Adapting to Change: Studying Undergraduate Research in the Current Education Environment


Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research Journal

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  • Practice

    Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Course-Load Banking System to Support Faculty-Mentored Student Research

    ‐ Christopher S. Kim, Anna Leahy, Lisa Kendrick
    SPUR (2017) 1 (1):

    Faculty participation in mentoring undergraduate research can be limited by the time demands involved and the relatively low compensation typically offered at most institutions. The system designed by Chapman University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (OURCA) facilitates independent research by undergraduate students who wish to receive academic credit and awards teaching credit to faculty members who mentor this research. This faculty-student research banking (FSRB) program counts student research credits toward faculty teaching loads, allowing 24 credits to be exchanged for a one-course reduced teaching load in a future academic term. The financial and structural parameters of the FSRB program and data from the first three years of its operation are provided, including guidelines developed and lessons learned, which may assist other institutions in applying and creating similar systems.

  • Article

    Making Inquiry Learning Our Top Priority: Why We Must and How We Can

    ‐ Carol Geary Schneider
    SPUR (2017) 1 (1):

    The liberal arts of evidence-based inquiry are necessities for knowledgeable participation in a self-governing democracy and equally important in an innovation-dependent economy. Higher education’s role in fostering these capacities has always been one of its most important contributions to the greater good. The current political environment calls for a new sense of urgency about preparing graduates to apply evidence-based reasoning to complex questions and competing claims. Yet a new study of students’ course-based assignments suggests that large numbers of college seniors are leaving college with a very weak grasp of how to use evidence or build a well-supported argument. Calling on educators to make the shift from “my course” to new intentionality about “our curriculum,” the author provides practical suggestions for fostering the skills foundational to inquiry learning from first to final year.

  • Editorial

    Welcome to the Inaugural Issue of SPUR

    ‐ James LaPlant
    SPUR (2017) 1 (1):

    On behalf of the SPUR Editorial Board as well as the Council on Undergraduate Research, we are very excited to share with our readers the inaugural issue of the Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research. SPUR, the acronym for the new title of the journal, captures the powerful action of undergraduate research to encourage, stimulate, hasten, and prompt. Our hope is that SPUR will encourage best practices and models of undergraduate research. Another goal for SPUR is to stimulate the rigorous assessment of undergraduate research initiatives and programs. We also hope to hasten the spread of undergraduate research at colleges and universities across the globe. With the rising competition and growing challenges for funding higher education, our wish for SPUR is to prompt important theoretical discussions about undergraduate research and the future of higher education in the twenty-first century.

  • Assessment

    An Analysis of Funding for the NSF REU Site Program in Biology from 1987 to 2014

    ‐ Christopher C. Barney
    SPUR (2017) 1 (1):

    Using data available at the NSF Search Awards site, Biology REU Site awards made from 1987 to 2014 were analyzed. During this time, there was an average of 30.8 new REU Site awards per year with an average duration of three years. Total funding for Biology REU Site awards increased for each four-year period analyzed since 1995–1998 in actual dollars but has not increased substantially in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2003–2006. Average award funding in inflation-adjusted dollars increased from 1987–1990 to 2003–2006, which reflects the increased duration of awards, and then declined slightly for the 2007–2010 and 2011–2014 periods. Awards have been made to institutions in every state except Wyoming as well as to institutions in Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The total Biology REU Site funding per state/location is highly correlated with the state/location population. Awards have been made to 257 institutions and to 480 principal investigators (PIs). Many institutions (33.8 percent) and PIs (56.7 percent) have had only one Biology REU Site award, whereas 10.5 percent of the institutions and 0.4 percent of the PIs have had eight or more awards. Doctoral institutions had the largest percentage of awards (65.5 percent), followed by research institutes, master’s institutions, bachelor’s institutions, medical institutions, associate’s institutions, and tribal colleges. From the 1987–1990 to the 2011–2014 analysis periods, the percentage of awards made to master’s institutions increased from 9.6 percent to 15.3 percent, and the percentage of awards made to bachelor’s institutions decreased from 13.3 percent to 2.1 percent.


SPUR advances knowledge and understanding of novel and effective approaches to mentored undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry by publishing high-quality, rigorously peer reviewed studies written by scholars and practitioners of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry. The SPUR Journal is a leading CUR member benefit. Gain access to all electronic articles by joining CUR.