Undergraduate Education Program

California State University, Sacramento

Thomas Landerholm, Kelly McDonald
Sacramento, CA
December 2016

The Sustainable Interdisciplinary Research to Inspire Undergraduate Success (SIRIUS) project at Sacramento State incorporates course based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) into existing laboratory courses to foster collaboration, critical thinking, and science and technology literacy.  The ultimate goal is to improve the retention and success of students, especially those underrepresented in the sciences.  With a focus on human impacts on the American River, adjacent to campus and classified as “Impaired” by the Federal Clean Water Act, students in classes across disciplines will collaborate on a single large problem, generate original data in classes and be better prepared for the workforce and/or graduate school through direct research experience.  The approach is threefold: (1) acquire the needed equipment to study air, water and soil quality, and soil and stream characteristics, both in the field and the laboratory; (2) implement CUREs in six existing laboratory courses in the Departments of Chemistry, Environmental Studies, and Geology; and, (3) evaluate each of the six CUREs for their impact, both on students and faculty, allowing redesign and reimplementation.  Following these initial investments, these courses can be maintained indefinitely within existing departmental operating expenses.  This expansion of the SIRIUS project will give the university greater capacity for student success, faculty engagement, and resolution of this important environmental issue.

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