Photos from the Enhancing Student Learning Workshop - June 10 2024
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Understanding CURES: Ursinus Professor Hosts NSF Funded Faculty Development Workshop

Ursinus College Professor of Biology Rebecca Roberts and her colleagues hosted a National Science Foundation (NSF)–funded faculty development workshop on campus to help faculty from underserved institutions develop skills in assessing learning outcomes from CURES.

HomepageNewsUnderstanding CURES: Ursinus Professor Hosts NSF Funded Faculty Development Workshop

Course-based undergraduate research experiences, also known as CUREs, give students the opportunity to ask real research questions in a while enrolled in a course. In these situations neither the students nor the instructor knows what the outcome will be. The main question then becomes, “How do you assess what the students are learning and how they are developing?” That is where Ursinus College Professor of Biology Rebecca Roberts comes into the picture.

On Monday, June 10, Roberts, along with Erika Offerdahl, director and professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, hosted a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded faculty development workshop on campus. Educators from underserved institutions across the United States, descended on Collegeville to develop skills in assessing learning outcomes from CURES.

“We’re teaching these faculty how to assess student learning in the type of environment where you don’t necessarily know what is going to happen,” Roberts said. “It’s sometimes an uncomfortable place to be as a faculty member because they have to figure out if their students are learning and growing even if they themselves don’t know what the outcome of an experiment is going to be.”

Roberts and collaborators obtained a 5-year grant to determine how faculty from institutions are engaging in CUREs on their campuses. Ever since receiving the grant, Roberts and Offerdahl worked with Arthur Sikora, associate professor of biochemistry at Nova Southeastern University, to put together the workshop curriculum. It is the first in-person workshop put on by the duo after running a three-hour virtual one back in October.

Roberts and Offerdahl worked together virtually over Zoom for three years but Monday’s workshop gave them the first opportunity to meet and work together in person.

“Besides the fact that we’re getting to know all these other participants and faculty, I like being able to see Erica and realize that I’ve got a colleague that is just as silly and gets excited about this stuff like me,” Roberts said. “I’m learning a lot from her.”

The faculty members who attended the workshop truly came from all different corners of the United States.

“We have people from Hawaii, Alabama, Texas, Washington, Arizona, basically everywhere,” Roberts said. “Some are from big state schools like University of Massachusetts Amherst all the way to small regional community colleges.”

Roberts will be a part of another workshop set to occur at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in March of 2025.

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