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The Biology Department at Jacksonville State University (JSU) in Alabama has incorporated an undergraduate research experience (URE) into its curriculum for both BA and BS degree programs . This experience involves the following semester courses: • BY 370 (Introduction to Research in Biology): two semester credits, sophomore level • BY 327 (Directed Studies in Biology) or BY 427 (Independent Study in Biology): variable credits, junior year • BY 496 (Senior Seminar) two credits, senior level The Department has recognized the need for both substantive coursework and an undergraduate research experience in its biology curriculum . The JSU URE is the outcome of curricular revision over the past 14 years . BY 370 and BY 496 are required courses, whereas independent research involves optional courses intended to interest students in research. BY 327 and BY 427 had been in the curriculum for some time, available for student research projects under the tutelage of a faculty mentor . BY 370 was initiated in 1991 to introduce majors to the science and art of biological research and grant-writing in an effort to strengthen the outcome of BY 327 and BY 427 . This course is now offered with multiple sections and instructors both semesters every year . Today, BY 327 and BY 427 enable students to conduct original field and/or laboratory research, educational research in biology, or substantive library-based research of an approved biological topic . BY 496, a required course since 2002, involves both a senior thesis and an oral presentation, the latter given in a department-wide symposium format . BY 496 is the Biology Department’s capstone course for all matriculating biology majors . The overall URE Experience has enabled the Department to integrate “communication across its curriculum” in a way that was never possible before . This paper concerns a modification to BY 370 . In this course, students now actively participate in an NSF-style peer review of their own undergraduate research proposals in biology.

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The American Biology Teacher, 2007, 69(1), 34–37.



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