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

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)

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