Undergraduate research is a high-impact practice leading to student success, engagement, interest in higher education, and skills development. There are two well-known models for incorporating research experiences in a program: Undergraduate Research Experiences (UREs) and Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). UREs represent the apprentice model. They feature individual students in faculty research laboratories and provide the opportunity for one-on-one mentoring. On the other hand, CUREs are embedded into the curriculum and are open to most students. CUREs put high demands on one or a few mentors to guide many students. UREs and CUREs vary in selectivity, duration, setting, mentoring, and cost. We believe that in engineering undergraduate programs, CUREs and UREs should complement each other. CUREs should be included across the curriculum and at different levels. Our view is to incorporate basic research skills in early semesters and keep cultivating and expanding them as students move up. We believe that with this approach upper-level students will be better prepared to be part of UREs and have a more productive research experience.
In this paper, we present the results of an implementation of CUREs. The CUREs project at City Tech aims to provide support for full-time research-active faculty and adjunct faculty with industrial experience. Thus, faculty works together to develop, implement and evaluate CUREs emphasizing workforce skills, into at least one course in each of the college’s associate degree programs accredited by ABET. The project aims to build on what is already known about effectively implementing CURE in the development of new curricular materials. We integrated CUREs within an introductory computer engineering course with these goals: • Create experiences intended to enculturate students into developing basic practices for scientific investigation within the computer technology field. • Make students participate in basic scientific practices such as modeling of scientific observations, or analysis of data and documenting results; • Provide a framework for students to develop logical reasoning and for following a systematic approach for troubleshooting computer hardware systems; and • Develop practical workforce skills for the computer technology field.
To evaluate the effectiveness of this CUREs implementation, we used as a metric the results of the well-known certification exam in the field. The passing rate of our students was 100%. The average score of our students was higher than the mean score of students from other colleges in NY and the national average. We have also used some students lab work to assess selected ABET and General Education outcomes. We believe that this is a practical approach that can be easily replicated or improved by other colleges with similar courses or interests. The full paper will include more details and deeper discussion of the pedagogical model followed.