Faculty Professional Identity in Community Networks for Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences
Effective Years: 2023-2026
This project aims to serve the national interest by investigating faculty professional identity in Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) community networks. Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to benefit undergraduate students’ success by improving critical thinking skills, retention in STEMs, and graduation rate. CUREs provide effective alternatives to traditional and extensive undergraduate research experiences through incorporating key components of research into classroom or lab settings so that all students have access to research experiences and scientific practices. To support their students in CUREs, several large community networks of faculty at different institutions have formed; each community network focuses on a different topical area. Research on the assessment of CURE efficacy has been largely focused on student outcomes, such as its effect on conceptual learning, self-efficacy, and science identity. Few studies have looked into faculty professional identities and their roles in teaching CUREs, which will consequently impact the success of students. To help fill this important knowledge gap, this project will recruit and interview faculty from CURE community networks to investigate how faculty professional identities are influenced through participating in CURE community networks. Findings from this project will advance understanding of faculty professional identity and benefit a diverse pool of CURE faculty through informing faculty professional development activities, which will in turn broaden access to research opportunities for students from various backgrounds through enrollment in CUREs.
The goal of this Individual Investigator Development – New project is to address how participation in CURE Communities of Practice impacts faculty professional identities, and to refine a faculty professional identity framework which accounts for their participation and its effects on their identities as researchers and instructors. Prior studies identified the benefits of teaching CUREs for faculty, including producing preliminary results for research, contributing to tenure and promotion, and recruiting high-quality students to faculty labs. Barriers to CURE teaching include increased time commitment, lack of subject knowledge on research topics, and limited resources. However, the roles of faculty teaching and research identities in CUREs have not been studied together. This project will take the lens of identity to explore faculty motivation and decision-making in CUREs to address this significant knowledge gap. This project will recruit CURE faculty from Malate dehydrogenase CUREs Community network and Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Laboratory network to take part in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts will be team-coded and analyzed by thematic analysis. For this individual investigator development grant, the principal investigator will be mentored by a diverse team of senior researchers with expertise in qualitative education research and participate in professional development workshops. The principal investigator will also work with an advisory board with a broader range of expertise related to the project. Project findings will be disseminated through conference presentations and journal publications. This project is supported by NSF’s EDU Core Research Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (ECR BCSER) program, which is designed to build investigators’ capacity to carry out high-quality STEM education research in the core areas of STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM fields, and STEM workforce development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.