits faculty supporters and their institutions. CUREs have revolutionized laboratory learning in the life sciences. We offer a review of current literature on the benefits and limitations of CUREs.

Labs Life Science Research Teaching Strategies

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