More Articles in this Issue
- Assessment‐ Kendra D. Stiwich, Victoria Ross
SPUR (2022) 5 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/4/5 Abstract:
Many postsecondary institutions host a knowledge dissemination event for students to publicly share their scholarly, research, and creative works. These events improve student communication skills and self-efficacy. The authors propose that these events also can affect students’ sense of belonging. CREATE is Vancouver Island University’s all-discipline student knowledge dissemination event. During the 2020–2021 academic year, seven specific tactics were employed to increase a sense of belonging at CREATE. A post-event survey indicated that overall students had a strong sense of belonging, and underserved students felt more able to be themselves at CREATE then in their day-to-day lives. Further, qualitative responses showed evidence that most tactics were beneficial. Taken in concert, these tactics give event organizers an applied model for increasing students’ sense of belonging at their events.
- Open-to-Read‐ Paula Paula Croonquist, Virginia Falkenberg, Natalie Minkovsky, Alexa Sawa, Matthew Skerritt, Maire Sustacek , Raffaella Diotti, Anthony Aragon, Tamara Mans, Goldie Sherr, Catherine Ward, Monica Hall-Woods, Anya Goodman, Laura Reed, David Lopatto
SPUR (2023) 6 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/3/1 Abstract:
The Genomics Education Partnership (GEP), a consortium of diverse colleges and universities, provides support for integrating genomics research into undergraduate curricula. To increase research opportunities for underrepresented students, GEP is expanding to more community colleges (CC). Genomics research, requiring only a computer with Internet access, may be particularly accessible for two-year institutions with limited research capacity and significant budget constraints. To understand how GEP supports student research at CCs, the authors analyzed student knowledge and self-reported outcomes. It was found that CC student gains were comparable to non-CC student gains, with improvements in attitudes toward science and thriving in science. The early findings suggest that the GEP model of centralized support with flexible implementation of a course-related undergraduate research experience benefits CC students and
may help mitigate barriers to implementing research at CCs.
- Assessment‐ Lynn Gilbertson, Jeannine Rowe, Yeongmin Kim, Catherine W. M. Chan, Naomi Schemm, and Michael Unhoch
SPUR (2021) 4 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/4/4 Abstract:
This article describes a multidisciplinary, asynchronous, 10-hour online training program for undergraduates enrolled in a mentored research apprentice program, addressing communication skills, knowledge of the research process, information literacy, and research ethics. A pretest-posttest survey was completed to assess students’ perceived gains (n = 130) in knowledge and skills. A survey was also administered to faculty mentors (n = 50) to assess observations regarding students’ gains. Results revealed significant perceived gains in all four content areas (p < 0.001) with no significant differences across disciplines. The findings suggest that the training content and format were successful in providing participants with foundational research knowledge and skills. Mentors’ observations support the student findings and identify gains in discipline-specific skills. Implications for undergraduate research programs are discussed.
- Article‐ Carol Geary Schneider
SPUR (2017) 1 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/1/10 Abstract:
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.
- Assessment‐ Karen M. Travis and Priscilla Cooke St. Clair
SPUR (2018) 2 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/2/7 Abstract:
Many undergraduate research capstones require research papers that include a literature review. This study assessed whether modifications made to teaching of a literature review resulted in significant changes to quantified measures of assessment. Literature reviews in the final economics capstone research papers of 212 students from the 2005–2016 period were examined. Results showed that a mandatory graded requirement of incorporating a summary first paragraph was significantly more effective than recommending that students write this paragraph. There was a statistically significant increase associated with both the number of references and total number of paragraphs with a minimum of two scholarly citations. Results demonstrated the general effectiveness of continuous updating of assignments and activities based on student feedback and instructor experience.
- ‐ Mindy Capaldi, Kristi Bugajski, Bonnie Dahlke Goebbert, Michael Watters, and Michael Slattery
SPUR (2022) 6 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/1/1 Abstract:
Student retention is important to any university, especially keeping commuter students who are traditionally less anchored in campus life. Even more at risk, given the leaky STEM pipeline, are STEM commuter students. In 2016, Valparaiso University launched the Establishing Practices Integrating Commuter Students (EPIC) program, centered around engaging students in undergraduate research. Students participate in a research laboratory for their four academic years, and take part in one summer of funded research. This program has achieved its goal of providing scholarships, research opportunities, and cohort support to over 30 commuter and residential students while preparing them for research-oriented careers. This article shares successes and lessons learned, along with data demonstrating the program’s impact on broadening participation in STEM and increasing retention.
- Practice‐ Nicholas Rowland, Jeffrey A. Knapp, and Hailley Fargo
SPUR (2019) 2 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/3/6 Abstract:
The ability of undergraduate students to write for scholarly audiences is contingent upon their capacity to recognize that scholarship is a kind of conversation. For a student, writing an academic book review is a near ideal yet generally underutilized opportunity to learn this lesson. Through analysis of previously published book reviews coproduced with students, the authors identify actionable practices to transform the process of writing book reviews from an undervalued, lone activity into a viable form of undergraduate research. Publishing coauthored book reviews may aid students seeking admission to graduate school and faculty seeking promotion. In the end, writing book reviews with students is an opportunity for faculty and librarians to pass along the important lesson that scholarship is an important, inclusive conversation.
