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 digital environment. with the launch of the Online Undergraduate Research Scholars (NTRE) program. The new program will provide hands-on, experiential learning specifically for students enrolled through ASU Online.
âThe OURS program strengthens 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 university for online students and has the potential to serve the nearly 58,000 undergraduate students enrolled in online degree programs at ASU, âsaid declared Patrick kenney, Dean of the College.
Recently ASU graduate Jacquie Krause (left) with School of Life Sciences lecturer Susan Holechek during a group research experience of the OURS pilot program for online students, where they had the opportunity to learn and practice some common molecular biology techniques. Photo by Louisa Brill
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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.
âOur online students are an integral part of the great ASU community, and they are here to stay,â 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. âThe fact that research opportunities are not widely available to online students in all academic disciplines is an issue we need 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 for 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 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.
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. The students had the opportunity to learn and practice some common techniques of molecular biology within the framework of two authentic research projects in the field of population genetics.
Louisa Brill, an ASU online student who studies biological sciences and biochemistry, participated in the pilot immersion program and said it was her first time to conduct research in person.
âThe lack of in-person research experiences is the number one concern for most online science students, and there is a huge demand for programs like OURS,â Brill said. âFor most of us, this was our first research experience of any kind, let alone in person. Although I am pursuing a science degree, this was my first time considering myself a scientist, and I know many others share 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.
âWhile 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, âshe 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 into his research,” said Julie greenwood, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives at EdPlus. âThe experience has completely changed my life, which is why I am where I am today. ASU is committed to bringing transformative experiences, such as undergraduate research, to our online students. The OURS program will change lives.
For any questions about the OURS program, contact Ara Austin at [email protected]