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Drive to Twenty Five Undergrads in research, scholarship & discovery plan

Undergrads in research, scholarship, and discovery plan (draft)


Increase the percentage of undergraduate students participating in research, scholarship, and creative activity

Key assumptions
  • The existing Office of Undergraduate Research can provide the leadership necessary to achieve the goals.
  • There are multiple methods of participation and engagement possible, from course-based to individually mentored research, scholarly, and creative experiences.
  • All students should have the opportunity to engage in these learning experiences, regardless of major or class level. Development of skills, dispositions, and knowledge should be scaffolded through the curriculum and co-curriculum across all 4 years so that students are appropriately prepared for the type of experience they have selected.
  • As no new state resources are foreseen until after 2020, increased levels of participation in the short term will need to be supported by existing distributed resources, new grants, and philanthropic gifts from the upcoming campaign.
  • Targets should be realistically set in light of available investments.
  • To achieve these goals, faculty need to be engaged and on board. This may require cultural shifts in some areas.
  • WSU already has some elements of a program of excellence in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity. A significant initiative to develop undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity at the institutional level could provide national prominence, whether or not the University hits a “Top 25” target in quantitative terms.
Recommended key activities
  • Continue activities that provide access, build confidence, and prepare students to engage in research, scholarly, and creative activity (e.g. SURCA, research awards, travel awards for dissemination, research preparatory courses UNIV 199).
  • Establish baseline of current participation in various levels of engagement:
    • Group-taught courses identified as research/scholarship/creative activity-based
    • Directed research/scholarship/creative activity and thesis work that may or may not have an attached course
    • Research/scholarship/creative activity outside of the University
  • Adjust systems (SIS, Activity Insights) as needed to capture data going forward. Develop and disseminate clear guidance to faculty about reporting “directed learning activities.”
  • Develop a group to manage the vetting and designation of these research based courses and research/scholarship/creative experiences.
  • Use Council on Undergraduate Research’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR) framework to benchmark WSU’s existing program and determine capacity for expansion under various resource scenarios.
  • Set target in light of current activity levels and resource base.
  • Determine faculty workload implications and adjust systems as necessary (annual review, course loads, tenure and promotion).
  • As a potential way of expanding course-based research or individually mentored research/scholarly/creative activity, consider supporting redesign of key UCORE Inquiry courses to foster targeted outcomes.
Expected outcomes
  • Students will be more broadly and deeply engaged in inquiry-based activities, which will accelerate and deepen their mastery of key university learning goals, including Critical and Creative Thinking and Communication.
  • A greater proportion of students will develop more confidence in their skills, greater career readiness, and clearer career focus.
  • Greater pool of qualified undergraduates to assist faculty research/scholarship/creative activity, with the potential to increase
    faculty productivity (grants, publications, compositions, etc.).
  • Greater visibility and availability of undergrad research, scholarship, and creative opportunities should become a recruiting magnet

Potential measures of participation:

  • Currently about 25% participate in UGR (NSSE self-report). One measure could be to exceed peer average on NSSE UGR measure (currently 30-35%).
  • Faculty measures:
    • “directed learning experiences” reported in Activity Insights
    • publications, presentations, or juried shows involving undergraduates (Activity Insights report)
    • Grants involving undergraduates (AI?)
  • Course-based counts of student participation
  • Other measures:
    • SURCA participation
    • Centrally funded awards (e.g., Auvils, Carsons)

Working group members


Daniel J. Bernardo
Office of the Provost

Mary Wack
Office of the Provost

Committee members

Cara Christopher
University Marketing and Communications

Amit Dhingra
Department of Horticulture

Renee Hoeksel
College of Nursing, WSU Spokane

Jeannie Holt
Office of the Provost

Zach Howard

Stacey Hust
Department of Strategic Communication

Brian Kraft
Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology

Mary Sanchez Lanier
Office of Undergraduate Research

Grant Norton
Honors College

Kristina Peterson-Wilson
Office of the Provost

Shelley Pressley
Office of Undergraduate Research

Sarah Ullrich-French
Sport Science

Regan Volk
Student, WSU Tri-Cities

Full report

Read the working group report