The Impact of Unplanned Remote Instruction on a CURE Paired with Cookbook-style Laboratory Exercises

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In this project we observed whether the change to remote format due to the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on student learning in a previously designed course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE). In this semester-long set of laboratory modules, students develop skills to assess exposure to environmental chemicals. As originally designed, students participate in hands-on cookbook-style labs to learn about extraction methods and are introduced to the CURE-project, which entails authentic sample extraction, data analysis, and presentation of a poster. Rather than completing the full set of modules, the COVID-19 cohort completed the canned labs, but were tasked with virtually viewing the experimental process and analyzing previously collected data. Although previous research has shown that CUREs improve learning gains, it is unclear how direct participation in a project impacts student learning. This provided an opportunity to assess the effects of hands-on participation on student learning in a CURE project. The study used a repeated-measures design to compare student learning across three identical content exams: given before course instruction began, after students conducted the cookbook-style experiments, and at the end of the course, after students participated in the CURE. Because of the transition to remote instruction, a natural pseudo-experiment was performed to compare performance across semesters in on-campus versus remote learning conditions. Despite the difference in instructional experience, the transition to remote instruction had no impact on the exam grades. We believe that understanding of the research project was not hindered by the omission of the hands-on portion of the CURE experiment.


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


Florida Undergraduate Research Association’s (FURA) 2020 Florida Statewide Symposium on Undergraduate Research


Daytona Beach, FL


College of Arts and Sciences


Conference session presented virtually.

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