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Undergraduate Research and Inquiry

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry, which was created out of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), serves to advance the implementation and utilization of undergraduate research, experiential education and creative/artistic inquiry through broadening the scope of these high-impact practices both within the institution and throughout our communities.

Through a faculty-mentored process, we strive to scaffold students through the process of research and inquiry in any of the following areas:

  • authentic undergraduate science and humanities research,
  • creative works/artistic productions and
  • high impact practices, such as inquiry-based service-learning and internships.

Why advance undergraduate research and inquiry?

Undergraduate research and inquiry can be defined as any problem- or project-based examination, which begins with a question for review, utilizes discipline-specific methodologies to assess the question and draws conclusions from that assessment to make an authentic intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. This definition is extended to internship activities, works of art, performances and class-based projects, as well as more traditional scientific or humanities research.

  • It is important to note that not all experiential education activities are inquiry-based and not all inquiry-based activities are experiential. Therefore, this office, and the associate QEP, will work to join the two methods of education in harmony.

Such practices have been shown to result in any number of positive outcomes for students, including*:

  • Higher rate of graduate school enrollment
  • Increased knowledge in the student’s major
  • Improvement in the broad array of research skills, conducting ethical research and giving presentations
  • Increased interpersonal skills, including interaction with faculty and peers
  • Gains in problem solving, critical thinking and the ability to think independently
  • Greater satisfaction with educational experience

Learn more about defining research and inquiry

*(e.g., see Bauer & Bennett, 2003; Chopin, 2002; Hu, Scheuch, Schwartz, Gayles, & Li, 2008; Hunter, Laursen, & Seymour, 2006; Ishiyama, 2002a; Mateja & Otto, 2007; Thiry & Laursen, 2009)

Office Goals

The goals of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry include...

The goals of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry include:Research_Inquiry_Outcomes

  • Making the inquiry-based experiential education experiences across campus more comprehensive and cohesive.
  • Enhancing the awareness, importance and visibility of scholarship and inquiry at UT by actively promoting and supporting both faculty mentoring and student engagement in these key learning processes;
  • Increasing opportunities for student scholarship and creative works by developing more opportunities for faculty-student engagement for intensive mentoring and creative relationships;
  • Engaging more students in quality internship experiences through changes in curricular requirements, strengthening of the rigor of internship outcomes and improved relations with community partners; and
  • Enhancing the University organizational structure to support these experiential processes

To achieve these goals, the process begins in the student’s first-year classes (e.g., Baccalaureate Experience and the First-Year Seminar: BAC 101), is built upon in the second and third years within each major and culminates in mentored senior year project work.

Student Learning Outcomes

The expected student learning outcomes include...

The expected student learning outcomes, tied to the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry’s goals, include:

  • Improving critical thinking skills as determined by changes in student approaches and problem solving as measured by external and internal assessment instruments;
  • Improving communication abilities as determined by improvements in writing styles and abilities as measured by qualitative scoring rubrics and national normed tests;
  • Improving communication abilities in public speaking/presentation skills as measured by qualitative scoring rubrics and national normed tests;
  • Attaining practical skills related to the field of inquiry, including information/reference searching, quantitative literacy, creative thinking and problem solving relative to projects and performance standards.