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CBE Life Sci Educ. 2016 Summer;15(2). pii: ar20. doi: 10.1187/cbe.16-03-0117.

Early Engagement in Course-Based Research Increases Graduation Rates and Completion of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Degrees.

Author information

1
Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.
2
Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development, College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506.
3
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6789.
4
Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science, College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712 edolan@austin.utexas.edu.

Abstract

National efforts to transform undergraduate biology education call for research experiences to be an integral component of learning for all students. Course-based undergraduate research experiences, or CUREs, have been championed for engaging students in research at a scale that is not possible through apprenticeships in faculty research laboratories. Yet there are few if any studies that examine the long-term effects of participating in CUREs on desired student outcomes, such as graduating from college and completing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) major. One CURE program, the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI), has engaged thousands of first-year undergraduates over the past decade. Using propensity score-matching to control for student-level differences, we tested the effect of participating in FRI on students' probability of graduating with a STEM degree, probability of graduating within 6 yr, and grade point average (GPA) at graduation. Students who completed all three semesters of FRI were significantly more likely than their non-FRI peers to earn a STEM degree and graduate within 6 yr. FRI had no significant effect on students' GPAs at graduation. The effects were similar for diverse students. These results provide the most robust and best-controlled evidence to date to support calls for early involvement of undergraduates in research.

PMID:
27252296
PMCID:
PMC4909342
DOI:
10.1187/cbe.16-03-0117
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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