Articulating the Importance of Broader Relevance in Cures: From Definition to Actualization

Nikki T Donegan, University of Texas at El Paso


Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) have emerged as a means to foster students’ scientific reasoning, promote positive attitudes and motivations toward research, and increase persistence in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In contrast to prescriptive laboratories, students enrolled in CUREs employ techniques and skills to collaboratively and iteratively address novel questions of broad relevance to audiences beyond the scope of the course itself. While many of the core components of CUREs are perceived to be relatively straightforward, definitionally-speaking, this latter dimension of broader relevance has, in contrast, remained largely ill-defined. In the series of studies presented herein, a unique opportunity to achieve clarification of this component will be undertaken using a two-pronged approach. First, a literature review of biological sciences CUREs will be conducted. Specifically, published CUREs will be assessed as a means to both determine the extent to which practitioners explicitly incorporate broader relevance into their CUREs and, if so, what type(s) of broader relevance are included. Relatedly, it has been observed that few studies have acknowledged the possibility of cohesiveness between museum education (as a form of broader relevance) and biological sciences CUREs. This will be the focus of the second study, which will examine stakeholder (e.g., University of Texas at El Paso [UTEP] students, faculty, and staff; external visitors) perceptions of a student-generated museum exhibit installed in the UTEP Centennial Museum as part of a one-semester, introductory biology Pollinator CURE. Collectively, these studies will provide new insights into how to best address broader relevance in CURE contexts, thereby optimizing the potential for CUREs to advance students’ academic and professional growth.

Subject Area

Environmental education|Biology|Education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Donegan, Nikki T, "Articulating the Importance of Broader Relevance in Cures: From Definition to Actualization" (2021). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28548501.