Arizona State University: College Launches New Online Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

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September 21, 2021

As e-learning continues to experience significant growth in higher education institutions nationwide, Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is expanding the opportunities that are traditionally offered in-person to the environment. digital with the launch of online undergraduate researchers. NTRE) program. The new program will provide hands-on, experiential learning specifically for students enrolled through ASU Online.

“The OURS program reinforces the College’s commitment to excellence and inclusion by creating opportunities that allow students to feel well equipped for their future careers. We are delighted that this program is the first of its kind at the OURS. university for online students and has the potential to serve the nearly 58,000 undergraduate students enrolled in online degree programs at ASU, ”said Patrick kenney, Dean of the College.

Recent research professors from the School of Life Sciences Sara brownell and Katelyn Cooper, as well as graduate service assistant Logan gin, found that 82% of ASU online students surveyed pursue career goals in medicine and scientific research. In addition, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Inclusive Excellence faculty team found that more than half of online students surveyed in introductory biology courses had not heard of the research opportunities at ASU that they could participate online or remotely and 31% did not think they were qualified to conduct research.

“Our online students are an integral part of the great ASU community, and they are here to stay,” said Macaw austin, director of online engagement and strategic initiatives and clinical assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, who led the OURS program. “The fact that research opportunities are not widely available to online students in all academic disciplines is an issue we had to address as an institution. We hope that the OURS program will be able to generate creative and scalable solutions that will provide critical experiential learning. experiences to online students. “

The program, led by the College and supported by EdPlus at ASU, launched this fall in the college’s natural sciences division with plans to expand to the social and human sciences divisions over the next academic year. Nearly a dozen faculty and staff provided feedback and ideas to help shape the OURS program.

The OURS program also builds on other undergraduate research opportunities offered through the College, including the Undergraduate research learning program of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. The learning program allows students to work directly with faculty members and their teams on research projects, with many positions having the option of being completed online from anywhere in the world.

The OURS program is made up of several components, in particular:

Provide seed funding for faculty to develop and launch group research courses for online students. During group research experiences, online students will work as a team to contribute to a research project or research question. Some of these experiences will be offered in a hybrid format and some experiences will be offered in a fully remote format.

Offer scholarships to online students who have excelled in their research efforts.

Created a new introductory course titled Undergraduate Research Foundations that will focus on teaching research principles and function as a professional development training program for online students interested in research.

Organize community development events such as research symposia and professional development workshops for online students.

This summer, a group research experience for online students was piloted and led by Susan holechek, lecturer at the Faculty of Life Sciences. Fifteen students from Holechek’s online General Genetics course participated in a four-day in-person research experience at ASU’s Tempe campus. Students had the opportunity to learn and practice some common molecular biology techniques as part of two authentic research projects in the field of population genetics.

Louisa Brill, an ASU online student studying biological sciences and biochemistry, participated in the pilot immersion program and said it was her first time to conduct research in person.

“The lack of in-person research experiences is the biggest concern for most online science majors, and there is a huge demand for programs like OURS,” Brill said. “For most of us, this was our first research experience of any kind, let alone speaking in person. Although I am pursuing a degree in science, it was the first time that I had considered myself a scientist, and I know many others who shared this sentiment, this experience has shown me that there are many ways to contribute to this field and that each contribution is meaningful because there is always more to learn.

Brill added that she left the experience with a new mindset and the skills to feel confident enough to continue her research efforts.

“While the program dramatically expanded my knowledge of genetics and provided me with highly marketable skills and experiences to add to my resume, it also instilled in me a passion for research and an interest in cultivating that in my life. future career, ”she said. .

Brill was invited to join Holechek’s lab and is now contributing to an ongoing project led by a graduate student. She will also serve as a teaching assistant for the next immersion program in October.

When undergraduate students participate in research, there may be a number of advantages including an increase in confidence in their research abilities and a higher likelihood of students pursuing higher education. Research experiences are also linked to higher retention rates and have been shown to impact students self-efficacy and career choice in STEM, especially for under-represented minority students.

“As an undergraduate student, I struggled until my professor hired me in his research,” said Julie greenwood, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives at EdPlus. “The experience completely changed my life, and that’s why I am where I am today. ASU is committed to bringing transformative experiences, such as undergraduate research, to our students online. BEAR program will change lives. “

For any questions about the OURS program, contact Ara Austin at [email protected].

From 2020 with Idaho’s Equity in Women’s Sport Act, more than 30 states have enacted or introduced legislation that requires students to compete in sports teams based on their assigned sex at birth, according to GLSEN.

Transgender Youth and Sports: A Critical Inquiry into the Self-Representation Storytelling, funded by the Humanities research institute and the World Institute of Sport, seeks to disrupt anti-transgender legislation and policies through the power of storytelling.

“People connect by listening or stepping into the lives of others through stories. This is how we share our experiences and feelings, our view of the world,” said Madelaine Adelman, principal researcher of the project and professor of justice and social inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University.

“Stories can generate attention and empathy in a way that no numbers can. We need the numbers too, but it’s the combination of the numbers and the stories that helps people take action. Story-based advocacy helps abstract issues come to life. ”

The project team is focused on collecting primary student accounts.

“The central component of the research allows us to learn from transgender and non-binary youth, high school students and especially high school students about their experiences in sport and physical education: what they like, what they wish to see changed, how they overcame barriers to school and community participation, and how they created change in their school communities, ”said Adelman.

In addition to sharing their stories with the Transgender Youth and Sports Project, participants will also gain valuable skills to help them share their experiences with the community.

“The students of the project will participate in a workshop on digital storytelling and media literacy so that they can connect with each other and organize their own stories, disseminate them on social media and, as citizen scientists, track audience engagement with their stories, ”Adelman mentioned.

Principal investigators on the project hope to create a research model that can be replicated in communities across the United States facing anti-transgender laws and school policies. They will explore questions such as:

What types of stories are gaining ground with which audiences and why?

How does participating in story-based advocacy affect the health and well-being of storytellers?

This public education campaign will focus not only on legislative changes, but also on the positive impact that sport can have on all young people.

“We want to highlight the joy and love of sport, as well as the value of being comfortable and feeling powerful in your body for all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression,” said Adelman said.

Students interested in participating in the project can contact [email protected]. Parental approval is required for students under the age of 18. Adults, including parents, coaches, friends and family, are also welcome to share their views.


This press release was produced by Arizona State University. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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