Academic and Professional Preparedness: Outcomes of Undergraduate Research in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences‐ Kelly Kistner, Erin M. Sparck, Amy Liu, Hannah Whang Sayson, Marc Levis-Fitzgerald, and Whitney Arnold
SPUR (2021) 4 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/4/1 Abstract:
As many studies on undergraduate research outcomes are focused on STEM fields, the widely variable experiences in the humanities, arts, and social sciences are less known and harder to study. This article assesses outcomes among students who pursued faculty-mentored research in those fields and concurrently participated in programs administered through UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Center for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (URC-HASS). As program participants receive support to help counter balance discrepancies across departments and mentors, they also form a distinct sample group useful for statistical analysis. Compared to a quasi-control group of nonresearch students, the research students reported statistically significant better outcomes on average in attaining several of the skills sought by today’s employers, thus demonstrating the potential benefits of undergraduate research in these disciplines.
- Practice‐ Noelani Puniwai-Ganoot, Sharon Ziegler-Chong, Rebecca Ostertag, and Moana Ulu Ching
SPUR (2018) 1 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/4/11 Abstract:
The Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) link undergraduates to environmental careers and mentor the next generation of scientists, educators, and managers for Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. PIPES uses formal and informal educational frameworks to deepen a sense of kuleana (responsibility) and provide opportunities for engagement in research and conservation practices in a higher education setting. Each summer, 30 to 40 students participate in an intensive, full-time, paid internship program for 10 weeks; 580 undergraduates have completed the program to date. These immersive experiences in science, natural resource management, environmental education, and Hawaiian values help ground interns in the intent of their daily work and provide rich opportunities to develop a deep connection to field sites and organizations.
Academic and Educational Opportunities Provided by the Undergraduate Research in Natural and Clinical Science and Technology (URNCST) Journal‐ Neethu Pavithran, Redwan Haque, Neha Dhanvanthry, Ankush Sharma, Arjun Singh, Chun Ju Liang, Radha Sharma, Stephanie Nagy, Harrison Nelson, Soumya Shastri, Saameh A. Siddique, Vedish Soni, Chitrini Tandon, Molly H .R. Cowls, Alessandra Cutrone, Ayomide Fakuade, Varnikaa Gupta, Halton Quach, Jessica B. Saini, and Jeremy Y. Ng
SPUR (2022) 6 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/1/2 Abstract:
The Undergraduate Research in Natural and Clinical Science and Technology (URNCST) Journal was founded in 2017 and currently serves as a leading publisher of undergraduate research spanning broad and multidisciplinary fields. Unique to most undergraduate journals, the URNCST Journal publishes abstracts for undergraduate conferences and case competitions and promotes innovative undergraduate research education initiatives. The present article summarizes the contributions, opportunities, and achievements of the journal since its inception.
- Perspectives / Reviews‐ Nicholas Grindle, Stefanie Anyadi, Amanda Cain, Alastair McClelland, Paul Northrop, Rebecca Payne, and Sara Wingate Gray
SPUR (2021) 5 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/1/12 Abstract:
In recent years, advocates for research-based education have publicized many examples of passive research involvement, defined as undergraduates learning about the content and lived experience of research at their institution. But the qualitative dimensions of passive research involvement remain unknown. The authors’ study uses Diana Laurillard’s “conversational framework” to analyze reports from 367 undergraduate students at a UK research intensive university who met researchers and learned about their work. The results show a range of experiences in student learning about faculty research. These findings make the case that passive research involvement has its own integrity and cannot be characterized as an absence of participation. The authors suggest ways that the students as audience category can enhance undergraduate connections with research
- Assessment‐ Jonathan C. Whittinghill, Simeon P. Slovacek, Laura P. Flenbury, and Vivian Miu
SPUR (2019) 3 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/1/3 Abstract:
The programs Minority Access in Research Careers (MARC) and Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) are funded by the National Institutes of Health to increase the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds earning degrees in the biomedical sciences. This article estimates the impact of participation in MARC and RISE on grade point averages, degree completion, and entrance into biomedical PhD programs. Supported students graduated at higher rates, had higher grade-point averages at graduation, and entered biomedical doctoral programs at much higher rates than students in a propensity score–matched comparison group. Results are comparable with previous study results of similar programs at other institutions and provide further evidence of the valuable support these programs provide to students from underrepresented backgrounds in achieving success in the biomedical sciences.
- Assessment‐ Christopher C. Barney
SPUR (2017) 1 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/1/1 Abstract:
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.
- Assessment‐ Dominique M. Galli and Rafael Bahamonde
SPUR (2018) 1 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/4/10 Abstract:
Launched in 1997, the Diversity Scholars Research Program (DSRP) is an undergraduate performance-based scholarship program that aims to attract academically talented, underrepresented minority (URM) students to the IUPUI campus. The program provides financial assistance (tuition, academic stipend, conference travel, and some housing), mentoring, professional development, and research support for up to four years. As of summer 2017, 65 percent of scholars in good standing have graduated from IUPUI. Four-year graduation rates of DSRP scholars were more than double the average graduation rates for URM students with comparable GPAs at admission. New initiatives have been implemented that include changes to the admission and selection process, additional support to first-year students, and improvement of communication between all stakeholders.
