The latest available statistics (2007) from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) reported that an estimated 11.6 million students were enrolled at a community college (7.3 full-time). These numbers account for about half of the U.S. postsecondary student population. These large enrollment numbers highlight the increasing impact that community colleges are having on the education of postsecondary students in the United States.
The characterization of the reform of undergraduate science education has been extensive, and reports from a variety of organizations have converged on some common features. Central to the reform movement is the idea that learning science should be an active endeavor that focuses on science as a process. Conceptual understanding of scientific principles can be enhanced through inquiry-based instruction and problem-based learning (PBL) strategies. The reform should involve the integration of an undergraduate research experience as early as is practical in the education of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students. In addition, the reform must have a well-defined strategy of assessment that involves a process of evaluation tailored to the specific mission and student demographic of the institution.
Taken together, it is clear that the community college must take a leadership position in implementing a reform effort that involves the integration of inquiry-based instructional models and undergraduate research. The Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) is prepared to lead this reform nationally over the next four years.
CCURI in the news - click link -
“Undergraduate research is just another tool in your tool box to teach with,” he comtinued. “Even a student who is not science major will learn more. It’s a powerful way to teach. We have to do it that way, even though it’s difficult and challenging.”
video featuring James Hewlett at the CCURI Regional Workshop in Phoenix, Arizona
“The challenge is getting a community of educators to see that the issue is not research or teaching, but the concept that research is teaching,” James Hewlett
"If we're teaching people to be scientists, we need to let them be scientists." James Hewlett
"Hewlett and his colleagues hope to inspire their students not only to stay in school but also to view science as a career option." Science Vol 333 16 September 2011 www.sciencemag.org
“FLCC will be the national leader in undergraduate biology education reform at the community college level,” said FLCC President Barbara Risser. “National Science Foundation grants are highly competitive and almost always awarded to research universities, so this is an especially proud day for FLCC.”
The CCURI uses an inquiry-based teaching model where students are exposed to real world science through a case study in an introductory course followed by a hands-on research experience resulting from questions about or related to the case. CCURI is providing resources for institutional partners including introductory workshops/conferences that are building regional and national collaborations, start-up supplies and a wide variety of faculty development opportunities.
The council on Undergraduate Research has published a monograph on UR programs at community colleges. You can click below to read the full text.
Integration and Evaluation
Institutional partners implement the CCURI model using research as pedagogy and over course of four years embed the cases/research into course curricula. CCURI will monitor and evaluate the entire process including workshop effectiveness, institutional preparedness and student learning gains.
Please enjoy our website as it evolves and return often to view all the CCURI partner pages.