UMaine to host AAAS session on research learning experiences

The University of Maine will host a live panel discussion at the 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting at 2 p.m. Feb. 8. The theme for this year’s meeting, which will be held virtually, is Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems. 

The session facilitated by the University of Maine, “Fostering Career Development Through Research Learning Experiences,” seeks to share effective approaches to integrating diverse student populations into scholarly research communities through authentic experiential learning at the high school and college levels. 

The workshop will feature presentations by panelists with unique, complementary understanding of research learning experiences (RLEs) across disciplines. UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy will offer opening remarks to kick off the workshop, which will be moderated by Ali Abedi, associate vice president for research and director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. 

Mauricio Pereira da Cunha, professor of electrical and computer engineering, will highlight RLEs in secondary education, and outline strategies for recruiting pre-college students for fellowships in STEM disciplines. Sally Molloy, assistant professor of genomics, will discuss engaging college students in course-based RLEs with a focus on sustaining the social-emotional connections that facilitate learning, and building core competencies such as critical thinking. Associate professor of microbiology Melissa Maginnis will describe beneficial program-level support systems, which include structured fellowships, establishment of research communities and methods for showcasing student accomplishments. Panelists will interact with the audience in a Q&A session following their brief presentations.  

Some of the learning outcomes from this workshop include: 

  • Learning transferable strategies for engaging students in RLEs in support of college recruitment
  • Application of RLEs to enrich the undergraduate student experience and support retention
  • Methods of building students’ critical thinking skills with classroom experiences 
  • Supporting students by connecting them with authentic research communities and engaging them in peer-based learning
  • Understanding research learning in a rural context 

This session, which is part of the Career Development track, is free and open to the public; registration with AAAS is required. More information about AAAS and the annual meeting is online