- ‐ Susan G. Mendoza and Dave A. Louis
SPUR (2018) 1 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/4/7 Abstract:
The authors reflect on their work in designing, executing, and evaluating undergraduate research experiences (UREs) that serve students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students. They assert that additional support is needed to prepare students as their cultures and identities intersect with their disciplinary learning and the historical context of the academy. The authors discuss the meaning of scholarly voice, the influence of minoritized cultures on that voice, the integration of their scholarly voice within the discipline, elements of programmatic design that intentionally create space, and experiences that promote a reflective scholarly journey for students. By infusing these elements into the faculty repertoire when mentoring students in UREs and into the framework and culture of UREs, students will be able to actively engage in graduate education from a place of integration and resiliency
- Practice‐ Laura A. Lukes, Katherine Ryker, Camerian Millsaps, Rowan Lockwood, Mark D. Uhen, Christian George, Callan Bentley, and Peter Berquist
SPUR (2019) 2 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/4/6 Abstract:
Undergraduates who participate in research experiences are more likely to persist as majors and pursue careers in STEM fields. Traditional undergraduate research experiences often involve field or lab work, which can be costly or have participation barriers for some students. Large, publicly available online datasets provide an alternative. This article provides a case study of how one such large database, the Paleobiology Database (PBDB), has been leveraged in two ways to support the engagement of students in undergraduate research experiences. First, the authors report on inquiry-based PBDB activities embedded within introductory science courses and participating students’ perceptions about research and interest in research (n = 264). Second, they report how the PBDB has been used to support independent research experiences across 19 institutions and share implications.
- Assessment‐ Andrea J. Sell, Angela Naginey, and Cathy Alexander Stanton
SPUR (2018) 1 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/3/8 Abstract:
This article assesses the accuracy of the assumption that undergraduate research leads to better student outcomes. In particular, it examines whether research involvement by undergraduates predicts subsequent academic success, as measured by grade point average (GPA). Consistent with predictions, results from a series of multiple regression analyses demonstrate that research involvement is associated with higher undergraduate GPA. This effect holds true even when controlling for numerous factors likely to affect both college GPA and the decision to become involved in research (e.g., high school GPA, the number of yearsin college, and parental college attendance). Additional analyses examine whether the timing of participation in research during a student’s college career influences their GPA. Implications for staff and faculty who oversee and promote undergraduate research are discussed
Course-Based Research: A Vehicle for Broadening Access to Undergraduate Research in the Twenty-First Century‐ Prajukti Bhattacharyya, Catherine W. M. Chan, Rocio R. Duchesne, Aditi Ghosh, Steven N. Girard, and Jonah J. Ralston
SPUR (2020) 3 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/3/7 Abstract:
The traditional model of undergraduate research is less effective for engaging students who have little or no previous exposure to research, are unfamiliar with available research opportunities, or face financial or time constraints that prevent them from engaging in co- or extracurricular activities. Given today’s changing student demographics, models such as course-embedded research need to be explored so that undergraduate research participation may be broadened across disciplines. This article describes how a community of practitioners was created to infuse research in courses at both two- and four-year campuses, with four examples of courses with embedded research activities. Discussed are strategies for implementing discipline-specific research activities at all levels of the undergraduate curriculum to expose a broader student population to the benefits of mentored research.
- Assessment‐ Andrea Wilcox Brooks, Jane Hammons, Joseph Nolan, Sally Dufek, and Morgan Wynn
SPUR (2019) 3 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/1/7 Abstract:
This research study examines how undergraduate researchers conceptualize the purpose of research. Researchers distributed surveys to students who participated in a campus-wide research symposium to learn about student perceptions of research. The findings suggest that students recognize the importance of sharing scholarship and view research as a way to enhance their learning. Findings also indicate some disciplinary differences in the way students understand research and that perceptions of research may evolve as students advance through their academic careers.
A Model Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Engage and Mentor Underrepresented Minority Students in Lived Arctic and Climate Science Research Experiences‐ Arnell Garrett, Frances D. Carter-Johnson, Susan M. Natali, John D. Schade, and Robert Max Holmes
SPUR (2021) 5 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/1/4 Abstract:
The Polaris Project, a National Science Foundation–funded program at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, aims to comprehensively address minority participation in climate and Arctic science research. The project implemented design principles to recruit, motivate, and retain African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans or Alaskan Natives, and women through immersive, field research experiences. The project included undergraduate and graduate students from environmental science, ecology, hydrology, biology, forestry, and geology. Ninety-five percent of participants identified as African American, Hispanic, Native American or Alaskan Native, and/or female. Critical participant outcomes included development of interdisciplinary research projects, involvement in self-efficacy and advocacy experiences, and increased awareness and discussion of Arctic research careers. All outcomes contributed to the Polaris Project’s role as a model climate science research program.
- Assessment‐ Heather Haeger, John E. Banks, Camille Smith, and Monique Armstrong-Land
SPUR (2020) 3 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/4/4 Abstract:
To assess what questions are already answered and what still needs to be discovered about the high-impact practice of undergraduate research (UR), the authors conducted a mixed-methods study, including a systematic analysis of literature that assessed the impact of UR, and interviewed faculty and administrators actively engaged in UR. Findings demonstrated that most studies on UR have focused on STEM fields and student outcomes. Fewer studies have examined other disciplines or other outcomes such as the impact of UR on faculty or institution. Despite ample research that demonstrates outcomes associated with UR, more work is needed to establish a causal relationship between UR and these outcomes, to diversify the topics and scope of scholarship on UR, and to demonstrate the far-ranging impacts of UR.
