The Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI - www.ccuri.org) is a national consortium of community colleges, four-year schools, government agencies, and private organizations dedicated to the development, implementation, and assessment of a sustainable model for integrating an undergraduate research (UR) experience into community college biology curriculum. In partnership with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), CCURI has developed a fully-integrated model for integrating undergraduate research at a community college. This project aims to: 1) Expand a modified version of the CCURI model to 16 additional community colleges; 2) Implement a comprehensive evaluation of the CCURI model on student learning, competency, and retention in STEM; 3) Measure the impact of the CCURI model on developing institutional capacity at the 16 additional community colleges that are committed to developing an undergraduate research program; and 4) Disseminate the modified CCURI model of integration and the customized versions of the model as they exist at the institutional partners within CCURI.
This proposal is responsive to the recommendations for biology education reform called for in both Vision and Change: A Call To Action (NSF/AAAS) and the BIO 2010 report (NRC). CCURI is working toward a fully validated strategy that community colleges can look to in understanding how to initiate reform. The CCURI model is novel in that it was developed from a Root Cause Analysis of the unique barriers that community colleges face in sustaining UR programs. The project includes economic impact metrics as a tool for evaluating a Community College Faculty Model and leverages a partnership with Tennessee Tech & their CAT instrument to capture gains in critical thinking skills - an outcome with implications beyond biology.
This project is creating and sustaining a national network of Community Colleges committed to bringing the UR experience into biology curriculum. The model is helping community colleges overcome the unique barriers that have prevented them from employing the power of the UR pedagogy in the education of approximately 45% of all U.S. undergraduates including underrepresented groups and students who are the first generation of their family to attend college. The results from the extensive evaluation plan is being widely disseminated and used to refine the model for integrating the UR experience at a community college.