What should students be able to do? Helping students recognize professional skills in our courses.

C. J. Yahnke, H. C. Lanier, E. Flaherty, J. Varner, K. E. Munroe, Jennifer Duggan, L. P. Erb, L. Dizney, P. K. Connors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the traditional goals of undergraduate courses are often content-based, the development of career-readiness and professional skills, such as those listed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are increasingly recognized as important learning outcomes. As Mammalogy courses embrace more hands-on learning activities, they provide the opportunity to embed these professional skills, which are directly relevant to many careers in science. For example, many Mammalogy courses may include projects that incorporate experimental design and data analysis that focus on quantitative literacy, in addition to technical skills including small mammal trapping and handling, or preparing voucher specimens, that focus on problem-solving and attention to detail. Here, we review the professional skills that can be developed through a Mammalogy course and evaluate evidence-based approaches to build those skills into our courses. One approach, using Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), provides opportunities for both student skill development and instructor research program development. Because they invite students to participate in authentic scientific inquiry—from study design and data collection, to analysis and reporting of results—students participating in CUREs reported significant gains in their comfort with several important professional skills, including conducting field procedures, formulating and analyzing data, normalizing failure, and attempting new procedures on their own. Finally, we review the literature to demonstrate how active learning approaches inherent in CUREs can help students to build familiarity with technologies and techniques for collecting and assessing data from wild mammal populations, as well as to build important professional skills such as teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and written and oral communication.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
StatePublished - Apr 10 2023


  • competencies
  • CURE
  • pedagogy
  • skills
  • workforce development


  • Science and Mathematics Education

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