Surveying Faculty Perspectives on Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity: A Three-Institution Study‐ Janet A. Morrison, Nancy J. Berner, Jill M. Manske, Rebecca M. Jones, Shannon N. Davis, and Pamela W. Garner
SPUR (2018) 2 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/1/1 Abstract:
The authors surveyed faculty (n = 239) at three diverse institutions to probe perceived motivations for and barriers to involvement in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity (URSCA) across scholarly disciplines. URSCA mentors were significantly more likely than nonparticipants to express proficiency in involving students in their research/creative activities, to acknowledge student contributions to their scholarly work, and to state that URSCA mentoring should be considered in personnel decisions. More than half perceived that their institutions did not place sufficient value on mentoring URSCA. Results suggested that institutional URSCA cultures could be enhanced by building mentoring into faculty workload, tenure materials, and promotion documents; using early, course-based research to improve student readiness; providing faculty development on research mentoring aimed at underrepresented disciplines; and seeking novel funding sources targeted at faculty-mentored URSCA.
- Open-to-Read‐ Elizabeth Eich, Daniel J. Catanese Jr., Brian King, Margaret E. Beirer
SPUR (2022) 6 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/2/3 Abstract:
Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are increasingly popular, but less often implemented in core laboratory courses due to the strict learning objectives necessary for follow-on courses. A curricular core intermediate-level experimental biosciences laboratory course was implemented, which paired competency-based assignments with client-serving research projects to develop the prerequisite skills for upper-level courses in the context of authentic research. This CURE led to more favorable student outcomes and more positive perceptions than the previous course design. This approach was piloted at a private, research-intensive university in fall 2015 and scaled to full implementation the following year. Several considerations and the necessary resources for such a scaling are discussed.
- Assessment‐ Francisca Beer, Christine M. Hassija, Arturo Covarrubias-Paniagua, and Jeffrey M. Thompson
SPUR (2019) 2 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/3/4 Abstract:
The authors discuss their study of the Peer Research Consultant (PRC) program at California State University, San Bernardino. During the 2016–2017 academic year, 13 courses, with 853 students enrolled, participated in the PRC program. Program participants completed pre and post-measures assessing demographic information, perceptions of skill level, and perceived gains following program participation. Students who participated in the PRC program showed an increase in overall course grades (M = 3.11) compared to those who did not (M = 2.82; p < 0.05). Similar findings were observed among under-represented minority (URM) students who participated (M = 3.05) and those who did not (M = 2.73, p < 0.05). Program participants reported high satisfaction with the program and improved confidence in skills
Creative, Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research: An Educational Cell Biology Video Game Designed by Students for Students‐ Isabelle Sperano, Ross Shaw, Robert Andruchow, Dana Cobzas, Cory Efird, Brian Brookwell, and William Deng
SPUR (2020) 4 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/2/7 Abstract:
In a three-year, practice-based, creative research project, the team designed a video game for undergraduate biology students that aimed to find the right balance between educational content and entertainment. The project involved 7 faculty members and 14 undergraduate students from biological science, design, computer science, and music. This nontraditional approach to research was attractive to students. Working on an interdisciplinary practice-based research project required strategies related to timeline, recruitment, funding, team management, and mentoring. Although this project was time-consuming and full of challenges, it created meaningful learning experiences not only for students but also for faculty members.
- Practice‐ Susan Rundell Singer
SPUR (2019) 3 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/2/7 Abstract:
For 60 years, the National Science Foundation’s commitment to undergraduate research experiences has shaped the course of undergraduate research opportunities, from apprenticeship model–based experiences to team-based and classroom-based collaborations for a diverse group of students. Scaling the opportunity so that students may participate in an equitable and inclusive way has been a priority since the inception of the program. Applying the growing research base in undergraduate science, engineering, and mathematics education to development of optimal research experiences for undergraduates is the next frontier.
Institution-Wide Analysis of Academic Outcomes Associated with Participation in UGR: Comparison of Different Research Modalities at a Hispanic-Serving Institution‐ Samantha Jude Battaglia, Lourdes E. Echegoyen, Laura A. Diaz-Martinez
SPUR (2022) 5 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/3/9 Abstract:
Most studies on the benefits of participation in undergraduate research (UGR) use data from student participants in undergraduate research programs (URPs), which offer a limited number of positions. In reality, however, the majority of UGR students participate in undergraduate research not in programs (URNPs). The authors conducted an institution-wide study at a Hispanic serving institution to examine the relationship between academic success and participation in these two UGR modalities. Although there were some differences between URPs and URNPs, participation in research at this institution was largely equitable and inclusive, with UGR demographics that reflected those of the institution, and it was positively associated with increased benefits along multiple academic metrics, regardless of UGR modality. Importantly, these increases were observed for both first time in college and transfer students.
