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Academic Affairs Offers New Round of Faculty Funding for Course-based Undergraduate Research

By Annette Finley-Croswhite

During the pandemic, the Center for Faculty Development was unable to promote faculty funding for course-based undergraduate research. We are delighted to announce the return of this program.

The Office of Academic Affairs is offering funding to develop course-based undergraduate research (CURE) opportunities in ODU colleges.

The CURE program aims to generate active learning in the classroom by embedding the research process into course curricula. Studies indicate that students who engage in undergraduate research develop higher-level critical thinking skills and discover new knowledge.

Course-based undergraduate research has been traditionally associated with lab sciences and controlled experiments. Expanding on this model, many of our scientists at Old Dominion University have designed their courses to create semi-controlled experiments or exercises where discovery is novel and answers are not known in advance.

Course-based undergraduate research should not be confined to science classrooms, however. All faculty members are able to consider the research methodologies in their disciplines and inject the discovery process more strongly into course curricula.

As a historian, I use the undergraduate research model in my history of medicine class. Students begin working on semester-long disease reports in the very first class. Along the way they gain experience with primary and secondary sources as they explore historical chronologies, cultural constructs, contextualization, types of analyses and how to document their findings. Peer review helps students refine their arguments. Once students finish their papers and receive a grade, they must respond to my line-edits and critical commentary by doing more research and rewriting their papers as part of the final exam. This method involves much more than "revision," for extra research and re-thinking are required and the final papers are significantly longer and more complex than the papers they submitted for an earlier grade. This final phase mirrors the external peer review process in my discipline. The best papers I submit to the Undergraduate Research Symposium. While I have not experimented with posters, I do know of programs in my discipline of history based at other universities that send students to research forums to showcase their presentations in poster format or even with web-based designs featuring videos and podcasts. The possibilities for undergraduate research seem almost limitless, especially when linked to student creativity.

The 2022 CURE request for proposals will go out to all faculty by December 6, 2021; you can also find it online along with the administrative form. Proposals are due by March 18, 2022, to the Center for Faculty Development at cfd@odu.edu.

The Provost's Office will make funds available up to $2,000 per awardee; applicants are encouraged to look for matching funds.

Receiving grants for 2019 were Hans-Peter Plag, John Cooper, Rohan Maddamsetti and Robert Strozak. You can read a September 2019 article describing their CURE classes and watch a video about student learning in Dr. Plag's course.

For both faculty and students, the lessons learned using undergraduate research offer unique opportunities for transformative education. If you are ODU full-time teaching and research faculty, tenured, tenure-track or non-tenure track, please consider applying for the 2022 CURE grant.

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