Icon for: Laleh Cote


University of California Berkeley

Undergraduate research built on students’ own funds of knowledge

NSF Awards: 1106400

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12, Undergraduate

This is a project to develop, implement, and assess a new model for undergraduate research targeting community college STEM majors who are first or near-first generation to college. There are a few major factors that have influenced this work: a) persistence in STEM is lower for students from historically underrepresented groups, b) many studies have shown the benefits of early engagement in undergraduate research, and c) current research by this team has revealed that many community college students do not have access to these opportunities. In this new model, students work with a research team to develop the technical skills needed to contribute to the design of a research project in microbial ecology. As “science ambassadors,” students will implement a plan to share their research project with members of their own community, as well as learning to communicate effectively to general audiences. We hypothesize that the development of oneself as a creator of scientific knowledge during their undergraduate studies will support student science identity, integrate them into the scientific community, and give them tools to persist in STEM beyond graduation. Grounded in the Funds of Knowledge framework, this new undergraduate research model leverages students’ lived experiences in order to create novel solutions to issues in the communities that shaped them. An intended long-term impact of this program is for increased communication and collaboration between scientific researchers, the students they mentor, and students’ own home communities, especially for those communities that currently have little representation in STEM.

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