Mentored Undergraduate Research Study Group Recommendations and Actions

The Undergraduate Research Study Group recommended:

  1. Improved communication to faculty members and students about mentored undergraduate research opportunities;
  2. Expansion of the number of CURI projects from what was about 15-20 projects each summer to 25-30, or roughly “one project per department per year” (significantly more students than this are involved in various kinds of summer research, largely thanks to outside grants linked to individual faculty members’ research);
  3. Because there are limits to expanding summer research, an expansion of the number of academic research experiences by increasing the number of Directed Undergraduate Research (DUR) opportunities to 12-15 annually;
  4. An expanded role for CURI, including additional funding for travel for research and presentations linked to CURI projects, and for administration;
  5. Recognition of faculty participation in UGR (e.g. in SSSAWs, in faculty searches) and modest compensation for faculty members mentoring summer undergraduate researchers; and
  6. Specific steps to explore next steps for CURI.

Achievements and Actions:

  • Since 2011/12, we have worked to increase funding for CURI projects. We have been helped in this effort by annual fund and endowed gifts, and by foundation grants.
  • This year, we have supported 54 CURI projects, just one project shy from the recommended level, and a 50% increase from 2011.
  • While projects in the natural sciences remain the most numerous, CURI and DUR projects in other disciplines have increased.
  • The number of DURs offered reached the Study Group’s recommended number this past academic year.
  • The faculty approved a .5 credit DUR option.
  • Faculty mentors of CURI projects now receive a modest stipend.

Number of DURs (and enrollment) per Term 2011/12-2013/14

  Fall Interim Spring Summer Total
2013/14 3 (14) 1 (4) 8 (48) 0 12 (71)
2012/13 4 (26) 3 (16) 2 (11) 0 9 (23)
2011/12 2 (14) 1 (4) 2 (9) 2 (7) 7 (34)

 

Supporting both faculty research and mentored undergraduate research have been a number of initiatives, such as the “Let’s Get Digital Workshops” and the Tri-College Digital Humanities and Digital Humanities on the Hill grants, aimed at helping faculty members explore the use of digital resources in teaching and research. A broadening array of library and IT professionals with expertise in the use of digital sources and technologies for teaching and learning is engaged in these efforts.