Initially, C-BUR projects will focus on integrating authentic research activities into existing courses. Eventually, C-BUR projects will also include creating new courses for teaching science methodology and to allow students to delve more deeply into particular research projects.
The C-BUR faculty believe that by participating in authentic research activities, students...
- improve their critical thinking skills,
- develop skills useful for solving real world problems (in contrast to already solved end-of-chapter problems),
- and obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of science and scientific thinking.
In addition, presenting students with authentic research opportunities as an integral part of class, proves to be a great motivator for class participation, and leads to greater student satisfaction with the course. Students participating in undergraduate research tend to become inspired and are more likely to take responsibility for their own learning.
How Science is Taught vs How Science is Practiced
If you ask a working scientist why he or she became a scientist, nearly all talk about how the thrill of discovering something new initially inspired them. In contrast, traditional science courses generally only focus on already well-understood models and theories. In many ways, the pedagogical approach in traditional science classes is like teaching about baseball by carefully teaching all the rules, but never letting students play the game. The aim of C-BUR is to let students "play the game".
Same Content, New Approach
C-BUR projects offer a new approach for teaching already existing content. TMCC science courses all have well established and sensible content. This fact is not in dispute.
Some TMCC students also already participate in undergraduate research (see for example student projects in molecular biology or animal behavior occurring in Biology or the NevadaSat program run through Physics). Invariably, these students all extol the value of their experience, and exclaim that doing real research was both fun and rewarding. These praises are also not in dispute.
So what is new about C-BUR? Unfortunately, undergraduate research at TMCC benefits only the few lucky students who have the time and interest to pursue special projects not directly related to any of their coursework. C-BUR is an effort to integrate authentic research activities directly into existing science courses. By doing so, any student taking a TMCC science class will then be able to participate in undergraduate research and have an opportunity to reap the same benefits. C-BUR is all about presenting the fun part of science to all students.
So this is C-BUR, and this is the beginning. Stay tuned for more!
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