Undergraduate research affords faculty the opportunity to work with highly motivated undergraduates in their field. Researchers get a unique opportunity to do practical, hands-on scholarship with Mizzou’s renowned faculty, and their mentors get access to some of Mizzou’s best and brightest students.
Coaches often point out that participation in collegiate athletics makes a lasting contribution to students’ lives by building teamwork and character. In an excellent article titled, “Undergraduate Research: Showcasing Young Scholars” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Sept. 12, 2003), David W. Chapman demonstrates how the benefits of undergraduate research parallel that assertion. By checking facts, forming carefully-worded hypotheses and supporting a particular viewpoint without becoming emotionally involved in it, students build a strong foundation for their future careers. More recently, U.S. News & World Report (Sept 20, 2019) published the article, “Why Undergraduate Research Matters in College.”
As a faculty member at Mizzou, you have a unique opportunity to bring undergraduate students into the fabric of academic life as they use research to explore, expand and understand their world.
“There is nothing more central to the mission of a university than activities associated with discovery, creation, innovation and scholarship. So, I think that what defines a great university is the integration of these activities into the entire fabric of the undergraduate experience. No activity accomplishes this more fully than involving undergraduates in research, and MU does this as well as any university I have seen in the nation.”
— Jim Coleman, Former Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Biology
One of the first steps for faculty members to begin in undergraduate research is to identify how students can fit into your own research/creative scholarship plans.
Start by thinking about what support duties a beginning student could help you with. Do your graduate students need assistance? Is there a piece of your project that can be carved off into a “doable chunk” for an undergraduate? Is there a study you would like to pilot but don’t have enough time? Some types of work are:
– Literature reviews
– Data entry & validation
– Survey preparation & management
– Archival and other primary source research
– Basic statistical analysis
Remember, for an undergraduate the experience is the goal — even if the project does not result in a publication, they still will have gained much experience from working with you.
Find Students to Work With You
If you don’t already have a student in mind or don’t have access to students this semester through classes you instruct, here are some other ways to recruit students:
- Post your research/creative scholarship job opportunity to this site via our job posting form.
- Post the position(s) on Handshake (formerly Hire Mizzou Tigers.)
- Ask colleagues to make an announcement in appropriate courses.
If you find a younger student than you had hoped for, you may be able to find something to engage them, while you wait for them to complete course work that you feel is necessary. Mentoring a student from their freshman through senior year can be a rewarding experience!
PLOS One Article ‘Factors that predict life sciences student persistence in undergraduate research experiences’. “… found the most important factors that influence whether a student decides to continue working in research included a positive lab environment and enjoying their everyday research tasks.” – Science Daily, August 14, 2019
When problems arise between mentors and students, it is usually because the roles and expectations were not clear and mutually agreed-upon. Here are some suggestions:
- Have the student provide you with a weekly schedule, including the number of hours (and days/times) the student will be working on the research project. It is wise to hold the student accountable to a regular, weekly schedule at the beginning of the experience.
- Outline your expectations of the student, including any extra reading required.
- Outline the best way for the student to communicate with you. Do you have an open-door policy? How do you like to make appointments? Do you want the student to come to the meeting prepared with something specific? Are you going to be out of town for an extended period? Who can the student go to for advice if you are gone?
- What timeline do you have for the project? Are there goals that can be broken down by weeks or months?
- What is the student’s main responsibility? What decisions (if any) can he or she make independently? How should a student be documenting his or her work?
- Have regular formal meetings with the student to provide feedback on the quality and quantity of their work. Set these meetings up ahead of time, before problems develop and it is more difficult to offer constructive criticism.
- Describe to students how they can grow into the project as they gain more skills and experience. Without knowing what can develop, students may see some of the entry level work as a dead-end.
Explore Funding Opportunities
- Visit the list of MU undergraduate research programs.
- Speak with your department chair or dean to determine if there are other funds available.
- Mizzou Alumni Association – Dr. Richard Wallace Faculty Incentive Grants
- Look to national sites or businesses for outside grants/funding
If you have a National Science Foundation (NSF) or National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, you may be able to get a Research Experiences for Undergraduate supplement. See Frequently asked questions or talk with the program director at your granting agency to find out if there are one-time supplements available to support undergraduate research partners.
If you are writing a grant proposal and need some assistance with budget suggestions, text, or providing structure to an undergraduate research experience, or need a letter of support, contact Linda Blockus, PhD, (BlockusL@missouri.edu).
If your student has work-study money, contact your department work-study contact or Rob McDaniels (McDanielsR@missouri.edu) in the Career Center.
If your student is a first generation college/low income student or is a member of an ethnic group underrepresented in graduate studies, have the student look into the McNair Scholars Program.
Post a Research Job
Are you looking for students to assist you in your research projects? Post your opportunities here. Just login with your Mizzou pawprint and password.
All postings will be automatically removed after two months from the initial posting. For more information on posting a job or instructions on how to edit or delete a job, click here.
Note: If you are not affiliated with the University of Missouri and do not have a University-issued email address, please submit your job information to the Office of Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org.