Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Across a Zoology Curriculum: an Evaluation Through the Lens of External Peer Review

Susan M. Jones, Paula Myatt

Abstract


It has been established that student learning is greatly enhanced as a result of student engagement through research and inquiry based learning. However little emphasis has been given to how relationships between teaching and research are built within faculties or departments. External review of programs is a key strategy for building shared ownership of teaching programs. This project brought together a head of school and an external peer reviewer to carry out an evaluation of undergraduate research and inquiry across a curriculum, and to examine the student benefits. The first stage of the project, reported here, examined the extent to which undergraduate students are exposed to research and inquiry experiences within a department of Zoology. The approach utilized a mixed methodology including surveys and qualitative interviews with teaching staff. The reviewer identified a broad diversity of undergraduate research opportunities for students from first to third year, and a scaffolded approach to developing the students as researchers. In designing these learning activities, the teaching academics aimed to capture authentic research experiences for their students. This review ‘closes a loop’ between teaching and research within a department through critical evaluation of a program of undergraduate research opportunities. Stage Two of this project will focus on the student voices.

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