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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...

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)

Inquiry-Based Course Development and Redesign Grant Request for Proposals

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (OURI), along with the QEP...

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (OURI), along with the QEP Committee of the Faculty, is pleased to request proposals from departments and faculty to develop or redesign courses within the majors to align with the inquiry-based experiential education focus of the OURI. These courses will ensure “students will be introduced to the tools and technologies of their disciplines” through “enhanced discipline-based courses” (QEP p 17).

Download the form for Inquiry-Based Course Development and Redesign Grant Request for Proposals.

Stipend and Grant opportunities through OURI

A summary list of stipends and grants...

Below is a summary list of stipends available to faculty teaching inquiry-based sections of courses, as well as grants available to faculty-student dyads completing inquiry projects within their respective fields of study.

More detailed requirements to receive the various stipends or grants are outlined in the proposal applications. Any questions about these opportunities can be directed to the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry at OURI@ut.edu.

Stipends

First-Year Seminar (available since Fall 2016)

Each year we aim to provide students in the First-Year Seminar course with early exposure to the inquiry process via the BAC or HON 101/102 sequence. Each inquiry-based section is taught from the perspective of the faculty’s ongoing research interest and includes the development and implementation of a project for the students to complete over the course of the two semesters. Faculty are encouraged to propose their unique inquiry-based sections during the application period for teaching first-year seminar sections. This is typically around December and comes out of the Office of First-Year Experience in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

In addition to the standard stipend for BAC or HON, faculty are awarded an addition $500/semester for teaching an inquiry-based section.*

Inquiry Courses within Academic/Department Programs (available since Fall 2017)

In an attempt to enhance the focus of inquiry throughout our curriculum, departments are encouraged to support the development or assessment of inquiry-based courses within respective academic program offerings (ie., majors or minors). Inquiry-based courses within specific academic programs can take the form of new development of an inquiry-based course, redesign of an existing course to be converted to an inquiry-based course, significantly changing an assignment within a course to become inquiry-based in focus or adding assessments to an already inquiry-based course. With department support, faculty are encouraged to apply to teach inquiry-based courses within their academic programs via the request for proposals sent out from the OURI around January of each year.

Stipends for inquiry courses within programs vary from $400-$1,000 per faculty member.*

Interdisciplinary Internships (upcoming)

As a means to incorporate the importance of varying perspectives in critical thinking and problem solving, OURI will work with the Office of Career Services and interested faculty to develop teams of students to work on problem- or project-based solutions over the course of a semester-long internship at a local business or organization. These teams will be made up of students from across the colleges and be tasked with finding unique inter-disciplinary solutions to problems and concerns facing the internship site. At the end of the semester, students will present their work in front of stakeholders.

*Receipt of stipends will be contingent upon completion of required assessments needed for evaluation of the inquiry-based initiative. These include students completing two online surveys and faculty using, and completing, two rubrics to evaluate final course papers and/or presentations.

Grants

Year-long undergraduate research projects (under pilot 2017–2018)

Stipends for yearlong project grants are $4,000 per faculty member per project .

Summer research projects (upcoming)

Stipends for summer research project grants are $5,000 per faculty member per project.

Conference and Workshop support through OURI

OURI is dedicated to helping students experience all aspects...

Student Conferences

OURI is dedicated to helping students experience all aspects of the inquiry process from start to finish, including presenting completed works to peers at conferences. Therefore, when possible, we will provide complete support for travel to research conferences, such as the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference and other select conferences, or partial support as needed if resources are limited from other supporting groups.

Computer Software Licenses

In an effort to help maximize time, work independently or even allow students the freedom to work from their computers onsite during an inquiry project, OURI has set aside funds to either purchase or reimburse students for the purchase of software licenses. Many programs, such as IBM SPSS, offer license usage for a predetermined period of time (e.g., six months). When those options are not available, OURI will work with faculty mentors to find the best solution to getting a student the computer program support they need to successfully complete an inquiry-based project.

Faculty Conferences and Workshops

In addition to supporting faculty to attend select conferences, such as FURC, to support students presenting their projects, OURI is pleased to support faculty attendances at conferences and workshops aimed at advancing the inquiry-based experiential education initiative on our campus. Some examples of conferences include the National Society of Experiential Education, Conference on Undergraduate Research. If faculty learn of other conferences they are encouraged to contact OURI at OURI@ut.edu to see if we can help support attendance.

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.