Research Projects


Undergraduate research is “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline” (Council on Undergraduate Research, 2011, p. 1).

Undergraduate research is considered a high-impact practice (Kuh, 2008). High impact practices are characterized by the following several common elements:

  1. They are effortful: they “demand that students devote considerable time and effort to purposeful tasks [and] require daily decisions that deepen students’ investment in the activity as well as their commitment to their academic program and the college.”
  2. They help students build substantive relationships and "interact . . . with faculty and peers about substantive matters . . . over extended periods of time” during which relationships develop that “put students in the company of mentors and advisers as well as peers who share intellectual interests and are committed to seeing that students succeed.”
  3. They provide students with rich feedback and frequent feedback, not limited to the assessment of classroom work but also including feedback from supervisors and colleagues.
  4. They help students apply and test what they are learning in new situations and provide “opportunities for students to see how what they are learning works in different settings, on and off campus. These opportunities to integrate, summarize, and apply knowledge are essential to deep, meaningful learning experiences.”
  5. They provide opportunities for students to reflect on the person they are becoming. Reflection “deepen[s] learning and bring one’s values and beliefs into awareness; [it] help[s] students develop the ability to take the measure of events and actions and put them in perspective. As a result, students better understand themselves in relation to others and the larger world, and they acquire the intellectual tools and ethical grounding to act with confidence for the betterment of the human condition.” (Kuh, 2008, as cited by Undergraduate Studies, n.d., p. 1).

According to the Council on Undergraduate Research (2011), the benefits of undergraduate research are as follows:

  • Enhanced student learning through mentoring relationships with faculty
  • Increased retention
  • Increased enrollment in graduate education and provides effective career preparation
  • Development of critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and intellectual independence abilities
  • Development of an understanding of research methodology
  • Promotion of an innovation-oriented culture

Practical Applications

Hannah Hudson (2014) recommends six skills students need for researching online. Although the target audience for this article is grades 6-8, the advice is still excellent for students of any age or grade level, including higher education.

  1. ​Check your sources – evaluating information found in your sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context
  2. Ask good questions – developing and refining search queries to get better research results
  3. Go beyond the surface – displaying persistence by continuing to pursue information to gain a broad perspective
  4. Be patient – displaying emotional resilience by persisting in information searching despite challenges
  5. Respect ownership – respecting intellectual property rights of creators and producers
  6. Use your networks – using social networks and information tools to gather and share information (Hudson, 2014)

Teaching online research skills:

Recommended Resources

  • Encouraging Undergraduate Research , Center for Teaching and Learning, University of California, Berkeley: ( This site explains the undergraduate research program at UC Berkeley and provides sample syllabi and research projects.)
  • Council on Undergraduate Research : ( The Council on Undergraduate Research is a national organization of over 900 institutional members. This site provides information about the Council’s mission and information for faculty members supporting undergraduate research.)
  • Undergraduate Research Program , University of Wisconsin – Madison: ( This site describes the undergraduate research program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the benefits of collaborative research between faculty and undergraduate students. )
  • Building Bridges between Research and Undergraduate Teaching , College of Business, Colorado State University: ( This article discusses the benefits of undergraduate research for students and suggests SoTL (scholarship of teaching and learning) research for faculty. )
  • Structure of a Scholarly Manuscript: 66 Tips for What Goes Where , Kenneth Knight & Christopher Ingersoll: . (This reference guide offers tips to assist potential authors interested in writing scientific, technical or medical articles.)

​Related Evaluation and Assessment Resources


Posted by: Dina Battaglia

Original Posting Date: 10/27/14