The Undergraduate-Field Experiences Research Network (U-FERN) seeks to build a vibrant, supportive, and sustainable collaborative network that fosters effective undergraduate field experiences by working toward the following four objectives:
1) Identify and share evidence-based models and practices for engaging a diverse range of undergraduates in effective field and marine learning experiences.
2) Identify, modify, develop, and share assessment tools for understanding the impact of field and marine learning experiences on undergraduate student learning, STEM identity, and career trajectories.
3) Investigate how undergraduate field experiences can be more inclusive and attract and serve students from different ethnic and racial groups and with physical disabilities who are currently underrepresented in field-based sciences such as marine science, ecology and geosciences.
4) Harness the power of a network of programs that provide undergraduate learning experiences to do research on student learning and contribute our findings to the broader body of evidence about undergraduate STEM learning.
U-FERN will build a new research network that includes researchers in the social and learning sciences, practitioners leading undergraduate field experiences in a range of disciplines, and undergraduate field educators in a range of disciplines who are working to broaden participation in STEM through collaborative projects that are supported by network meetings, interdisciplinary working groups, workshops at national-level conferences and meetings, and virtual collaboration tools.
This project is being jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO), Division of Biological Infrastructure, and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Division of Undergraduate Education as part of their efforts to address the challenges posed in Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action. This project is also co-funded by the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) in the BIO directorate.