Integrating and Scaffolding Research into Undergraduate Curricula

Probing Faculty, Student, Disciplinary, and Institutional Influences: CUR Transformations Project 2016-2023 – NSF (16-25354)

High-impact practices, such as undergraduate research, have been championed as approaches to increase student learning and success and to prepare students for the 21st century with skills that employers value and society needs. Through a series of professional development workshops that began in 1996 and via successive grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF-DUE #0618721, DUE #0920275), CUR has prominently worked with faculty members and administrators to institutionalize undergraduate research on campuses of all types across the U.S. Yet, with all the progress that has been made, only a small proportion of students are able to participate in undergraduate research as a result of numerous financial, curricular, and cultural constraints.

The CUR Transformations Project (NSF-DUE #16-25354) addressed the call to redesign the undergraduate curriculum to provide all students with more equitable access to the benefits of undergraduate research. This NSF-funded national model project had the dual goals of assisting departments to actively develop more research-rich curricula while researching the interconnected factors that are conducive to curricular and cultural transformation.

The findings and lessons of this research are synthesized in a theory of change that broadly applies not only to STEM disciplines, but to all academic and institutional types. This project had many of the intended outcomes, culminating in the published edited volume Transforming Academic Culture and Curriculum (2024), which describes and unifies the research-based evidence, theory, and practical approaches from the participating institutions and departments and holistically across the longitudinal study. 

Transforming Academic Culture and Curriculum is a comprehensive guide for any faculty and academic administrators interested in enhancing the college curriculum to be more inquiry based and actively involve students as knowledge creators. By addressing this shift as a culture change, using backward design and change agency skills, engaging disciplinary contexts and rich assessment practices, the contributors help leaders see the needed steps to create sustainable and deep change. Case examples pulled from across their research study make the work tangible in various campus and departmental settings. Importantly, they make the case that building research into undergraduate education is an equity imperative to make such experiences available to all.”

Adrianna Kezar, the Dean’s Professor of Leadership, Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California

Note: CUR Members can save 30% off the price of the book by using code CU30 when purchasing from

Project Information

Meet the Principal Investigators

Mitch Malachowski

Lead Principal Investigator

University of San Diego

Elizabeth Ambos

Ambos Consulting

Lindsay Currie

Council on Undergraduate Research

Kerry K. Karukstis

 Harvey Mudd College

Jillian Kinzie

Indiana University 

Jeffrey Osborn

The College of New Jersey

For additional questions on this project, please reach out to