Undergraduate Research at a Teaching-Oriented College: Seniors’ Perspectives and Approaches to Consider

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Robin Herlands Cresiski
Qingmin Shi
Sandip Thanki
Lori Navarrete


This study examines the relationship of undergraduate research (UGR) participation on senior students’ reported engagement, perceived gains, satisfaction with their educational experience and retention, and graduation status compared to peers that have not participated in UGR. Data were drawn from 1,472 senior students at a comprehensive, teaching-oriented public college, and collected from administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) from 2015 to 2019, along with institutional data. This examination uniquely investigates outcomes of UGR participation besides persistence and graduation (which are already well documented) and leverages the lens of senior students in particular. In addition, this study contributes to the literature on UGR at teaching-oriented colleges, which has been sparse most likely because there are many more opportunities for UGR at research institutions. In line with several conceptual frameworks of student engagement, data analysis revealed that relative to their peers who have not participated in UGR, UGR-participating students have higher levels of engagement, perceived gains, and overall satisfaction. UGR-participating students also continued enrollment and/or graduated at a higher rate after reaching their senior status compared to non-participating peers. The implications for teaching-oriented colleges, as well as suggestions for how these institutions can enhance their undergraduate research programming, are discussed.


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Cresiski, R. H., Shi, Q., Thanki, S., & Navarrete, L. (2021). Undergraduate Research at a Teaching-Oriented College: Seniors’ Perspectives and Approaches to Consider. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v21i1.30353