People working together on a research project

Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences

Undergraduate students in a course-based research experience will determine a research trajectory, apply disciplinary approaches, share their findings and reflect on the process.

In a remote learning context, CURE students have taken initiative with their research and gained confidence in their abilities to work independently, contribute knowledge, and share their learning beyond the course.”

Dr. Mindi Summers, PhD

Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science


What is a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience?

Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) is the course-based inclusion of a fulsome research or discovery experience that can also be referred to as scholarship, artistic expression, design, or prototyping depending on the disciplines. A CURE can be encompassed within any field of study and in nearly any undergraduate course, even in large classes and remote learning contexts.

When instructors implement a high-quality research experience in a course they teach, it provides an opportunity that sparks students’ curiosity, drives student-led discovery, delivers students the chance to disseminate their findings and reflect on the process.

People working together

People working on a project together

Winter 2022 CURE courses

(Introduction to Innovation & Research) taught by Dr. Paula Berton, Robert Barnes, and Ali Telmadarreie

This unique, hands-on course introduces second-year engineering students from the Schulich School of Engineering to research and innovation. This course focuses on the innovation pathway, with research employed as a tool rather than an end, to developing the skills required to solve real-world scientific problems. Across the semester, students work with teammates to develop an innovative approach to one of two real-world problems: (1) the cleanup of industrial wastewater or (2) overcoming antibiotic resistance through the development of new kill methods. Following the phases of the design thinking scheme and closely mentored by experienced researchers who are active in innovation and start-ups, students self-direct their coming up with an innovative idea that they then test in the lab by designing their own experiments. This course also focuses on how novel scientific concepts may become business opportunities, with an introduction to patent writing, minimum viable product, and pitch delivery. Successful science entrepreneurs inspire the students as they deliver lectures on how they started a business from a great scientific idea. To guarantee a unique experience for the students and to successfully achieve the proposed learning outcomes, the course relies on instructors from different disciplines, with proven experience in innovation and research; guided activities and deliverables to promote skill development and to move forward in the process of discovery and innovation; and access to world-class research infrastructure.

Taught by Angela George

This is a course where students study all aspects of Spanish at the advanced level. A major component of the course is a capstone project involving research into a topic related to the Spanish-speaking world as well as the students’ area(s) of concentration. This project will see students writing an argumentative essay and then presenting the results in an innovative way. Community members will be invited to view the presentations. To build up to this project, students will participate in 3 debates where they will be assigned a role and given some background information on their role with the expectation that they identify additional research to support their position. The day of each debate, all students will contribute by presenting their arguments. Following each debate, students will critically reflect on the issue, presenting both sides in a written response. In this way, they will be more prepared to write and present a well-researched argumentative essay for their capstone project.

Taught by Angela George

Students will conduct a sociolinguistics research study, a main component of the course. Homework and in-class assignments will help prepare students by allowing them to practice interviewing participants and figuring out how to analyze linguistic data. For the research component, each student will locate scholarly sources to describe and support the topic of their research. Students will design a task to accompany a sociolinguistic interview. They will then analyze the interview and task for certain features and compare their results to previous literature on the topic. Students will present their findings in an innovative way and community members will be invited to attend these sessions.

Taught by Ariane Cantin

The laboratory portion of BIOL 313 is focused on the development of an ecological research project wherein student teams use existing databases, field or lab experiments to acquire project data on one of three topics. The topics include bear behaviour and habitat use using camera data from Katmai US National Park Service in Alaska; field experiments on bird foraging behaviour; and the impact of different environmental variables on plant competition in a laboratory experiment. Lab activities allow teams to acquire important research skills in library use, question formulation and hypotheses, study design, methodology and data management, excel skills, figure preparation, presentation of results, writing, citing, formatting, and reflection. Teams advance a single project on a shared research question within one of the topics, managing their data collaboratively and sharing their data analysis and figures. Yet, individual students are responsible for providing peer feedback on one another’s drafts and each submits their own final project write-up.

Taught by Adela Kincaid

 

Applied research uses new or existing knowledge to provide solutions to real-world challenges through practical application. This course is built around experiential student projects that work with, by and for Indigenous-focused organizations (NGOs) and/or Indigenous communities. The focus is on exploring Indigenous and applied research methods and protocols where students apply ethical approaches to working with Indigenous peoples, organisations and communities through their projects. The purpose of each applied project is to help find practical solutions and build services by using community-based approaches.

Experiential learning is connected to Indigenous ways of learning and doing. This course provides opportunities for students to engage in direct learning where they reflect on, apply, and learn by seeing and doing. Students have opportunities to connect and work with organizations and to direct their own learning. Experiential learning opportunities such as the one being offered through this course provide work integrated learning (WIL) and prepare students for professional engagement with organizations.