- Practice‐ Eric C. Freundt and Kimberly R. Schneider
SPUR (2019) 2 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/3/3 Abstract:
The Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) is an annual multidisciplinary conference that enables student scholars to present their research, network with other students, and attend professional development seminars. FURC has been held since 2011 and has featured more than 2,100 student presentations with participation from a broad array of institutions within the state. Survey data indicate that FURC is the first conference presentation for the majority of participants and that participation in the conference is associated with several positive outcomes. This article describes the history, structure, and planning of the conference and as well provides survey and outcome data that may assist other states and geographic areas as they consider forming their own conferences.
The Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY): Twenty Years of Exceptional Success Supporting Undergraduate Research and Inclusive Excellence‐ George C. Shields
SPUR (2019) 3 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/2/1 Abstract:
The author discusses the history of the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY), which has made significant contributions benefiting science faculty and undergraduates. The peer review publication rate of 1.7 for MERCURY faculty is 3.4 times the average rate for physical science faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions. Since 2001, 888 students have worked on research projects; 75 percent of them have come from underrepresented populations, such as female students or students of color. Approximately half of all graduates have pursued advanced degrees in STEM fields; two-thirds of this group have been female and/or students of color. More than 1,600 people have attended the 18 MERCURY conferences that have hosted 111 speakers, including 61 who were faculty members of color or female.
- Perspectives / Reviews
The Kungullanji Program: Creating an Undergraduate Research Experience to Raise Aspirations of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students in the Sciences‐ Jennifer Leigh Campbell and Shushila Chang
SPUR (2021) 4 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/3/17 Abstract:
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face complex challenges that require Indigenous-led research. Increasing the Indigenous research workforce depends on structural change within higher education institutions, including better pathways to research training and careers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Undergraduate research experiences can improve student success and encourage more students to progress to research programs and careers. The Kungullanji Summer Research Program offers research experiences for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduates while recognizing their contributions to research. The Kungullanji program approach is a strengths-based research training framework that recognizes existing ability outside of institutional definitions of success and adapts to student needs with multi-layered support. The initial results suggest that this approach increases students’ self-confidence and interest in conducting research.
- Practice‐ Heather E. Dillon
SPUR (2020) 3 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/4/7 Abstract:
Undergraduate research has been shown to provide numerous benefits to students. In recent years an effort to scale the experience has led to development of course-based undergraduate research that often focuses on data collection or analysis. This article describes the design of a mentoring course-based undergraduate research experience (M-CURE) that focuses on the publication and career growth aspects of the research experience. A survey of students who completed the course indicated that they appreciated both the publication and mentoring facets of the course. The first three cohorts of the M-CURE course have resulted in 83 percent of students with a viable paper for publication. Eighty-one percent of the students indicated that they were extremely or somewhat likely to attend graduate programs in the next five years.
- Assessment‐ David Lopatto
SPUR (2017) 1 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/1/7 Abstract:
Given that science and science education are undergoing a climate change, the author suggests a re-envisioning of undergraduate research assessment. He argues that continuation of research into the processes and benefits of undergraduate research opportunities for undergraduates will need to decrease focus on student dispositions and increase attention to the external validity of programs. Common dispositional terms such as persistence and identity should give way to the study of student decision making, judgment, and communication. Student adaptability to diverse academic and personal pressures will aid in the understanding of student success.
- Assessment‐ Rachel Hayes-Harb, Mark St. Andre, and Megan Shannahan
SPUR (2020) 3 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/4/10 Abstract:
The authors have developed a set of undergraduate research learning outcomes that address the traditions of research and mentoring across campus. Achievement of these outcomes is assessed at annual, institution-wide, undergraduate research events by employing a poster presentation evaluation rubric and deploying graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty as ad hoc raters. Between April 2018 and April 2019, 2,721 rubrics evaluating 803 undergraduate research posters by 436 raters were collected. Students participating in the one-semester funded and mentored undergraduate research program performed significantly higher on all four quantified learning outcomes than did nonparticipants. It was further found that disciplines exhibited different profiles of relative strength and weakness with respect to the various learning outcomes. Together, these findings inform future programmatic decision-making at the institution.
Transforming the STEM Learning Experience: Minority Students’ Agency in Shaping Their Own Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research‐ Shearon Roberts and Ross Louis
SPUR (2018) 2 (2): https://doi.org/10.1833/spur/2/2/6 Abstract:
This study explores how African American STEM students pursued research experiences outside of STEM disciplines, drawing on nine years of data from the undergraduate research journal XULAneXUS at the STEM-focused, historically black institution Xavier University of Louisiana. Findings indicate that a successful STEM education for black students benefits from non-STEM research mentorship that supports and reinforces minority students’ commitment to STEM careers. Data show that STEM students engaged in non-STEM research to help them study and explain phenomena, revealing significance in the agency of STEM students to broaden the scope of their STEM education at a STEM-focused institution.
- Practice‐ Kimberly J. McClure-Brenchley, Kristin Picardo, and Julia Overton-Healy
SPUR (2020) 3 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/3/10 Abstract:
Learning outcomes can structure and enhance the undergraduate research experience, building skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and team-work/collaboration. These skills often correspond to what employers desire in their recruitment of recent college graduates: students possess career competencies that result from undergraduate research and prepare them for the workforce. However, students do not necessarily recognize the value of undergraduate research for workforce preparation, recognize how their research experience has prepared them, and/or are unable to fully articulate their preparedness. The authors discuss the value of integrating learning outcomes across the college experience to enhance undergraduate research and career readiness. They detail the implementation of an integrated model within a primarily undergraduate institution and suggest strategies to best leverage undergraduate research for workforce preparation.
