A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine calls for more systematic collection of data on undergraduate research experiences (UREs) in STEM, stating that more widespread dissemination of such data could assist potential and current developers of such experiences.
“Administrators and faculty at all types of colleges and universities should work together within and, where feasible, across institutions to create a culture that supports the development of evidence-based, iterative, and continuous refinement of UREs, in an effort to improve student learning outcomes and overall academic success,” stated the Committee on Strengthening Research Experiences for Undergraduate STEM Students.
In its National Science Foundation-funded study, the committee also noted the growth of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), the vital role of research in retaining students from underrepresented groups in STEM fields, the importance of student mentoring and the need for proper training for mentors, and the creativity of higher education institutions in applying limited resources to provide additional research opportunities for students. It recommended studies of undergraduate research experiences conducted by teams of education researchers and undergraduate research program directors; additional funding for studies of outcomes for undergraduate research participants; further partnerships of faculty members, institutions, and professional societies; and examination of institutional policies that can support undergraduate research.
“CUR commends the effort of the National Academies committee to study the diverse undergraduate research experiences available in STEM fields,” said executive officer Elizabeth Ambos. “As committee chair James Gentile notes in the report preface, the profound impact of high-quality undergraduate research encompasses student learning, faculty-student and interdisciplinary collaboration, and nourishment of an inclusive scientific and academic community equipped to address real-world problems.”