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About the Office of Undergraduate Research

Mission:  The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) empowers students and faculty to equitably and inclusively engage and succeed in inquiry, creative activity, and scholarship.

Vision: OUR will empower UMD to enhance its standing as a world-class, preeminent institution of higher education through the transformational impact of student research experiences.

We provide programs, services, and resources that support UMD's capacities to advance:

Culture & Community

Broaden culture, presence, and community around undergraduate research and scholarly activities across OUR campus.

Equitable Opportunity

Ensure equitable and inclusive access to undergraduate research opportunities for OUR faculty and students of all backgrounds and levels of experience.

Recognition & Credit

Support opportunities for OUR students to earn degree-advancing academic credit and emerging forms of novel credentialing.

Advancing the Fearlessly Forward Strategic Plan

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As part of UMD's implementation of the Fearlessly Forward strategic plan, OUR is strengthening and expanding research opportunities by advancing equitable and inclusive access for students of all backgrounds and levels of experience.

Diversity & Inclusivity

Participation: The values of diversity, equity, and inclusion lie at the heart of OUR’s mission; informed by both a concern for equity and a conviction that richly diverse research teams and communities of scholars will be best positioned to address the most significant challenges of our day, we work in collaboration with partners across campus to expand access to undergraduate research opportunities and to address barriers that impede the participation of students from all backgrounds and levels of experience.

 

Defining Research: We anchor our activities in a conception of research that is broadly expansive, including STEM and beyond STEM disciplines. Research entails the creation of new knowledge and understanding through a scholarly or artistic process of discovery. We value a wide range of approaches to sharing research, from museum installations to academic journal articles to podcasts. OUR seeks to embrace UMD’s research community in its full complexity and richness and contribute in meaningful ways to the efficacy and sustainability of engaging undergraduates in this ecosystem.

Undergraduate Research as a Path to Academic, Professional, and Personal Development

OUR grounds its work in the scholarly literature on undergraduate research. This literature informs our day-to-day decisions regarding our programs and services and motivates our efforts to connect undergraduates with meaningful research opportunities on campus and beyond. Taken as a whole, this literature suggests that undergraduate research – with its emphasis on active learning, iterative problem solving, and close mentoring relationships – can make a powerful contribution to students’ academic, professional, and personal growth.

Academic Impacts: Studies have consistently characterized undergraduate research as a high-impact practice, a mode of educational engagement that has significant positive effects on undergraduate learning, engagement, and academic success.  Of all high-impact practices, undergraduate research is shown to have the highest levels of efficacy when measuring student engagement and impact.

Engagement in undergraduate research has been associated with several positive student outcomes. Peer-reviewed evaluations of research experiences at a diverse set of institutions including California State University at Long Beach, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater offer similar findings regarding the relationship between participation in undergraduate research and degree persistence: student participants are more likely to complete their undergraduate degrees. Similarly, peer-reviewed studies of undergraduate research have found that these transformative experiences promote the attainment of higher cumulative GPAs at graduation.

Professional Impacts: Participation in research facilitates undergraduates’ readiness for success in their career destinations after graduation.

 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight core competencies associated with career readiness in new college graduates. In NACE’s model, a recent graduate’s readiness for career success is linked to their capacity to:

  • identify opportunities for personal and professional growth,

  • communicate,

  • think critically,

  • promote equity and inclusive practices,

  • lead,

  • conduct themselves with professionalism,

  • work productively with others,

  • and use technology effectively.

Engaging in undergraduate research contributes to the development of these competencies. Students commonly report gains in their understanding of research methods, their capacity to evaluate evidence, and their grasp of research ethics, among other positive outcomes.

Personal Impacts: Student engagement in research is rarely in isolation.  Rather, students build meaningful professional and peer mentor relationships with faculty, experienced students, and other connected researchers within their fields of interest. The combination of research engagement combined with these powerful forms of mentorship can lead to significant gains in confidence, self-efficacy, and goal orientation for participating students – especially students from underrepresented populations.

 

Additionally, participating in research can be a powerful vehicle for developing deeper self-knowledge and identifying potential areas of career specialization, saving students years of time in better developing a meaningful understanding of their areas of interest and passion.

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