Engaging Undergraduate Students In Authentic Science Research: A Large-Scale Approach

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Susan Rowland, Gwendolyn Lawrie and Rhianna Pedwell
Published by 
Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia
Publication year 

This HERDSA Guide is for adventurers – those who are curious, brave and willing to lead their colleagues and their students into new and exciting territory. We have built the Guide to help academics who want to take their traditional undergraduate science laboratory program and turn it into a research experience.

The HERDSA Guide has grown out of a National Leadership Project funded in 2011 by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The project, led by members of the authorship team, aimed to help new academics develop and deliver undergraduate research projects for large numbers of science students. We call this educational model ALURE, for Authentic Large-scale Undergraduate Research Experience.

During our project, the grant team acted as mentors to our participating partner academics. In all, 39 Australian academics and around 2000 students a year were involved in the project from 2011 to 2015. The eleven ALUREs developed for, and during, the project continue to run at the time of writing and in some cases, additional ALUREs have been established under the guidance of the implementers we mentored.

Scientists naturally take risks and explore new ideas when they conduct research. Switching from safe, tried-and-true laboratory teaching practice to an ALURE requires similar behaviour. An ALURE places new demands on the students, the teachers and the laboratory staff. These demands can be stressful, and they can de-rail an innovative teaching program before it reaches the classroom or before it becomes embedded as common practice. However, with appropriate support and guidance the challenges of ALURE can be tackled productively and an exciting and deeply satisfying educational experience can result.

As we helped new implementers with their ALUREs, we found that our capacity to provide ‘just-in-time’ advice was crucial. In particular, our ability to share our own mistakes prevented them from making so many of their own. This guide is an attempt to make this advice available, on demand, to a much wider audience so that more academics can be supported in the design and delivery of ALUREs.

We hope you enjoy this HERDSA Guide, and that it helps you to achieve the educational outcomes you desire for your students.

Price $35.00