Numerous studies have highlighted the impact that undergraduate research experiences can have on science identity, confidence and persistence in STEM. However, such instruction is often lacking in foundational gateway courses. This project aims to expose students to research in introductory biology and chemistry courses, as well as general biology for non-majors, by incorporating a pedagogical strategy called research deconstruction. Developed at UCLA, this approach introduces students to the process of scientific inquiry by “unpacking” a research seminar over several classes, and guiding the students through the scientific questions, fundamental concepts, experimental strategies and data presented from the research. Following a series of “deconstruction” classes, the speaker returns for a Question and Answer session, by which point the students have acquired sufficient mastery of the material to ask insightful questions about the work. Assessment from over ten years of implementation as a stand-alone course at UCLA suggests that research deconstruction is effective in increasing students’ science confidence and self-efficacy, and importantly, may also improve STEM persistence.
To incorporate research deconstruction into introductory courses at the partner institutions, the project team will develop modules that include a pre-recorded research seminar and short pre-class videos that explain concepts or experimental techniques important to the research from the seminar. The course instructor will reinforce these concepts over several classes by discussing them in the context of the experiments, data and conclusions of the work. Learning will be enhanced by hands-on and virtual laboratory exercises, interactive quizzes and online discussion forums. Supplementary videos will introduce students to a variety of careers in STEM. At the end of the deconstruction, the students will be able to engage the speaker in a Question and Answer session through a remote platform such as Zoom. Eighteen faculty will participate in this project, which will impact approximately 2,200 students during the grant period.
Project assessment will evaluate student gains in critical thinking, science efficacy and science identity, as well as changes in growth vs fixed mindset for students and faculty. Course outcomes will be analyzed for reductions in achievement gaps, and students will be followed longitudinally to determine if the intervention yields greater persistence in STEM. Findings and resources from this project will be made available to instructors throughout California.