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.