A Taxonomy for Developing Undergraduate Research Experiences as High-Impact Practices

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Abbey E. Fischer
Kathy R. Immel
Kristi Wilkum
Laura R. Lee


The call to increase student participation in high-impact practices (HIPs) to improve student learning, satisfaction, and retention is being answered in a multitude of ways. Faculty and staff involved in undergraduate research see this as validation of their efforts, which it is. However, Kuh & O’Donnell’s (2013) work challenges research mentors to reevaluate their efforts in order to intentionally provide an even richer and more engaging research experience. Making undergraduate research a high-impact practice requires thinking inclusively about how the research experience can be scaled across the curriculum, adjusted to increase student engagement, and adapted to student preparation and desired learning outcomes. This article presents the work of a statewide multi-disciplinary faculty team that developed a scalable taxonomy for incorporating high-impact practices into student learning experiences and to serve as a roadmap for designing and assessing undergraduate research experiences. The authors offer a layered taxonomy, with milestones of increasing engagement, that establishes what sets a HIP undergraduate research experience apart from other HIP experiences and what distinguishes good practices from high-impact teaching. Aligning undergraduate research experiences with best practices across disciplines, types of research opportunities, and student achievement level was a key goal in the taxonomy development. We present cases where the taxonomy was applied to research opportunities embedded in general education courses across disciplines and different modalities. In these vignettes, the utility of the taxonomy as a tool for assessing course design and teaching effectiveness is examined and common challenges in development, implementation, and assessment of student learning experiences are also explored.


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Fischer, A. E., Immel, K. R., Wilkum, K., & Lee, L. R. (2021). A Taxonomy for Developing Undergraduate Research Experiences as High-Impact Practices. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v21i1.30564