The CCURI model of incorporating undergraduate research (UR) into community college curricula involves engaging students from the moment they enter the classroom. The model employs a case study method of instruction in freshman coursework. The CCURI writing team develops cases that instructors can use to teach basic scientific concepts within the context of an ongoing research project. Students are then given a opportunity to explore those projects as either a CURE (Course Undergraduate Research Experience), a SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) or PURE (Program Undergraduate Research Experience). The growing CCURI network has become a rich source of collaboration on both the curricular and research side of the CCURI model. This network represents the third level of the CCURI model. In this level, students are connected to research opportunities and prospects to transfer their experience to a four-year institution as they continue to pursue their STEM career.
CCURI is supported through the National Science Foundation, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant #1524353
To learn more about the CCURI model, watch the webinar Increasing Student Achievement and Completion Rates
The CCURI writing team is working on developing a series of case studies that instructors can use in freshman science classrooms. The cases are designed to promote a deeper conceptual understanding while at the same time exposing students to the ongoing CCURI research projects. The case study method of instruction introduces students to the process of science and helps prepare them for their undergraduate research experience. Traditional cookbook laboratory activities have been replaced by activities that expose students to contemporary research methods. In some cases, the freshman are engaged directly in data collection and analysis. The first year experience in the CCURI model is designed to expose students to the research and engage them in a path toward a STEM career.
After engaging students in the research questions as part of the freshman courses, the CCURI model involves the creation of opportunities for students to explore those questions in greater depth. In order to be sustainable, the opportunities are embedded as part of the regular course offerings at the college. Students can explore research opportunities as part of a course (CURE), a degree program (PURE), or as part of a credit-bearing summer experience (SURE). CCURI’s 26 partners are in the process of implementing their undergraduate research programs using one of these three model solutions. For example, students at Jamestown Community College have an opportunity to explore environmental and biomedical research methods and skill development during May and June as part of a SURE, while students at Finger Lakes Community College develop an independent study as part of a CURE - BIO 291: Research Methods in Biology.
The third component of the CCURI model involves connecting community college faculty and students to the research community. For faculty, this means connecting them to other community college faculty and professionals at research institutions. CCURI’s collaboration with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has been a critical component of this part of the CCURI model. Networking gives community college faculty opportunities to engage in novel research questions. For students, this means making connections to the transfer pipeline so that they can continue their pursuit of a STEM degree. In some cases, the students are able to transfer their research experience with them. Pictured here are FLCC students studying an endemic lizard population in collaboration with a graduate student from Harvard University.