Course-based research experiences (CUREs) are currently of high interest due to their potential for engaging undergraduate students in authentic research and maintaining their interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. As part of a campuswide initiative called STEMCats, which is a living learning program offered to freshman STEM majors at the University of Kentucky funded by a grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we have developed a CURE for freshmen interested in pursuing health care careers. Our course, entitled “Drug–Drug Interactions in Breast Cancer,” utilized a semester-long, in-class authentic research project and instructor-led discussions to engage students in a full spectrum of research activities, ranging from developing hypotheses and experimental design to generating original data, collaboratively interpreting results and presenting a poster at a campus-wide symposium. Student’s feedback indicated a positive impact on scientific understanding and skills, enhanced teamwork and communication skills, as well as high student engagement, motivation, and STEM belonging. STEM belonging is defined as the extent to which a student may view the STEM fields as places where they belong. The results obtained from this pilot study, while preliminary, will be useful for guiding design revisions and generating appropriate objective evaluations of future pharmacological-based CUREs.

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Published in Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, v. 3, p. 57-66.

© the authors, publisher and licensee Libertas Academica Limited.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC -BY-NC 3.0 License.

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Funding was provided by a “Sustaining Excellence-2014” competition grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Grant #52008116) awarded to the University of Kentucky (V. Cassone, PI).