Transforming STEM Education through Scaffolded Curricula

Thursday 3:30pm - 4:00pm Woodlawn I
Oral Presentation

Mitch Malachowski, University of San Diego
Jeffrey Osborn, The College of New Jersey
The involvement of undergraduate students in collaborative research with faculty is a proven and powerful pedagogy in view of the many educational benefits gained by students related to their cognitive, intellectual, professional, and personal growth. Yet, for a variety of reasons, undergraduate research (UGR) opportunities are still often optional and highly selective, missing the very students who could benefit the most. In this presentation, we will describe the Council on Undergraduate Research's five-year, NSF-funded Transformations Project, which engages 24 academic departments at 12 diverse institutions. To provide all students with more equitable access to the benefits of UGR, our project is conducting fundamental research on student, faculty, departmental, and disciplinary influences on the process of integrating and scaffolding research into undergraduate curricula emphasizing discovery, inquiry, and analysis. UGR expansion is critically dependent in adapting not only curricula, but on faculty and student engagement and departmental and institutional cultures. To achieve a cohesive curriculum that initiates students into a culture of inquiry and research in the discipline, departments are using a backward design approach to develop scaffolded, research-rich courses that build in deliberate ways to guide students to greater independence and ownership of their learning. This project is studying the student, faculty and disciplinary influences on the process of integrating and scaffolding UGR throughout the four-year undergraduate curriculum. We had previously developed a Theory of Change model using the lens of undergraduate research that articulates the conditions needed for change to occur within institutions. This model, and the assessment measures developed for the CUR Transformations project, are being refined to produce a new tool to guide departments beyond those involved with this project. We will share strategies being used to coach institutions to successfully scaffold UGR in ways that impact student learning, drive curricular transformation, and sustain cultural change.