Science Expo: Encouraging student research and experiential learning across the science department
Thursday 2:45pm Northrop Hall: 340
Oral Session Part of Thursday B: Program and Faculty Development
Undergraduate research is an excellent way to engage STEM students and increase retention. With a wide range of student diversity, community colleges are an important part of the STEM pipeline. Historically, it has been difficult for community colleges to provide undergraduate research opportunities due to lack of funding for projects and little support or opportunity for faculty to pursue research. To address this problem, our department has been encouraging faculty to incorporate research and experiential learning directly into their classes. To take these projects beyond the classroom and give the students an opportunity to present their research in a professional setting, The Science Expo was born. Each semester, the science department does training with the faculty on incorporating research and team projects into the classroom. Modules were developed to help students learn how to write an abstract and publish a research poster. Student research projects are now incorporated into physics, biology, geology, environmental science and integrated science classes. The students present their work at the end of the semester at our department sponsored poster session, The Science Expo. Our future plans are to include other area community colleges and future Honors program capstone projects to this event. We have also introduced a new Experimental Design class to further support students interested in doing team research. Another effort to support and encourage student research was the introduction of the STEM Scholars summer research internship project, supporting seven first generation college students. The students were placed with faculty from RRCC, and several of our four year transfer partners. The students present their research posters at an Expo at the end of the summer semester. Student and faculty response to participation in these efforts has been positive and student retention has increased.