Undergraduate Students prepping samples for their research as part of the CLS Education ProgramsUndergrads putting their samples in IDEAS beamlineUndergrads presenting the CLS research at a poster session

The Undergraduate Research Program offers the opportunity for students to take part in research offered through a course. There are different ways that the Undergraduate Research Program such as an Integrated Project, Lab Based Experience, or Group Research Project.

There are many different ways to approach a research project in an undergraduate course which can be developed and discussed with the CLS Education Team. If you are interested and would like to learn more, please contact our Education Program Lead for more information.

Integrated Project

There have been several undergraduate courses where a student-driven research project using synchrotron techniques has been integrated into the delivery of the course. Having students design, execute, and report on their own project takes significant time and so it typically requires a full term (4 months). It typically results in rich and meaningful learning, which is potentially a good context for delivery of other course content and outcomes. All students participate so it requires smaller class-size in courses and works well in upper-year classes. Here are some examples done with the University of Saskatchewan:

  • CMRS/CHEM 398
    Offered to students in both Chemistry and Classical, Medieval, & Renaissance Studies this course was co-taught by faculty from each department (Tom Ellis & Tracene Harvey) and the Education Programs Lead (Tracy Walker) with support from beamline staff and the Museum of Antiquities. Each group of students designed a chemistry experiment from within a historical research context using either x-ray fluorescence or mid-IR spectroscopy requiring reviews of literature from both humanities and sciences. Projects included studies into ancient coins, faience (finely glazed ceramic), and pottery as well as medieval manuscripts and bronze disease (common to artifacts from across the ages). Further information can be found here
    • Video on the CMRS/CHEM 398 course by the Museum of Antiquities
      "Crossing Beams: An Intersection of Disciplines"
  • ECUR 411
    This is a course on inquiry-based teaching and learning offered to Education students in their final term. Students divide their time between an exploration of ways to approach this pedagogy in various subject areas and grade levels, while at the same time working through their own inquiry/experiment using synchrotron techniques as a student. Students connect their experiences with their scientific inquiry with pedagogy of assessment, instruction, facilitation, and integration of other ways of knowing. Their confidence in many of these concepts, including the research process, builds throughout their experience and it is hoped they can take their immersive experience into their own classrooms. The course is taught by the Education Programs Lead (Tracy Walker) with support from CLS staff and other scientists to mentor the students. You can see some of the students in action here.
  • CHEM 420
    Focused on synchrotron spectrochemical analysis, this course is offered to fourth year chemistry students and was taught by faculty (Tom Ellis) and beamline staff (Scott Rosendahl) with support from other beamline staff and the Education Programs Lead (Tracy Walker). It is a project-based course intended to give students introductory experience with several analytical techniques, both within a chemistry laboratory atmosphere and with a synchrotron, as well as within a simulated business setting. Students participate in several smaller projects, some of which require data collection and analysis at one or more beamlines throughout the course.
Lab-Based Experience

Sometimes the student-driven research project does not quite fit to be integrated into an undergraduate course, so some professors have included it within the lab portion of the undergraduate course. The research topic that the students do tends to be more guided and structured to ensure success in the limited time that is offered. Here is an example done with the University of Saskatchewan:

  • EVRS 110 - FYRE Project
    The University of Saskatchewan First Year Research Experience projects across the campus. In Environmental Sciences 110 taught by Colin Laroque in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, students have a choice to opt in for a larger student-driven synchrotron-based research experience as opposed to a smaller project that is combined with a more typical lab experience. Several students that have opted for the synchrotron-based experience, have then joined the Mistik Askîwin Dendrochronolgy (MAD) Lab as research assistants, grad students, or for their undergraduate thesis work. 
Group Research Project

Another way that a research project has been incorporated into an undergraduate course is by offering it as an assignment. Here is an example done with the University of Saskatchewan:

  • ECUR Courses
    Tim Molnar, faculty in the College of Education, often offers the opportunity to conduct a synchrotron-based research project as part of his courses for future teachers. This has been offered in an introductory science course as well as both elementary and senior science teaching methods courses. The size and scope of these project vary with course outcomes and are developed collaboratively with the Education Programs Lead. An example of one such project can be found here

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