P821: Global curriculum changes that facilitate undergraduate research experiences
A novel chemistry curriculum was developed and implemented at the U.S. Naval Academy to meet recent American Chemical Society (ACS) program requirements, introduce more student choice in the curriculum, and provide a research experience for every chemistry major. A complete redesign of our laboratory program resulted in reducing 11 credit hours of traditional laboratory courses into a cohesive, 8-credit, 4-semester sequence of integrated laboratory courses covering the core subdisciplines of chemistry. These courses were designed along broader themes with many experiments simultaneously exploring concepts from two or more areas of chemistry. Slimming of the core laboratory curriculum and completing it by the end of junior year facilitated the inclusion of a research or capstone experience for all of our chemistry majors during their senior year. These global curricular changes required significant effort and cooperation, and the acceptance of undergraduate research as a culminating experience worthy of faculty and administrative support. However, we have felt it worth the effort as our number of majors has increased, students seem dramatically more satisfied with the major, interactions between students and faculty have improved, and research productivity has been enhanced. In this presentation, we share our experiences and advice in hopes that these might benefit other institutions contemplating more widespread involvement of their undergraduates in a research experience.