only research experience. Approximately 38% of the class had
prior summer research experience. Comparisons between these
two groups yielded a few significant differences, such as when
analyzing the survey item “This was the most significant research
experience. . . .” Students without a summer research experience
were more likely (P < 0.007) to agree or strongly agree (Likert
score averaged 4.1 on a 5.0 scale) than students who had a summer research experience (Likert score averaged 2.6). One surprise
was that a significantly higher percentage of students from the
non-summer research group agreed or strongly agreed with the
statements “I felt more confident in my ability to use graphing
tools to analyze patterns after this experience” (P < 0.0006) and
“This experience increased my ability to communicate and present
scientific information graphically and visually” (P < 0.0048).
Overall, the survey indicated that the students had a very positive
experience with the projects and felt that the projects increased
their confidence in performing many of the skills associated with
conducting research and writing a scientific-style research paper.
This example of course-based research illustrates how student projects can build upon each other and how the questions arising from
one research project can provide the basis for future student projects. Providing students access to a database of previous student
projects gives them a powerful tool that helps them design their
own projects and creates a more authentic research experience.
Through these carnivorous plant projects, student groups discovered that visual cues (particularly within the UV spectrum) can have
a significant effect in attracting prey to a particular trap. Results of
the student survey confirmed that students felt ownership of their
projects and that they felt more confident in skills related to planning and carrying out investigations; analyzing and interpreting
data; and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
The survey also identified some areas of improvement in the implementation of the projects, such as providing more training with statistical tools, and indicated some differences between students with
prior research experience and those without. The use of course-based research, coupled with a focus on writing the discussion,
can enhance the ability of students to apply the process of science,
use quantitative reasoning, and communicate science. These are
important goals that have been expressed both in the Next Generation Science Standards and within the Vision and Change report.
This research was supported in part by an Institutional Development
Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Scien-
ces of the National Institutes of Health (P20GM103443) as well as
funding from the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR program
(IIA-1355423) and the State of South Dakota. The content is solely
the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent
the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the National
Science Foundation. We are also thankful for all the support from
Augustana faculty who helped in the mentoring of students for their
independent projects and all the students who worked so hard on
these projects. Thanks also to many people who gave feedback on
various stages of the manuscript, including Emma Miller, Grady
Carlisle, Dr. Anna George, and Dr. Anne-Marie Hoskinson.
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