IMPACT OF PARTICIPATION IN A CLASSROOM UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE AT A HISPANIC-SERVING INSTITUTION ON FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS' ATTITUDES TOWARDS GENETICALLY MODIFIED PLANTS
Alejandro Cortez, Marsha Ing, James Burnette, Susan Wessler.
University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA.
Within the context of a classroom undergraduate research experience (CURE) at a Hispanic-serving institution, this study examined the change in first year students’ attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) plants. Unlike traditional undergraduate research experiences, CUREs provide curriculum-based, instructor-led opportunities for large numbers of undergraduates to access high quality research experiences. Students in this study were randomly assigned to either a CURE focused on GM plants or a CURE characterizing insertion mutations in rice or in the mouse genome. The GM-focused CURE was designed to challenge students’ prior knowledge of GM plants by having them devise computational and experimental strategies to detect specific genetic modifications in familiar crops. Findings indicate that students who participated in the GM-CURE had more positive attitudes than the control CURE even after statistically controlling for student characteristics (such as gender and ethnicity). The Hispanic students who participated in the GM-CURE were not statistically different in their attitudes towards GM plants when compared to other students in the group. Implications for this research include ways of improving and expanding CURE curriculum to serve student populations that have been typically underrepresented in STEM fields.