- Editorial‐ Patricia Ann Mabrouk
SPUR (2022) 6 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/1/4
Contributions Made by Undergraduates to Research Projects: Using the CREDIT Taxonomy to Assess Undergraduate Research Experiences‐ Matt Honoré, Thomas E. Keller, Jen Lindwall, Rachel Crist, Leslie Bienen, and Adrienne Zell
SPUR (2020) 4 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/1/3 Abstract:
The authors developed a novel tool, the CREDIT URE,to define and measure roles performed by undergraduate students working in research placements. Derived
from an open-source taxonomy for determining authorship credit, the CREDIT URE defines 14 possible roles, allowing students and their research mentors to rate the degree to which students participate in each role. The tool was administered longitudinally across three cohorts of undergraduate student-mentor pairs involved in a biomedical research training program for students from diverse backgrounds. Students engaged most frequently in roles involving data curation, investigation, and writing. Less frequently, students engaged in roles related to software development, supervision, and funding acquisition. Students’ roles changed over time as they gained experience. Agreement between students and mentors about responsibility for roles was high.
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): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/1/8 Abstract:
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.
- Practice‐ Lisa Bosman and Kelli Chelberg
SPUR (2021) 5 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/2/1 Abstract:
In an attempt to overcome barriers faced by engineering students, a strengths-based approach to an Introduction to Engineering course was developed and deployed at a minority-serving institution in the US Midwest. This course-based research experience provided an environment that allowed students to learn about various engineering disciplines and improve their communication skills while engaging in a constructivist-grounded process. Students were asked to construct their knowledge and make meaning of the engineering disciplines through the creation of a children’s book that introduced young readers to engineering. Although book creation in an engineering course may seem unconventional to many, this course produced students with sound communication skills and a fundamental understanding of engineering that has laid the foundation for their academic careers.
Business in a Liberal Arts College: Undergraduate Research Experiences That Cultivate Habits of the Heart and Mind‐ Vicki L. Baker and John Carlson
SPUR (2018) 2 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/2/3 Abstract:
The authors discuss a course-based undergraduate research (UR) experience in business, seeking to continue a conversation initiated by Miller and DeLoach (2016) regarding undergraduate research in professional fields. The current state of liberal arts colleges and business education is described, as are the three modes of thinking developed by students during their UR participation. The authors also discuss lessons learned and provide insights into the components needed to support a course-based UR experience in other settings.
- ‐ Jenny Olin Shanahan, Jeanne Carey Ingle, Jing Tan, Thayaparan Paramanathan, and Kenneth W. Adams
SPUR (2021) 5 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/2/5 Abstract:
Bridgewater State University moved undergraduate research (UR) programs online in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few months later, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the university’s racial justice reckonings and recommitments, and the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on Black and Brown communities guided the reexamination of UR policies and practices. Compelling results of mixed-methods research with faculty mentors and student researchers also motivated this work. The authors recommend seven principles for leading UR programs during the mutually reinforcing crises of the pandemic, racism, partisan division, and economic austerity.
Teaching Computational Social Science Skills to Psychology Students: An Undergraduate Research Lab Case Study‐ Brian A. Eiler, Patrick C. Doyle, Rosemary L. Al-Kire, and Heidi A. Wayment
SPUR (2020) 4 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/1/5 Abstract:
Data science methods increasingly are utilized to analyze theoretically derived psychological research questions. This article provides a case study of a student-focused research experience that introduced basic data science skills and their utility for psychological research, providing practical learning experiences for students interested in learning computational social science skills. Skills included programming; acquiring, visualizing, and managing data; performing specialized analyses; and building knowledge about open-science practices. Using examples from their teaching experiences, the authors describe how these skills can be incorporated into an active and engaging student learning experience that culminates in computational social science projects and presentations.
- Assessment‐ Cheryl L. Dickter, Anne H. Charity Hudley, Hannah A. Franz, and Ebony A. Lambert
SPUR (2018) 2 (1): https://doi.org/110.18833/spur/2/1/6 Abstract:
Underrepresented students have less knowledge of research experiences available on campus and are less likely to feel supported by faculty than represented students. To address these issues and increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate researchers, faculty at the College of William & Mary created the William & Mary Scholars Undergraduate Research Experience (WMSURE). Community-based and participatory research methods were used to work with students in developing research questions and in collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data about their academic and personal experiences. This led to the development of academic and research advising services, workshops, faculty education, and research funding to support underrepresented students. This article evaluates the program. Results suggest that the WMSURE program has increased research opportunities and feelings of support on campus.
