Community colleges provide educational opportunities for students to earn pre-baccalaureate certificates or degrees, transfer to four-year institutions, or complete workforce and skill development programs. Each of these respective types of students would be better prepared for the next step in their careers if they were able to participate in quality undergraduate research experiences.
Over the past few years, CUR has reviewed the needs of community college faculty and administrators and has developed resources to broadly disseminate best-practices and models of undergraduate research to encourage research opportunities for students at two-year institutions.
The project builds upon a two year NSF-ATE (Award# 0603119) planning grant designed to host a series of conversations in six regions of the country to determine what involvement community colleges had in undergraduate research. The final activity of the project was a pilot workshop for community college faculty interested in incorporating undergraduate research into the curriculum. Building upon this pilot program, the National Council of Instructional Administrators (NCIA) and the Council on Undergraduate Research developed a CCLI Phase II project (NSF Award# 0920083. The goal of this project is to develop vibrant undergraduate research programs at community colleges by: (1) developing a workshop curriculum to implement undergraduate research programs tailored to the needs of community colleges; (2) training a cadre of workshop presenters to deliver the workshop curriculum to community college faculty and administrators; (3) providing workshops for community colleges considering undergraduate research programs; (4) providing supplementary web-based materials on funding support and (5) developing an undergraduate research mentoring network of community college faculty. Twelve workshops were held in various parts of the US and were attended by over 325 faculty and administrators from about 110 community colleges.
Regional conversations were the cornerstones of our NSF-ATE planning grant (Award# 0603119). The information and insights gathered in this series of six events are included in this monograph. This publication includes descriptions of existing undergraduate research programs at community colleges; an analysis of successful programs and challenges overcome; recommendations regarding the establishment of undergraduate research programs at community colleges in technician education and transfer programs; and a list of resources for undergraduate research at community colleges.
The Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) is a national consortium of community colleges, four-year schools, government agencies, and private organizations dedicated to the development, implementation, and assessment of a sustainable model for integrating an undergraduate research (UR) experience into a community college biology curriculum. In partnership with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), CCURI has developed a fully-integrated model for integrating undergraduate research at a community college. The model elements focus on the unique barriers that these institutions face as they work toward comprehensive curriculum reform. A three-phase development plan for CCURI was launched in 2005. The model was first pilot tested at Finger Lakes Community College (Canandaigua, NY) and then expanded into a Type II CCLI project: Community College Undergraduate Research: A Model of Integration (NSF#0816515).
The goals for the final phase of CCURI’s development are to 1) Expand a modified version of the CCURI model (based on Type II results) to 16 additional community colleges; 2) Implement a comprehensive evaluation of the CCURI model on student learning, competency, and retention in STEM; 3) Measure the impact of the CCURI model on developing institutional capacity at the 16 additional community colleges that are committed to developing an undergraduate research program; and 4) Disseminate the modified CCURI model of integration and the customized versions of the model as they exist at the institutional partners within CCURI.