Guiding Education through Novel Investigation (GENI): Facilitating and assessing the impact of authentic research in the classroom
Involvement in authentic research immerses students in the processes of science providing a rich learning experience that promotes deeper engagement, curiosity, critical thinking and interdisciplinary application of learning. Providing students the opportunity to participate in authentic research in the classroom as an integral component of their science curricula disseminates these benefits to a larger student population.
The GENI-ACT program facilitates learning in undergraduate science classrooms through shared authentic research projects focused on molecular, cellular and developmental biology, genetics, genomics and biochemistry. The results generated in this program are intended for publication in peer reviewed literature or scientific databases. We provide examples of research projects that are applicable to diverse levels of students and disciplines currently ranging from genomics to physical biochemistry.
The GENI program has two components. First, the Guided Education through Novel Investigation (GENI) tool supports collaborative research projects by providing objectives, protocols, data collection, and physical resources. Users may join existing projects, or create a new project. Second, the Annotation Collaboration Tool (ACT) provides bioinformatics tools and access to hundreds of bacterial genomes to facilitate diverse computational investigations.
We share two years of assessment results derived from student and faculty interviews, classroom observations and student responses to the Student Science Learning Gains Instrument that was developed and validated during this project. Our results show significant gains in student learning, engagement, scientific literacy, scientific process and broad-based problem solving across multiple institutions. We also discuss the benefits and challenges of adding real-world research to the classroom and effective methods of assessing its value.
The GENI project and assessment has impacted over 600 students in the past two years. During the last year 19 faculty users at 18 different institutions have used GENI-ACT for course-based research projects in 32 courses involving a total of 667 students (high school and undergraduate) working on 18 different microbial genomes. The results of this work have been disseminated by members of our research group at 12 workshops, conference presentations or posters over the last year.
Challenge: Maintenance of project resources post grant
Approach: Not resolved. Develop resources that require minimal maintenance.
Challenge: Adopting faculty face implementation challenges at home institution.
Approach: Develop web based resources to guide and support implementation.