- Assessment‐ Farron McIntee, Kendra R. Evans, Jeanne M. Andreoli, Abigail J. Fusaro, Melanie Hwalek, Ambika Mathur, and Andrew L. Feig
SPUR (2018) 2 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/1/5 Abstract:
For many college students, joining a research group is a critical step toward developing strong mentor-mentee relationships that help shape their science identities and research self-efficacy. ReBUILDetroit, a program that seeks to diversify the biomedical research workforce, uses a scaffolded process to help its scholars transition into research. The first-year curriculum includes a research methods course and a course-based undergraduate research experience that prepare ReBUILDetroit Scholars for entering a research group. Curricular and cocurricular elements prepare scholars for faculty interactions and diminish barriers that might otherwise prevent diverse students from obtaining these research experiences. The program facilitates research placements through student coaching and speed-pairing events. Quantitative and qualitative data on the scholars show strong perceived gains in science identity, enhanced research self-efficacy, and greater research preparedness.
A Model for Successful Cross-Campus Collaboration for Engaging Potentially At-Risk Students in Mentored Undergraduate Research Early in Their College Career‐ Catherine W. M. Chan, Prajukti Bhattacharyya, and Seth Meisel
SPUR (2018) 1 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/3/13 Abstract:
The authors discuss the Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) at University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, which pairs beginning students with mentors as paid research apprentices for one academic year. It seeks to encourage participation of students from underserved groups who are at higher risk of dropping out of college. RAP introduces students to mentored research, helps mitigate some of their financial needs, and gives students a sense of belonging and self-efficacy early in their academic careers. It also provides a first- to final-year pathway for students by fostering their transition to the Undergraduate Research Program and other applied learning experiences, thus ensuring their continuous engagement in high-impact practices. Preliminary data indicate that students and mentors value the program, and second- and third-year retention rates for RAP participants are higher than the campus retention rates.
- Editorial‐ Jennifer Coleman and Shauna Reilly, SPUR Issue Editors
SPUR (2023) 6 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/6/3/7 Abstract:
Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of Scholarship & Practice of Undergraduate Research (SPUR). In this issue, we consider the impressive reach of undergraduate research to varied student groups, different types of institutions, and across international and physical distances.
- Practice‐ Willa Zhen
SPUR (2020) 4 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/2/6 Abstract:
This article focuses on teaching and mentoring course-based undergraduate research in a vocationally focused higher education setting. At the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), students are immersed in hands-on experiential classes. Their education begins with basic culinary techniques, and they gradually progress toward more specialized cooking skills such as the techniques of specific world regions or the production of specialty products such as chocolates and wedding cakes. The author discusses pedagogical techniques used to teach these learners, who are not the usual participants in independent research projects during a senior capstone. This article examines how to blend and utilize hands-on, experiential activities as part of teaching data gathering and the research process.
Undergraduate Research and Inquiry-Based Learning in Geographical Information Science: A Case Study from China‐ Jing Tian, Yiheng Wang, Ghang Ren, Yingzhe Lei
SPUR (2022) 5 (4): https://doi.org/ 10.18833/spur/5/4/8 Abstract:
Undergraduate research experience is the process where undergraduates contribute to the development of a subject field through their inquiry-based learning (IBL). IBL is a student-centered learning strategy. Students work as professional scientists do, through inquiry. This article presents approaches to IBL and practices of an instructor from China for strengthening and facilitating IBL in geographical information science (GIS). Two paths were proposed for the development of the students on the basis of four modes of IBL. The practical experience was introduced in two parts: course design and IBL tool development for classroom teaching, and undergraduate mentoring outside of the classroom.
- ‐ James T. LaPlant, Editor-in-Chief
SPUR (2019) 3 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/1/9
The Problems and Possibilities of Creating and Sustaining a Multidisciplinary, Undergraduate, Digital Journal‐ Kerrie R. H. Farkas and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol
SPUR (2021) 4 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/4/3 Abstract:
Unprecedented growth has occurred in the development of undergraduate journals over the past 10 years. Yet, despite the numerous benefits that research shows for authors, editors, and faculty mentors involved in undergraduate publications, academic institutions have struggled to sustain student journals over time. Based on the authors’ experience with launching and sustaining a journal over six years and data collected from five years of exit interviews, reflective writing, and surveys, they discuss 10 key steps for creating and sustaining an undergraduate journal and overcoming the obstacles linked to such an endeavor.
The Impact of Early Participation in Undergraduate Research Experiences on Multiple Measures of Premed Path Success‐ Paulette Vincent-Ruz, Joseph Grabowski, and Christian D. Schunn
SPUR (2018) 1 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/1/3/12 Abstract:
The authors examine the effects of undergraduate research experiences on key steps in the path to medical school, considering the case of an undergraduate research experience (URE) offered to first-year students that also might influence performance in large introductory science courses. Using a historical dataset of 15,000 first-year students, logistic and linear regressions were performed to better understand the influence of early UREs on different measures of college success. Immediate effects of an early URE on second-year course performance and very large effects on second-year retention are demonstrated. There also are delayed effects on taking the MCAT and medical school acceptance. Results demonstrate the importance of early UREs and their role in STEM student persistence.
Undergraduates Graph Interpretation and Scientific Paper Reading Shift from Novice- to Expert-like as a Result of Participation in a Summer Research Experience: A Case Study‐ Anne U. Gold, Rachel Atkins, and Karen S. McNeal
SPUR (2021) 5 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/2/2 Abstract:
Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) programs often introduce students to scientific research and STEM career possibilities. However, the program impact on students and their research skill development is not well understood. In a case study with 10 REU students, the authors used eye-tracking and self-report data to determine student strategies for reading scientific papers and interpreting graphs at the beginning and end of the program. The strategies of REU students and science experts were then compared. The REU students changed their strategies and performed more like experts at posttest. These findings indicate that, during the REU, students acquired expert-like strategies necessary to engage with scientific articles and extract key information from graphs. The study demonstrates that eye-tracking can document skill growth in REU students.
