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Wednesday, June 22 • 11:15 - 12:15
CON01.12b - The development, delivery, and evaluation of an interdisciplinary research course for first-year international science students

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Three important goals of an undergraduate science education are for students to (a) learn to think like scientists, (b) develop an understanding of how scientific knowledge is constructed, and (c) enhance their professional skills in communicating and critiquing scientific ideas (Fox et al., 2014; Russell, Hancock & McCullough, 2007). Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to be effective in achieving these goals (Thiry, Laursen & Hunter, 2011; Watkins & Mazur, 2013). In a new, innovative, first-year program for international students at the University of British Columbia, a large, research-oriented, public university, an interdisciplinary team of five instructors developed a course sequence specifically designed to provide an authentic research experience for first-year Science students. Each student in the course sequence is mentored over three terms by one of the instructors. In the first term, the students worked on discipline-specific modules that introduced them to scientific research. In the second term, the students chose a topic that is relevant to an academic community, conducted a literature review, and wrote a formal research proposal. In the third term, the students completed the research outlined in their proposal and presented their work at a student-led conference. In the first iteration of this course sequence, student projects ranged from measuring the effects of climate change on radiocarbon dating techniques to multivariable optimizations of tin can construction. Developing this course sequence in the context of our new program for international students posed specific challenges and opportunities.

In this session, we will detail course activities and present our findings from a course evaluation conducted through instructor reflections, student survey responses, and student-generated work. Session participants will gain insights from our mistakes and successes and will learn how this type of research experience can be adapted to broader contexts.

avatar for Meghan Allen

Meghan Allen

Instructor - Computer Science and Vantage College, UBC
Meghan Allen is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at UBC. She studied human computer interaction in graduate school before starting her teaching career. She is currently teaching in the Vantage international program and her current research interests are in the... Read More →

Fok-Shuen Leung

Fok-Shuen Leung is a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at UBC. He studied Mathematics and Music at Queen's University before doing his doctoral work at Oxford with Roger Heath-Brown. His research interests are primarily in number theory. He is currently Chair of Science... Read More →

Additional Authors

Anka Lekhi

Anka Lekhi is a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at UBC. She studied Chemical Oceanography. She has facilitated Instructional Skills Workshops (ISWs) for the last 10 years and in 2013, enrolled in a PhD program in Science Education to further her current research interests... Read More →

Wednesday June 22, 2016 11:15 - 12:15 EDT
UCC 146