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Value of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities

Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) president, Jeffrey M. Osborn, stated that educational outcomes obtained by students participating in undergraduate research or another type of engaged learning are broader than those of students not participating in these activities (Osborn, 2008). Some of the gains made by these students which the president identified include cognitive and intellectual growth, professional growth and advancement, and personal growth. Osborn explained that students engaging in these activities demonstrated "increased creativity and critical thinking, enhanced ability to put classroom knowledge into practice, greater persistence in the major, higher rates of acceptance and enrollment in graduate/professional schools, enhanced ability to work collaboratively with others in teams, and enhanced development of personal initiative," (Osborn, 2008, p 4-5).

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has also identified several "high impact" activities that increase the likelihood of student engagement and success in college. According to the NSSE Annual Report: Experiences That Matter (2007), these high impact activities are marked by several key characteristics. They demand that students devote considerable time and effort, require students to work closely with faculty and other students in a substantial fashion, increase the likelihood that students will experience working with diverse individuals, assure that students gain frequent feedback about their performance on a regular basis, and provide opportunities for students to see how their learning works in different contexts such as field work or internships (NSSE Annual Report, 2007). "As a result, students better understand themselves in relation to others and the larger world, and acquire intellectual tools and ethical grounding to act with confidence" (NSSE Annual Report, p 8).

Clearly, participation in a well developed undergraduate research or creative activities project includes all of these characteristics. The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program (URCA) at SIUE provides a well developed undergraduate research or creative experience for undergraduate students. Accepting up to 25 URCA Associates per year and over 100 URCA Assistants per semester, our faculty demonstrate commitment to the pursuit of scholarly excellence.

References

Osborn, J. M. (2009). From the president: assessing outcomes. Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 29, 4-5.

Center for Postsecondary Research. (2007). Experiences that matter: Enhancing student learning and success annual report 2007. Bloomington, IN.

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