- Practice‐ Michael Dorff and Suzanne Weekes
SPUR (2019) 2 (4): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/2/4/2 Abstract:
The PIC Math program works with mathematical sciences faculty at US institutions to help them prepare students for careers in today’s workforce. PIC Math faculty engage their students to solve data science and other research problems that come directly from industry. To accomplish the program’s objectives, the authors conduct a three-day summer training workshop for faculty, provide resources and training so faculty can successfully teach a semester-long course in which students are mentored in solving a research problem, and organize a student summer recognition conference. In the first three years, 107 faculty members from 101 institutions, including 16 historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, have participated in PIC Math. Faculty mentored 1,397 undergraduate students in research that came from more than 170 business and government agencies.
- Editorial‐ James LaPlant
SPUR (2017) 1 (1): https://doi.org/ Abstract:
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‐ Tunde Szecsi, Charles Gunnels, Jackie Greene, Vickie Johnston, and Elia Vazquez-Montilla
SPUR (2019) 3 (1): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/1/5 Abstract:
Teacher candidates have lower participation in undergraduate research than students in other disciplines. To enable teacher candidates to develop skills for scholarly activities and to engage them in research activities, teacher education programs utilize diverse approaches. This article describes a strategy to promote undergraduate research among teacher candidates using a systematic course-based infusion of skills necessary for undergraduate scholarship. In addition, it reports on the undergraduate students’ performance in research skills such as critical thinking, information literacy, and written communication in scholarly products over a three-year period. The results show an uneven but steady growth in research skills. Also discussed are the course and curricular modifications used by instructors to promote skill development for undergraduate research related to teaching
- Assessment‐ Mary Crowe and David Brakke
SPUR (2019) 3 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/2/3 Abstract:
In the past decade, the assessment of undergraduate research experience (URE) and course-based undergraduate research (CURE) has evolved and significantly expanded, with hundreds of studies published in books, white papers, technical reports, and academic journals. Much of the work has focused on the impact of URE and CURE on students, leading to new insights about the importance of mentoring and student self-efficacy and the identification of essential features of URE and CURE. Studies focusing on the impact of URE on faculty members and institutions have remained limited. The advent of a variety of assessment instruments and the spread of this high-impact practice across all academic fields suggest that the timing is ripe for new areas of study.
Supporting Twenty-First-Century Students with an Across-the-Curriculum Approach to Undergraduate Research‐ Patrick Corbett and Jody R. Rosen
SPUR (2020) 3 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/3/3/9 Abstract:
An across-the-curriculum (ATC) approach to undergraduate research (UR) is a productive addition to UR ecosystems at equity-oriented institutions. The ATC approach is differentiated from mentored UR experiences and laboratory course-based UR experiences by its ability to employ experiential, problem-based skills and practices for a broad variety of informal research activities at all levels of curriculum and without special facilities. In doing so, the ATC model encourages faculty to make the application of twenty-first-century student learning outcomes explicit for students who are new to research so that they see how inquiry, knowledge creation, and other aspects of problem-solving are used in practical ways that translate to professional and community contexts.
- Practice‐ Joshua R. McConnell Parsons, Jannell C. McConnell Parsons, Kathryn Kohls, and Jim Ridolfo
SPUR (2020) 4 (2): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/4/2/5 Abstract:
The authors of this study evaluate findings from a pilot implementation of a course-based undergraduate research experience integrated into a first-year general education writing classroom. In this initial pilot phase, two sections of the course were offered in fall 2018. Course participants completed retrospective precourse and postcourse measures designed to assess the course’s impact on their acquisition of research skills and their confidence related to inquiry and research. Demographic data also were collected to explore outcomes of underrepresented minority and first generation students. Findings show a statistically significant increase in perceived research skills and in confidence related to abilities as a researcher. Moreover, although there was not a large enough sample for statistical significance, first-generation students showed large gains in confidence.
Impact of Undergraduate Research Training Programs: An Illustrative Example of Finding a Comparison Group and Evaluating Academic and Graduate School Outcomes‐ Kaitlyn Stormes, Nicole A. Streicker, Graham K. Bowers, Perla Ayala, Guido G. Urizar Jr.
SPUR (2022) 5 (3): https://doi.org/10.18833/spur/5/3/8 Abstract:
In this study, researchers at a large, urban, comprehensive minority-serving institution used propensity score matching to identify a unique comparison group to study academic and graduate school outcomes in students served by the National Institutes of Health–funded Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative. Acknowledging that students’ self-selection biases may confound findings, the use of propensity methods to match students served with those who were not (but were otherwise eligible) provides a valuable tool for evaluators and practitioners to combat this challenge and better evaluate their effectiveness and impact on students’ success. This study’s findings indicate that BUILD participants had higher academic and graduate school success with regard to cumulative GPA, units attempted and completed, graduation status, and application and admission to graduate programs.