Full engagement in science includes the development of a hypothesis, designing and conducting an appropriate experiment to test that hypothesis, and appropriate analysis and dissemination of results. Here I report on an NSF-ILI funded project to enhance the data acquisition, analysis, and presentation components of a project-based curriculum focusing on an advanced undergraduate plant ecology course. The course is taught almost exclusively in the field and is focused on articulating scientific questions. Students conduct semester-long experimental research projects and present their results at a public poster session on campus. Using NSF funded computers, peripherals, and software, the quality of the student research was enhanced, and student pride and ownership over the work increased. Students exhibited a greater understanding of science and quantitative analysis. One student project was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and another was presented at a regional meeting. The number of students taking elective courses in related areas, continuing research and senior honors projects, and applying and accepted to graduate programs in ecological and plant sciences significantly increased. Student poster sessions served to create a campus-wide culture of science.

Key words: PA, 18104. Biology Department, 18104., Allentown, Muhlenberg College, process of science, project-based learning, researchBiology Department