Taught by Eleonora Buonocore

This is a CURE course focused on Boccaccio’s Decameron, a masterpiece of Italian literature and a crucial text that lays at the foundation of European culture. Students will learn skills necessary to do research within a humanities literary context. In order to do so, students will analyze a selection of short stories, their tropes, and their language. They will select a topic for their research, present their preliminary findings in a Video Presentation, write a short proposal of their thesis statement, and develop a necessary bibliography before writing a research paper. Throughout the class, students will reflect on their own learning process in the class blog. We will begin by a close reading of Boccaccio’s poem and his collection of short stories. This will ensure students understand the mechanisms of frame narrative in medieval storytelling as the springboard to understanding the positive, healing value of telling stories at the time of the plague (1348). Students will discover the beginning of Italian Literature in prose, understand the complex interplay between the characters in the frame narrative of the book, and will become familiarized with selected tales from the Decameron. Secondarily, the course will explore the historical context of medieval Italian history, paying particular attention to the development of the cities, the rise of the merchant class, and the politics of gender. Finally, students will demonstrate how to write a research paper on the inner workings of the short-story genre, including interpretation, analysis, and short story composition. 

Past CURE courses

Explore past CURE courses from different faculties.

Dr. Mindi Summers, Faculty of Science 

As science-citizens students collect and curate their own insect collection in Calgary and surrounding areas. They submit this data to catalogue biodiversity for the City of Calgary and contribute to an online, crowd-sourced global repository and community called iNaturalist. Students engage in participatory learning to develop science communication and facilitation skills through species spotlight discussions, infographics and podcasts. Through critical reflection students, track weekly insights into their own learning and provide constructive feedback to peers.  In turn, students acquire skills and knowledge of course content and threshold concepts/theory such as plant-pollinator relationships, and identifying Odonata&Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, and Diptera. The project and activities move students through research processes including data collection and management, collaboration in science, and critical thinking/reflection.

Dr. Cari Din, Faculty of Kinesiology 

Students gain skills and confidence in researching, solving real-world problems using the best available evidence, and developing compelling coaching resources. All in all, in completing the course, students enable athlete learning and returning to the sport or physical activity as coaches. Through team and individual learning activities, students: explain evidence-informed sport coaching best practices; integrate ethical, values-driven safe sport principles with coaching practices; collaborate effectively with peers throughout learning activities and projects; make connections between course content and personal experiences through systematic critical reflection; apply course content to coaching situations or cases; clarify a research problem, purpose, and question; discover, organize, and annotate evidence relevant to the research question and project purpose; analyze, appraise, and synthesize peer-reviewed coaching research; translate research into practical professional learning materials; and create effective, compelling, relevant, timely professional learning materials.

Dr. Adela Kincaid, Faculty of Arts

(Applied Perspectives to Indigenous Research Projects)

The course incorporates an applied project-based and experiential approach to teaching and learning. By way of short lectures, case studies, videos, podcasts, class discussions, student presentations, guest lectures, students develop respectful practices and protocols when working with Indigenous communities/organizations. Students gain research skills and confidence through collaborative learning by chairing meeting sessions, leading group committees, and providing peer feedback to teach and support one another in class. More specifically, students identify and apply Indigenous-informed strategies and community-based research approaches to a specific project.  The project moves students from identifying an interest, formulating research questions, and selecting methodology so as to produce and articulate implications of research findings for the partner organization or community practitioners in an online presentation.

Dr. Ariane Cantin, Faculty of Science

The laboratory portion of BIOL313 is focussed on the development of an ecological research project wherein student teams use existing databases to acquire project data. ITPMetrics are used to assemble teams of 5-6 students with a view to maximize diversity and align topic interests. The three topics include tree identification and measurement or forest carbon and diversity and across North American forest plots; bear behaviour and habitat use using camera data from Katmai US National Park Service in Alaska; or North American bird diversity and historical change using observations available through the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology & Birds Canada, CourseSource, or Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Lab activities allow teams to acquire important research skills in library use, question formulation and hypotheses, study design, methodology and data management, excel skills, figure preparation, presentation of results, writing, citing, formatting, and reflection. Teams advance a single project on a shared research question within one of the topics, managing their data collaboratively and sharing their data analysis and figures. However, individual students are responsible for peer feedback on one another’s drafts and they submit their own final write-up.


Support for academic staff

The Office of Experiential Learning at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning can provide support on developing a CURE for an existing or a new course. Academic staff can also receive support from a research coach who can aid in resource development and facilitating CURE components during the course of the term.

Kara Loy

Educational Development Consultant
(Experiential Learning & Undergraduate Research)

kara.loy@ucalgary.ca

Partnership with the Office of Experiential Learning

  • Educational development support enables instructors in adapting student research focused learning outcomes and activities
  • Inclusion as part of a community of practice with other instructors implementing CURE
  • Inclusion in a comprehensive evaluating plan to explore CURE impact and best practices
Research Coach

Research Coach Support

  • A research coach is a graduate or upper-level undergraduate UCalgary student
  • Large first and second year CURE courses may qualify for a research coach
  • A research coach can dedicate up to 20 hours per week
  • The CDCI provides administrative and financial support for hiring a research coach
Cari Din

I appreciate CUREs because they enable student agency, curiosity, and authentic assessment. Students take responsibility for their learning. They discover, synthesize, and integrate the best research available into practical resources. They have an opportunity to be bold and creative.

Dr. Cari Din, PhD

Faculty of Kinesiology