Building Creative Thinking into the STEM Undergraduate Classroom Experience Using Large Databases: The Paleobiology Database Example




active learning, critical thinking, research experience


Undergraduate research experiences have been linked to increased student recruitment and retention in STEM, particularly within traditionally underrepresented populations. However, research experiences can be cost prohibitive due to the infrastructure necessary to conduct experiments or collect field data. Existing, large scientific databases can be leveraged to provide students (including students in online courses) with authentic research experiences without the logistical costs. The Paleobiology Database ( is one of many publicly available (and free) scientific databases. This project describes authentic research activities which engage students at several 4 and 2-year institutions in the southeastern United States use the data available in the Paleobiology Database to engage in the creative process of developing their own research questions, hypotheses, and investigations. Once produced an evaluated, these research activities will be made available to instructors across the world on the Paleobiology Database website, which will also encourage educators to create and post their own activities as well.

Author Biography

Mark D. Uhen, George Mason University

Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences

Associate Professor





4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group A- 4:15-4:45pm)