The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), hosted a Community College Undergraduate Research Experience Summit on November 20-22, 2019, in Washington, D.C., held in collaboration with the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) and the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).
The summit was focused on the role of community colleges in building, implementing, and sustaining undergraduate research experiences (UREs) in STEM education and workforce preparation. The event was designed to highlight community college leadership in STEM by raising awareness of the innovative use of UREs as an effective and proven strategy for career skills development, student retention, and academic success.
AACC assembled 130 thought leaders who represented diverse examples of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) from across STEM disciplines to share proven practices and lessons learned; and to enable participants to think broadly about research as a technique that can be applied to a variety of models and settings to advance skills development and prepare students for the workforce.
The summit is intended to assist community colleges, NSF, federal agencies, and other stakeholders in accelerating the value and impact of community colleges in STEM workforce development—through examining and promoting innovation and UREs—and contributing to a community of practice to advance student success, persistence, and STEM completion. Attendees consisted primarily of community college practitioners, with additional stakeholders representing four-year universities, business/industry, nonprofits, and government.
The summit will result in a proceedings report to be published in early 2020 and disseminated nationally, with the objective of broadening community college participation in UREs.
URE DEFINITION: The summit employed a broad definition of UREs to provide for a supportive venue to exchange proven practices and lessons learned, and to offer substantive discussion designed to address areas of significance to developing, implementing, scaling, and sustaining UREs at community colleges.
Undergraduate research experiences (UREs) use the scientific method and/or the engineering design process to promote student learning by investigating a problem where the solution is unknown to students or faculty. UREs provide students with essential workplace and life-long learning skills such as collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, and communication.
Examples of UREs discussed in the context of the Community College URE Summit include course-based research; mentored research as part of a larger project, such as REUS; student centered research such as independent studies and honors projects; employer-based research such as internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships; and STEM design challenges and competitions.