CBS undergraduate education update - fall 2022

November 10, 2022

Dear CBS community,

As we make our way through the fall semester, I wanted to share some updates about undergraduates in the college and educational initiatives we’re working on moving forward. 

Fall 2022 incoming class and NOL@Itasca(link sends e-mail) 

We welcomed 624 new first year students and 67 transfer students into CBS in fall 2022. We returned in person to Itasca and Cedar Creek for our Nature of Life first-year student programming this summer and early fall. We maintained COVID precautions for safety, and feedback from students, peer mentors, and faculty indicates they were overwhelmingly happy to be able to spend time together again. The Nature of Science and Research course for transfer students is also actively welcoming this year’s transfer cohort into the CBS community. We look forward to seeing this year’s incoming students connect with CBS as they move through their degree programs.

Undergraduate research reminders

BIOL 2996 and GopheResearch: I’d like to remind everyone about the 1-credit Directed Introduction to Research course, BIOL 2996, which is aimed at first- or second-year students who have not yet had much experience in research. It’s a great way for students to get to know a research group and for groups to get to know students before committing to a more in-depth directed research, UROP or paid position. Students shadow a research group for a few hours a week, attend lab meetings, and learn about the research area. 

BIOL 2996 and other research opportunities (paid positions, directed research and UROP openings) can be advertised to students via GopheResearch, the CBS research position posting site. Research staff, graduate students, and postdocs are welcome to create and maintain profiles and postings for a group and students can search for openings on campus. I can confirm from activity on the site and conversations with many students that students use GopheResearch to look for opportunities, and I strongly encourage faculty and research groups to use it to advertise openings and recruit excellent undergraduate researchers! 

TRIO McNair Scholars: Another avenue for undergraduate research is through TRIO McNair. The TRIO McNair Scholars Program, which provides a $3,500 research stipend plus substantial professional development support for students, is now accepting applications for the 2023 Cohort. Students can apply for the program at the TRIO McNair website. 

Instructors and mentors can help to build the next McNair cohort by doing the following:

  • Share the TRIO McNair website information with students who you think would be a good fit for the program. They have a short (2:34) What is UMn TRIO McNair animation to introduce program aims.  
  • Advertise it in your classes: Fill out this form if you are interested in accessing our McNair canvas page, which will contain resources that you can copy directly to your canvas page.

Applications for the program are due November 11, 2022 with decisions made in December/early January. If you have any questions, please email sends e-mail).

Undergraduate education updates for 2022-23

2022 SERU results available: The 2022 Undergraduate Student Experience at the Research University (SERU) survey results dashboard is now available to explore for faculty, staff and undergraduate students (with UMN login). Using the filters built into the dashboard site, you can look at results from CBS students and students in your major of interest. Filters include things such as sense of belonging, perceptions of academic effort, and post-degree plans, broken out by a number of different characteristics such as first-generation status, race/ethnicity, gender identity and many other aspects of student identity and experience. Please reach out to me if you have questions about the information in the dashboard, or want to talk more about observations from our CBS student results.

Assessment in CBS: Based on recommendations from the Provost’s Office, one of my projects this year is to engage faculty to connect student learning outcomes in CBS more directly to the work going on in our majors through upper-level courses. Last year I mentioned that there is a system called AEFIS that connects to courses through Canvas and allows linkage of course outcomes (through assignments, exams, or other course assessments) with major or college-based student learning outcomes, for automated analysis of how students are meeting the goals we lay out for them in CBS. I want to work with departments and faculty to identify key outcomes to connect core, upper-level majors courses to major-specific concepts and competencies that can be tracked through course components in Canvas. The pedagogical aspects will come from CBS faculty expertise, and I can help with the administrative and technical aspects. I will be reaching out to departments to work on this in the coming year.

Inclusive teaching updates: Developing inclusive teaching practices will be a continued focus of the next year for CBS, and also across the university as a whole.

  • HLC Quality Initiative on student mental health: This year, UMN is developing activities around the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) Quality Initiative on student mental health (which has been an ongoing focus at UMN through the PRISMH project). A key goal is to establish more instructor and faculty professional development in using approaches like Universal Design for Learning, Teaching with Access and Inclusion, and Inclusive Teaching at a Predominantly White Institution, to better support student mental health. A training is being developed that will be required for all instructors, projected to launch next fall 2023. Resources and best practices will also be shared as part of this initiative. I encourage instructors to reach out to me with questions about where to find information and support on incorporating these best practices into your teaching.
  • CBS Faculty Fellows program: In spring 2023, CBS will also be relaunching the Faculty Fellows for Inclusive Excellence program, which was originally created and funded through Robin Wright’s HHMI grant. This program provides access to training, peer mentoring, and support to do an inclusive teaching research project. A stipend will be provided that can be used in flexible ways (as professional development funds, as summer salary, as a salary augment) depending on faculty needs. Watch for an email in the coming weeks with the announcement and application information.

Thank you all again to all the faculty, educators, staff, and students who make this such an incredible place to work and conduct research. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Have a great rest of your semester.


Laurie Parker
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, CBS