A True Undergraduate Life-Science Research Community: Classroom to Career

Project Details


Biological Sciences (61)

Traditional programs designed to prepare undergraduates for discovery-based life science careers, such as biology education and academic/professional research, often do not provide complete exposure to the process of discovery. Faculty-directed student projects are generally limited to vertical and unidirectional information exchange rather than the horizontal and multidirectional exchange of a true academic community. The goal of this project is to address the problem through the adaptation and implementation of a curriculum that fosters a student-centered community of scholarship among undergraduate biology majors. Students are enrolling in a two-semester research course in one of three general areas: organism biology, molecular biology and ecology. The first semester in each sequence is providing both lecture and laboratory experience with the central goal that teams of students generate quality grant proposals for evaluation by their peers. Successful proposals are qualifying students to enroll in the respective subsequent course, in which the central goal is for students to conduct the proposed research and generate quality scientific manuscripts and paper presentations for evaluation by their peers. These collaborative and peer-based activities, coupled with an integrative department-wide undergraduate research symposium are pivotal in producing a true undergraduate academic community. Preliminary evidence suggests that such an approach can provide invaluable experience and have a dramatic impact on comprehension, retention, performance and interest in biology. This program would represent a major curricular addition to the biology department and enhanced student interest and success in graduate study, science education and biological research is anticipated. The effort represents an adaptation of a similar project that was piloted successfully at Skidmore College.

Effective start/end date1/08/0031/07/03


  • National Science Foundation: $67,925.00


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