New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Curriculum Objectives of the Irish SURE Network

Therese Montgomery, Athlone Institute of Technology (Ireland)


The Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Network is an academic partnership, established in 2017 by over 30 academics from 8 different third level Institutes of Technology (IoT’s)/Technological Universities (TU’s) around Ireland. The SURE Network is committed to enhancing undergraduate research practice in STEM and to raising both industry and community awareness of the standard of excellence and diverse range of applied research activities taking place at undergraduate level across the IoT/TU sector. A primary initiative undertaken by the SURE Network in 2017 was to create a platform, the SURE Network undergraduate research conference, from which final year students in STEM could showcase the key analytical scientific skills and graduate attributes developed through their 4th year research project, such as logical reasoning, data analysis, critical thinking, problem solving, scientific writing and science communication. Trending under #SURE18, the hugely successful inaugural SURE conference took place in September 2018 across three regional venues on one day. Over 26 oral research seminars and 80 scientific posters were presented by final year undergraduate students to 500 third level students, industry professionals and multi-institutional academic staff from across Ireland. Conference keynotes and Q&A sessions were provided by Invited speakers from the pharma/biopharma and medical device sectors, whilst postgraduate workshops introduced the audience to ‘a day in the life’ of multi-disciplinarian PhD students from across the sector. Now in its second year, The SURE Network was awarded “Best Academic Partnership” at the 2019 Irish Education Awards for its work in establishing the national SURE Network conference, Ireland’s first national conference dedicated to the enhancement of scientific practice, training and research excellence at undergraduate level across the IoT/TU sector. Participation with the SURE conference gives graduates the opportunity to provide evidence of the obtainment of key graduate employability attributes to future employers, as identified by IBEC 2018 [1]. In addition, the open access, expert reviewed SURE undergraduate research journal, SURE-J was launched by the SURE Network journal team in September 2019, with the publication of six student research articles.  Work is ongoing through the SURE Network Curriculum committee to promote research awareness and research driven teaching through the establishment of common research initiatives and shared tools across the IoT/TU sector in Ireland. National surveys are underway of three stakeholders in higher level undergraduate research (students, lecturers and industry) to identify current best practice, as well as areas where practice may be improved. Future work of the Curriculum committee will focus on the creation of online platforms for shared research resources/collaborations across the IoT/TU sector and the development of a multi-step model of best practice for the establishment of key research attributes in future graduates.

Keywords: Undergraduate Research, STEM, best-practice, curriculum.

[1] IIBEC, 2018, Future ready improving graduate employability skills’.

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