Integrating Authentic Research as Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts in an Undergraduate Bioenergy Course
Integrating teaching and research can benefit both instructors and students by providing an enriching, stimulating experience that combines the instructors’ interests with topics that are relevant and motivating to students. In keeping with National Science Foundation review criteria, the integrated course captures both intellectual merit, that is the technological and scientific innovation of the research, and broader impacts, that is the potential benefits to society. This article describes a bioenergy course that included several well-known learning activities, including lab tours, lab activities, guest lectures, and group discussions, to integrate intellectual merit and broader impacts into undergraduate education. Each of these techniques fills a specific role in delivering content that helps break down barriers between research and education. Overall student response has been positive, with course evaluations providing qualitative evidence of greater student motivation and deeper learning.