What Is Undergraduate Research?
Undergraduate Research is defined as an inquiry, investigation, or creative endeavor by an undergraduate student that enhances the student’s knowledge or advances the student’s creative abilities and contributes in a meaningful way to the student’s chosen discipline.
In 2005, the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) jointly endorsed the following statement on undergraduate research:
Its central premise is the formation of a collaborative enterprise between student and faculty member—most often one mentor and one burgeoning scholar but sometimes (particularly in the social and natural sciences) a team of either or both. This collaboration triggers a four-step learning process….
- the identification of and acquisition of a disciplinary or interdisciplinary methodology
- the setting out of a concrete investigative problem
- the carrying out of the actual project
- finally, the dispersing/sharing a new scholar’s discoveries with his or her peers—a specific step traditionally missing in most undergraduate educational programs.
For West Georgia students, undergraduate research is often an evolving experience that they participate throughout their time on campus. While students are not required to begin the pursuit of research projects at any specific point, they are encouraged to begin exploring the possibilities as soon as possible.
Collaborative research projects allow students to further explore their areas of interest through hands-on work with faculty members. This type of learning is quite different from classroom learning in several ways, including:
- Students get to help formulate the questions that their research will help answer
- Students get to help design the methods that are used to answer the questions
- Students interpret the results of their discoveries and obtain new knowledge
- Students learn how to share their new results and contributions to others in their academic field
Undergraduate research is not limited to laboratory and scientific settings, although there are many opportunities for research in these areas. New discoveries and contributions can also be made in literature, social sciences, education, business, and creative arts, which also all provide exciting avenues for experiential learning. There are also interdisciplinary opportunities and students may also explore research endeavors in areas outside of their major and/or minor.
Click here for information on getting started in undergraduate research.