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Enhancing undergraduate students’ preparation and interest in science careers frequently involves engagement in authentic research experiences. Traditional undergraduate research (UR) one-to-one faculty-to-student ratio is challenged by demand and cost, motivating the development of alternative approaches to offering these experiences. Embracing this challenge we integrated UR experiences into three undergraduate biology courses, each taking a different approach to engaging students. The approaches varied the amount of teacher and student responsibility, reflecting different levels of inquiry instruction; one in which students were embedded into the faculty’s on-going research; a second in which faculty provided the hypotheses and methodology and students were responsible for experiment details and implementation; and a third in which students were responsible for all aspects of research on any topic that fit within the scope of the course. We assessed and compared students’ affective and cognitive outcomes related to engagement in scientific research. Overall, all participants felt their experiences were effective for learning and positively influenced interest in and knowledge of science. However, students’ perceived gains differed, with greatest gains detected in students engaged in the most authentic inquiry approach (ANOVA: p < 0.01).

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This document was originally published by Institute for STEM Education and Research in Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research. Copyright restrictions may apply.