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CURE Findings for Hope College Courses (2004-2008)

Introduction

Participating course were divided into high research-like courses and low research- like courses based on the instructor's report of the amount of emphasis that is placed on five different course elements. These items included projects:

  • In which no one knows the outcome
  • with student input into research process
  • entirely of student design
  • In which students are responsible for part of project
  • In which students critiqued each other's work

Each of these items was scored by the instructor using a three point scale (1- little emphasis in this course, 2= moderate emphasis on this course, 3= high emphasis in this course). Thus, the scores ranged from 15 to 5. We used a median split of 8 to form the two categories.

Key findings:

Course Elements

The CURE survey asked students about the course emphasis on 25 course elements. The course elements listed below yielded higher learning gains for courses with high levels of research-like experiences as compared to courses low in research-like experiences at the end of the course (we used pre-course experience with those course elements as a covariate)

  • lab or project in which only the instructor knows the outcome
  • work as a whole class
  • work individually
  • read primary literature
  • write a research proposal
  • analyze data
  • present results in written reports
  • present results orally
  • critique other students' work
  • listen to lectures
  • work on set of problems
  • tests in class

Benefits

Below is a list of course Benefits for which students enrolled in courses with high levels of research like experiences reported higher learning gains as compared to those enrolled in low-research like courses at the end of the course.

  • skill on how to give oral presentations
  • understanding that scientific assertions require supporting evidence
  • understanding science
  • learning lab techniques

Attitudes

Below is a list of attitudes toward science for which a more favorable attitude developed in students enrolled in high research-like courses as compared to low research-like courses. This change was measured through a pre and post test measure.

  • Explaining science ideas to others has helped me understand the ideas better
  • Scientists play with statistics to support their own ideas
  • "Science is essentially an accumulation of facts, rules, and formulas" No change for students in low research-like courses for this item, but positive change for students in high research-like courses (i.e., they were more likely to disagree with the statement)
  • "Explaining science ideas to others has helped me understand the ideas better." There was higher disagreement with this statement from pre to post course for students in high research-like courses. Students in low research-like courses were more likely to agree with the statement at the end of the course.
  • Students in low research courses were more likely to think at the end of the course that scientist play with statistics to support their own ideas.
  • Students in high research-like courses did not change their view from pre-course to post course.
  • Students in high research-like courses were more likely to disagree with the statement, "lab experiments are used to confirm information studied in science class" than those in low research-like courses.
  • Students in high research-like courses were more likely at the end of the course to disagree with the idea that there is too much emphasis in science classes in students figuring things out by themselves.
  • Students in high research-like courses were more likely to disagree at the end of the course with the idea that "the main job of the instructor is to structure the work so that we can learn it ourselves".
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