Campus News

CURO provides innovative model of inquiry-based learning for others

Pamela Kleiber

UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities was the subject of a presentation at the annual fall conference of the American Society for Cell Biology. 

CURO’s Pamela Kleiber and Marcus Fechheimer, a professor of cellular biology and a member of the advisory board of CURO’s research apprentice program, discussed the unique opportunities the center offers and shared quantitative and qualitative methods used to evaluate how the center affects student participation in research.

For example, participation in CURO’s annual spring symposium has grown from 74 to 178 students in the five years since it started.

“Colleagues from other institutions admired the fact that CURO is university-wide and involves students studying not only the sciences, but the humanities, arts and social sciences,” says Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program. “They were also impressed that CURO was established in the Honors Program and achieved institutional permanence and stability using the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education Grant from the federal government.

“Other external funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation has allowed CURO to expand the scope of its programs,” she also says. 

Kleiber and Fechheimer assessed the effectiveness of CURO for the past two years in the context of the ongoing national dialogue prompted by the Boyer Commission Report on Reinventing Undergraduate -Education. 

The 1998 report challenged research universities, in particular, to share their vast intellectual resources with their undergraduate population through innovative programs promoting inquiry, investigation and discovery.

“A series of major reports -regarding the state of education in universities across the U.S. in the past five to 10 years call for reform,” says Fechheimer, who has mentored undergraduates with UGA colleague Ruth Furukawa since the 1980s. “The CURO program at UGA is one model of an innovation that has been implemented with some success, and significant hope for future gains with continued effort and commitment.”