Accessible Undergraduate Research Training

The Accessible Undergraduate Research Training project investigates how various types of social science research experiences (UREs) – such as lab-based, course-based, and individual apprenticeships – benefit a wide range of students, including women, minoritized students, and first-generation undergraduates. Student skill development from participation in UREs in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has been well documented but here we are studying how UREs in the social sciences compare. We are also studying the benefits to research supervisors and what mentorship structures work best.

  Project Details

Various forms of Undergraduate Research Experiences (UREs) are evolving to cater to diverse student needs. From virtual opportunities emphasizing effective delivery and skill transfer, to lab-based, course-based, and independent UREs, these experiences encompass team projects, practical training, and personalized research, contributing to a comprehensive landscape of undergraduate research initiatives. In this project, we are researching four different types of UREs within our School. 

Online UREs

Transitioning UREs into virtual spaces expands opportunities for a diverse student body. Historically, online programs provided access to non-traditional students, but now include younger and more traditional college students. Students of all ages and locations are increasingly turning to online education. There is a crucial need to develop effective means for delivering virtual undergraduate research opportunities and ensuring those opportunities are effective in giving students valuable transferrable skills. One such effort is the Social Research Training (SoRT) program.

Lab-based UREs

In the realms of physical and life sciences, the conventional lab-apprenticeship model has long been the standard, though it seldom considers the lab itself as a variable in examining undergraduate research experiences. Notably, social scientists also utilize labs as training grounds, and within our School, there are several labs, such as Culture Health and Environment Lab. Within these settings, we are actively introducing and assessing Laboratory-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (LUREs) as a potentially valuable method for involving social science undergraduates in research endeavors.

Course-based UREs

The popularity of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) has grown as a means to offer widespread access to real-world research opportunities. Unlike pre-formulated lab-based classes that follow step-by-step procedures and anticipated outcomes, CUREs center around team-based research projects spanning an entire semester. While these experiences, akin to other undergraduate research endeavors, have predominantly been available in the physical and life sciences, they yield comparable student outcomes. Within our school, we provide CUREs through practicum courses, aiming to evaluate students' learning experiences in research and the skills they acquire.

Independent UREs  

Since 2011, our Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program has provided 203 Independent Research Experience (IRE) opportunities with 60 diverse faculty mentors. In this program, research mentors publicize specific positions, and students, much like a job application process, are selected by the mentors to work one-on-one with a supervisor. The nature of the research experience is contingent on the individual project and mentor. Generally, students undergo training on the overall project, engage in research tasks, have regular meetings with a research mentor, and receive personalized feedback on their completed assignments. Here, we assess perceived gains and outcomes with both supervisors and students.

  Research Team



Ruth, A., A. Brewis, M. Beresford, & C.M. Stojanowski. (2024). Research Supervisors and Undergraduate Students’ Perceived Gains from Undergraduate Research Experiences in the Social Sciences. International Journal of Inclusive Education.

Ruth A., A. Brewis, M. Beresford, M.E. Smith, C.M. Stojanowski, C. SturtzSreetharan & A. Wutich. (2023). Lab-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (LUREs): Evidence of Effectiveness from the Social Sciences. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 7(1): 43-53.

Ruth, A., A. Brewis, C. SturtzSreetharan, A. Wutich & C. Stojanowski. (2022). Effectiveness of Online Social Science Undergraduate Research Experiences: Exploratory Evidence. Frontiers in Education.

Beresford, M., A. Wutich, A. Brewis, M. du Bray, A. Ruth, R. Stotts & C. SturtzSreetharan. (2022). Coding Qualitative Data at Scale: Lessons Learned for Large Coder Teams Based on 18 Studies. International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Ruth, A., A. Brewis & C. SturtzSreetharan. (2021). Effectiveness of Social Science Research Opportunities: A Study of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). Teaching in Higher Education.

Ruth, A., A. Wutich & A. Brewis. (2019). A Model for Scaling Undergraduate Research Experiences: The Global Ethnohydrology Study. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. March: 37(1): 25-34.

Ruth, A., A. Brewis, D. Blasco & A. Wutich. (2018). Long-term Benefits of Short Term Research-Integrated Study Abroad. Journal of Studies in International Education.

Ruth, A., A. Wutich & A. Brewis. (2016). The Global Ethnohydrology Study: Integrating Global Health Undergraduates in Collaborative Research. Practicing Anthropology. October: 34(4).