Designing Research-Intensive Courses

Research Intensive (RI) courses are designed for the students to actively engage in project-based work that incorporates the process of research, inquiry or creative activity and scholarship that adheres to disciplinary norms.  Student ownership of their project, mastery of appropriate skills, and dissemination are central to the philosophy of an RI course.  Projects may be completed by teams or individuals.  Students must be guided by a content expert.   Projects should be built upon prior scholarly work of others in the discipline and aim for student creation of new knowledge.

***This framework is pending final approval by the Office of Undergraduate Research’s Advisory Committee***

Research-Intensive Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should have been engaged in the following:

  • Developing a research question or project objective informed by prior scholarly work in the discipline that has the potential to advance knowledge
  • Applying skills and methods appropriate to the discipline such as generating data or gathering data, producing creative work, utilizing existing data sources, and engaging in inquiry
  • Analyzing/evaluating project results according to standards of the discipline, drawing conclusions, and identifying areas for future study; and
  • Communicating results/outcome of the project and receiving feedback on both the quality of the scholarly work and the quality of the communication

Research and creative scholarship should account for at least 50% of the course grade.   Activities and assignments should be scaffolded over the course of the semester to ensure that students develop their disciplinary knowledge, research-mindset, and critical thinking.   Ample opportunities for timely formative feedback on the student’s research/creative scholarship activities should be built into the schedule.  A description of student deliverables related to research activities and timeline must be provided.

Research-intensive courses may also provide planned opportunities for students to:

  • Identify, evaluate, synthesize, and cite scholarly literature, relevant data and reports, or creative work.  See Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.
  • Develop research and creative skills and methods appropriate to the discipline, including analytical skills and communication skills.
  • Identify questionable research practices and complete Research Ethics & Compliance Training appropriate to the discipline.
  • Engage in self- reflection to produce insight into their learning and growth, professional identity, and implications of their work.   Peer or instructor feedback should be provided for student reflections.

Undergraduate research and creative scholarship is designated as a High Impact Practice (HIP).   Engaging and impactful HIPs feature dimensions of reflection, interaction, and intentionality.  Instructors should consider how the characteristics of quality HIPs may be incorporated into a Research-Intensive course at MU.