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Wednesday, December 9 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
Opening Doors for More Authentic Undergraduate Research Experiences

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Laboratory research is at the heart of the science education, yet many undergraduates will have little direct exposure to our research labs during their studies. True, most will be enrolled in a few large course-based labs, but space, resources and, importantly, time, dramatically limit student access to an authentic, independent research experience. As enrollments increase and research funding tightens, the proportion of our students participating in substantial laboratory experiences is decreasing, with the few available spaces restricted to the fourth year. This means that a vital complement of skills and attitudes essential to modern science – critical yet creative thinking, experimental design, data interpretation, even career planning – are only experienced, if at all, toward the end of a student's undergraduate studies. Indeed, the majority of our students will simply not have this opportunity.

Given this observation, we are developing tools and opportunities for researchers so that they can engage multiple undergraduate students early and often in original, publishable research.  The goal is to bring the successful elements of peer-based learning and teaching into thesis experiences. One core tool is an iBook lab manual that walks young researchers through some of the basics of lab research on their own and with their peers, with modest personal supervision by faculty, graduate students, and postdocs. To be clear: this manual would not replace the value of a mentor in the lab, but it will dramatically ease the workload on lab mentors, thus allowing faculty to bring more undergraduates into an authentic lab experience.


Kimberley Dej

McMaster University

Wednesday December 9, 2015 11:30am - 12:00pm EST
Meeting Room A

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