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Effects of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) on wildlife students

Research paper by Elizabeth A. Flaherty, Sarah M. Walker, Jennifer H. Forrester, Merav Ben‐David

Indexed on: 01 Nov '17Published on: 20 Sep '17Published in: Wildlife Society Bulletin



Abstract

A new movement to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) is emerging, although the benefits of such programs have not yet been fully evaluated. We examined effects of a field-based CURE project on science attitudes, career choice, and perceived knowledge of undergraduate wildlife students (n = 32) at the University of Wyoming in 2012. In this project, junior and senior students gained practical experience, used their own data to learn various modeling approaches, and disseminated results orally and in written form. We used a mixed-method study with pre- and postactivity surveys and focus group interviews to evaluate the change in student perceptions. Our results illustrate that participation in the CURE project resulted in benefits similar to those reported from traditional undergraduate research experience programs. Participants reported increased understanding of the scientific method, clarification of their career choices, and greater confidence in their perceived knowledge of science. These changes were more pronounced among male participants. Concurrently students gained valuable skills that are required by practicing wildlife biologists. Based on these results it appears that adoption of CURE projects in similar natural resources programs could provide a large number of undergraduate students with equivalent opportunities to those currently experienced by a select few through traditional undergraduate research experience programs. © 2017 The Wildlife Society.