Sustainable CURE implementation Across Diverse Institution Types

Bonnie Hall
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Grand View University

Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) are recognized for their potential to increase access to research in undergraduate STEM. While CUREs are becoming increasingly widespread, there have been few systematic studies of the processes by which CUREs are adopted, implemented, and sustained.

Need: There has been a noticeable lack of research on CURE development and implementation in minority-serving institutions (MSI) and two-year contexts. Few studies have examined the skills and pedagogical support required by faculty as they integrate CUREs into their curricula. The process through which faculty decide to adopt new instructional approaches is often unique, affected by both personal and contextual factors. Our goal is to increase CURE adoption and sustainability by understanding the supports, challenges, and barriers across institutional contexts.

Guiding Questions: Institutions can have quite different infrastructures and support for teaching innovation, which are likely to affect instructors’ decisions to adopt and continue using CUREs. Our investigation will occur within the context of the Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Lab (BASIL, project, a CURE where students apply in vitro and in silico methods to predict the function of proteins that lack functional annotation in the Protein Data Bank. BASIL modules are the product of two previous NSF IUSE projects. Notably, instructors have used BASIL modules to create a variety of CURE experiences that align with the specific course-level learning outcomes in their unique local context. The BASIL curriculum affords a well-positioned context for this investigation because of its inherent flexibility and the growing community of instructors interested in adopting BASIL.

Outcomes: We will leverage the modular design of the BASIL CURE and the growing BASIL community to characterize how institutional context influences CURE implementation and sustainability. The BASIL community currently includes Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) and ~30% of interested and/or engaged institutions are Hispanic-Serving or emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). We plan to expand to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community colleges (CCs). This project will contribute to the existing CURE literature by characterizing the barriers to CURE adoption and mechanisms that support sustained CURE implementation across institutional contexts.

Broader Impacts: The knowledge generated will be applicable to other CUREs and can be used in national efforts to increase and more clearly categorize CURE implementation in a greater variety of institution types by designing supports that are responsive to the challenges faced by faculty within their own institutional contexts. We anticipate that increased CURE implementation across a wide range of institutions will ultimately increase participation and inclusion in STEM and contribute to a more diverse STEM workforce.


Paul Craig (Rochester Institute of Technology, New York), Jon Dattelbaum (University of Richmond, Virginia), Anya Goodman (California Polytechnic State University, California), Julia Koeppe (SUNY Oswego, New York), Ashley McDonald (California Polytechnic State University, California), Erika Offerdahl (Washington State University, Washington), Suzanne O’Handley (Rochester Institute of Technology, New York), Michael Pikaart (Hope College, Michigan), Rebecca Roberts (Ursinus College, Pennsylvania), Arthur Sikora (Nova Southeastern University, Florida)