Graduate Course-based Research Experiences: Lessons Learned from Mississippi State University
Course-based Research Experiences are a growing area of interest, because they allow learning and engagement to take place by involving students in real, broadly applicable research. At Mississippi State University, a research-based course for both undergraduate and graduate students was initially developed as part of an NSF-sponsored diversity enhancement initiative to create a sense of community and belonging among minority students and participants from Delta State University with the hope of exposing them to graduate study and career options while also building scientific self-confidence. Subsequently, the course was offered to graduate students in distance learning programs as an option for a capstone course required to complete either of two largely non-thesis master's degree programs, Teachers in Geosciences and Environmental Geoscience. The course is set up as a week-long research project in geomicrobiology and is based on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. In this course, students develop objectives, form hypotheses to test, and carry out background research. The following days are devoted to a field trip, sample processing, sample imaging and analysis, followed by preparation of a poster to be presented at the GSA Annual Meeting and a paper for publication. The course has been highly successful on multiple levels. It has provided students with a real geoscience research experience in a short period including field work and sample processing. Students are exposed to aspects of high-tech data acquisition and all participate in the art of presenting and discussing results as a poster, abstract, and paper. The peer-reviewed posters (N=7), abstracts (N=7), and papers (N=2) document the level of student engagement, understanding, and learning about microbially induced precipitates in outcrops in Mississippi. Our paper will describe how this course was developed along with implications for teacher education and the broader Geoscience Education community.
This session has already taken place.