What is a CURE?
In the first phase of development of CUREnet, a group of instructors, scientists, evaluators, and education researchers put forth a working definition of a CURE, which CUREnet continues to use. Specifically, a CURE is a project that engages whole classes of students in addressing a research question or problem that is of interest to the scientific community (see Auchincloss et al., 2014 , for details).
Because CUREs are still relatively new in the undergraduate education landscape, there continues to be debate about what constitutes a CURE. Other terms have been used to describe learning experiences that similarly integrate research and instruction, including:
- Discovery-Based Research Courses
- Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience
- Course-Based Research Experience
Key Features of a CURE
CUREs are distinctive as learning experiences, especially in comparison to traditional or inquiry courses, because:
- CUREs offer opportunities for students to make discoveries that are of interest to stakeholders outside the classroom (e.g., the broader scientific community).
- Students' work is iterative, meaning that students must trouble-shoot, problem-solve, and repeat aspects of their work for the research to progress.
- CUREs offer opportunities for students to communicate their research results to those stakeholders.
- Just like in a faculty member's research group, the research in a CURE progresses as students work. This means that new research questions and directions are generated each term and the CURE is unlikely to look the same from year to year.
- Students may engage in a range of science practices such as collecting and analyzing data, building and defending arguments, and collaborating with one another and more experienced scientists. The work that students do in a CURE must build off and have the potential to contribute to a larger body of knowledge in the discipline.