CURating Science Literacy and Professional Identity Among Biology and Science Education Majors

by Tonia A. Dousay, University of Idaho; Brant G. Miller, University of Idaho; & Christine E. Parent, University of Idaho

In this article, we discuss a novel approach to course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) by exploring the impact of a near-peer configuration within three courses: the Elementary Science Education and Secondary Science Methods courses for education students and the Dimensions of Biodiversity course for students in the biological sciences. We were interested in understanding how students from education would benefit from partnering with students from the sciences and vice versa. We discuss our approach to designing and implementing the near-peer approach along with extended details regarding the process for research groups. We used a modified Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) to understand how science and science education majors influence one another in developing researcher identity, including scientific literacy and communication skills, after engaging in a near-peer structured CURE. Our results show that most science education students reported increased interest in conducting research in the future and some biology students reported an increased interest in teaching science. Logistical and interpersonal relationships were noted as the primary adverse challenges to implementation. Future programming and research efforts should expand to include other scientific disciplines and pay close attention to interpersonal dynamics, especially during the matchmaking phase.