The Office of Undergraduate Research Prepares Instructors to Integrate Research

Faculty, staff, graduate students and instructors who have not explored the programs offered by the Purdue Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) may want to take a closer look this spring. Its mission to train, foster partnerships and steward meaningful research opportunities for undergraduate students includes several new and ongoing initiatives geared towards instructors from any discipline. As undergraduate enrollment increases to record levels and student demand for research experiences outpaces the availability of traditional, apprenticeship-model mentorships on campus, OUR staff are offering broad solutions to accommodate more students who wish to participate in research and build their critical and creative thinking skills.

Instructors can learn how to develop a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) through OUR’s CURE-Purdue program. Selected participants engage in a workshop to learn how to incorporate novel, authentic undergraduate research experiences (UREs) into a new or existing course and receive ongoing support throughout their CURE implementation. Through OUR’s upcoming June 2021 CURE-Purdue workshop, over 20 instructors will receive training from experienced mentors and peers. Integrating research opportunities into courses creates opportunities for a greater number of students to conduct research, and a CURE instructor can mentor and engage a larger number of students, yielding a significant increase over the traditional apprenticeship model.

“We are aware of the increasing demands and responsibilities on our faculty and instructors’ time,” says Amy Childress, director of OUR. “By connecting their teaching and research obligations, we hope that this experience is as fulfilling for the instructor as it is for the students. Research findings, thus far, indicate that a stronger integration between their teaching and research interests helps make CURE-Purdue participants better educators, mentors and researchers.”

Bringing research into the classroom improves access to this high-impact practice. Students can engage in research opportunities by registering for any course that interests them without requiring them to submit an application. It allows students who are interested in research, but may not have been exposed in high school to what it is and how it works, to gain valuable experience and further develop their skill sets.

Identifying and overcoming gaps in participation is something OUR staff are dedicated to achieving through an ambitious plan to bring URE participant data from across campus into a single location to better serve institutional and academic unit needs.

“Research opportunities at Purdue take several different forms, and at present, there is no single data stream to track all participants, mentors and experiences,” says Childress. “We are hoping to change that, but it is hard work and requires buy-in across campus.”

The OUR has essential infrastructure in place to support UREs and the faculty, staff and graduate students involved with them. OUR staff are available to partner with researchers across campus to assist with student recruitment, assess how well they are meeting overall goals and objectives, collaborate on grant proposals, and provide ongoing mentor support and consultation.

If interested in attending a future CURE-Purdue workshop, please visit this page to submit a short interest form. To learn more about the Office of Undergraduate Research or to explore potential collaborations, please visit OUR’s website or send an email to UGresearch@purdue.edu.

Note: This article originally was published as a Web Letter from the Office of the Provost here.

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