Undergraduate Research: Why and How Do We Mentor?


Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research Journal

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  • Vignette

    Quantifying Equity in the American Theater: Student Research at the Intersection of Performance and Data Analysis

    ‐ Sharon Green
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/7

    Dramatic literature courses in the undergraduate theater curriculum traditionally include the study of plays: their structure and themes. In a course titled Contemporary Female Playwrights at Davidson College, the learning goals go beyond script analysis and include strategies for documenting and redressing the underrepresentation of female and BIPOC playwrights in American theater.

  • Article

    Building Research Skills through an Undergraduate Research Project on Local Community

    ‐ Praopan Pratoomchat and Rubana Mahjabeen
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/10

    This research aims to build economic research skills and stimulate students’ interest in the local economy through data-based undergraduate research in entry-level economics courses. The authors developed two assignments and one student survey assessing students’ learning outcomes and implemented them in two introductory-level classes from fall 2019 to fall 2021. The survey responses confirmed that the assignments positively affected students’ primary research skills and increased students’ interest in local economic issues. The study also provides empirical evidence that undergraduate research can be carried out in both face-to-face and online classes. It confirms the positive contribution of exposing students to the research culture early in their academic journey by improving students’ skills in collecting, processing, and interpreting data on the local economy.

  • Article

    Fulfilling the Land-Grant Mission in Undergraduate Research in English Studies

    ‐ Joyce Kinkead
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/9

    The pandemic provided a natural experiment to test an alternative approach to teaching a traditional classroom-based research methods course; as teachers, we should not wait for such interventions but try out various strategies for effectiveness. Remote mentoring is entirely feasible for successful undergraduate research experiences. This is a particularly crucial finding in the humanities, which relies very much on discussion-based formats rather than lectures for its courses. Faculty have learned new technologies, such as Zoom, to ensure that meaningful interactions would occur.

  • Article

    Making Research Accessible for All through a Fully Online Cancer Genomics CURE

    ‐ Irene K. Guttilla Reed
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/11

    Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) can engage large numbers of students and provide a structured environment in which to learn valuable research skills. The ability to implement laboratory-based CUREs was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, generating a greater need for online options. A pilot study of an adaptation of a fully online cancer genomics CURE is described here. Students utilized freely available databases such as cBioPortal to develop novel scientific questions, generate and analyze data, collaborate with peers, and present their findings in an online environment. This format preserved the defining aspects of CUREs while promoting student ownership over their projects. Although the most common challenge was developing a hypothesis, students valued peer and instructor feedback throughout the process as well as flexible formats for communicating their research findings.

  • Article

    Laboratory-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (LUREs):  Evidence of Effectiveness from the Social Sciences

    ‐ Alissa Ruth, Alexandra Brewis, Melissa Beresford, Michael E. Smith, Christopher Stojanowski, Cindi SturtzSreetharan, and Amber Wutich
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/3

    The impact of undergraduate research experiences (UREs) is supported by evidence from physical and life science fields, especially when student-apprentices work in traditional laboratories. Within social sciences specifically, some excellent student outcomes associated with UREs adhere to non–lab-based modalities like course-based research experiences (CUREs). Here, the authors evaluate the laboratory-based undergraduate research experiences (LUREs) as a potentially valuable approach for incorporating social science undergraduates in research. Using comparative analysis of survey data from students completing three types of social science-based UREs (n = 235), individual research experiences (IREs), CUREs, or LUREs, students perceived gains overall regardless of the type of experience, with some indication that LUREs are the most effective.

  • Open-to-Read

    SUREbyts: Presenting Early-Year Undergraduate Students with Videos on Research Topics

    ‐ Ciarán O’Leary, Gordon Cooke, Julie Dunne, Barry Ryan, Carla Surlis, Matt Smith, Emma Caraher, Claire Lennon, Evelyn Landers, Eileen O’Leary, Geraldine Dowling, Margaret McCallig, Anne Marie O’Brien, Josephine Treacy, and Valerie McCarthy
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/1

    Undergraduate research initiatives such as mentoring programs, conferences, and journals typically focus on the later stages of undergraduate studies. It is not unusual for a student to reach the final year of their program without developing their awareness of research within their discipline or their institution. SUREbyts is a project that provides first- and second-year undergraduate students with access to research through video recordings of professional researchers and research students discussing their own research, with each video structured around a research question with a set of possible solutions. This article presents the successes and challenges faced by the project’s initial implementation in six higher education institutions in Ireland and offers advice to institutions globally that are considering engaging their students with research in this way.

    Embedding research into the undergraduate curriculum has been shown to be a highly impactful pedagogical…
  • Perspectives / Reviews

    Systematic Review of Outcomes for Faculty Mentors in Undergraduate Research

    ‐ Carinna F. Ferguson
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/5

    Significant research has highlighted the benefits and outcomes of mentored research experiences for undergraduate students. Substantially less empirical research has examined the benefits and outcomes of these experiences for the other member of the mentoring dyad: the mentors themselves. To address this gap, a systematic review of 1,915 articles was conducted. After review, 16 articles were determined relevant. Articles were categorized based on design and theoretical framework. Further analysis revealed three categorizations: faculty mentor outcomes, barriers to mentorship of undergraduate research students, and supporting factors associated with mentorship of students. Results indicate that faculty mentors in undergraduate research contexts face more barriers to mentorship than supporting factors. Three lines of inquiry are proposed for future researchers.

  • Open-to-Read

    Venturing into Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide to Getting Started

    ‐ Mariel A. Pfeifer and Erin L. Dolan
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/2

    In this commentary, we offer an introduction to qualitative research. Our goal is to provide guidance so that others can avoid common missteps and benefit from our lessons learned. We explain what qualitative data and research are, the value of qualitative research, and features that make qualitative research excellent, as well as how qualitative data can be collected and used to study undergraduate research. Our advice and recommendations are targeted at researchers who, like us, were first trained in fields with tendencies to overlook or underestimate qualitative research and its contributions. We share examples from our own and others’ research related to undergraduate research settings. We provide a table of resources researchers may find useful as they continue to learn about and conduct qualitative studies.

    Introduction We both started our scholarly journeys as biologists. As we trained, we both grew…
  • Editorial

    Step Up for SPUR

    ‐ Lisa Gates
    SPUR (2023) 7 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/7/1/8

    This editorial details observations from a departing associate editor of SPUR about the experience of working on the journal. The author contextualizes this work within the academic journal editorial process, focusing on specific challenges in recruiting reviewers for the peer review process. The author stresses the importance of broad participation from the undergraduate research community, including submitting articles to SPUR, accepting requests to review manuscripts, and participating in the editorial board, all to ensure the sustainability and intellectual vitality of the journal.

The fall issue covers a wide range of emerging and engaging topics in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry (URSCI).


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.