CEL facilitates multi-institutional research on engaged learning topics. Participants from institutions around the world collaborate over three years, producing scholarship that shapes research and practice globally.
CEL is home to two book series. In addition, CEL research seminars and other initiatives have produced 100+ publications (to date).
CEL’s concise guides offer research-informed practices for engaged learning.
CEL’s concise guides offer practical strategies for studying engaged learning.
CEL brings together international leaders in higher education to develop, synthesize, and share rigorous research on central questions about student learning.
The CEL Scholar role and CEL Student Scholars program enable Elon faculty and students to deepen their understanding of and professional development in scholarly activity on engaged learning.
Baker, Vicki L., Jane Greer, Laura G. Lunsford, Dijana Ihas, and Meghan J. Pifer. 2018. "Supporting Faculty Development for Mentoring in Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 131-153. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Bauer, Karen W., and Joan S. Bennett. 2003. "Alumni perceptions used to assess undergraduate research experience." The Journal of Higher Education 74: 210-230. https://doi.org/10.1353/jhe.2003.0011.
Past studies have examined current students’ perceptions of UR. These authors asked University of Delaware alumni about their participation in a number of campus activities, including UR. They were asked to rate whether their skills were enhanced because of their undergraduate degree on 32 items (e.g., write effectively, use statistics or math formulas, carry out research, maintain openness to new ideas, etc.). Some participants had participated in the university’s formal UR program (URP alumni), some stated they had engaged in UR but were not in the formal program (self-reported UR), and some had not engaged in UR (non-research alumni). URP alumni reported the most benefits from engaging in UR when compared to the other two groups, particularly for those who had completed a senior thesis. Both research groups stated that they were better able to carry out research than the non-research alumni group, with the highest scores from the URP alumni. URP alumni also scored higher than non-research alumni on other skills like intellectual curiosity, acquiring information independently, acting as a leader, and speaking effectively. For all alumni who engaged in research, those who participated for longer expressed greater benefit from the experience. UR had clear benefits for students as measured by their attitudes and self-reported skills.
Crisp, Gloria, Vicki L. Baker, Kimberly A. Griffin, Laura Gail Lunsford, and Meghan J. Pifer. 2017. "Mentoring Undergraduate Students." ASHE Higher Education Report 43 (1).
Garnder, Pamela W., Duhita Mahatmya, Rebecca M. Jones, and Shannon N. Davis. 2018. "Undergraduate Research Mentoring Relationships: A Mechanism for Developing Social Capital for Underrepresented Students." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 77-103. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Gilmore, Joanna, Michelle Vieyra, Briana Timmerman, David Feldon, and Michelle Maher. 2015. "The relationship between undergraduate research participation and subsequent research performance of early career STEM graduate students." The Journal of Higher Education 86: 834-863.
While many studies on the benefits of UR have used self-report measures, this study used research skill performance in graduate school as its main measure. All students were first year graduate students in a STEM program. They wrote research proposals at the beginning and end of their first year of graduate school. Some of these students had engaged in UR as undergraduates and some had not. Two trained raters independently evaluated the proposals using a pre-established rubric (composed of four subscales) and inter-rater reliability was high. On the pre-proposal, students with UR experience outperformed those without UR experience on 3 of the 4 subscales (Data Presentation, Results, Total Score). On the post-proposal, students with UR also outperformed the other group on all parts of the rubric except Introduction and Context. The authors underscored the importance of UR for successful graduate school performance.
Hall, Eric E, Helen Walkington, Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Jenny Olin Shanahan, R. K. Gudiksen, and M. M. Zimmer. 2018. "Enhancing short-term undergraduate research experiences in study abroad: curriculum design and mentor development." PURM: Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring 7 (1): 1-17. http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/files/2018/10/Hall_Walkington_VandermaasPeeler_Shanahan_Gudiksen_Zimmer_main.pdf.
Hall, Eric E., Helen Walkington, Jenny Olin Shanahan, Elizabeth Ackley, and K. A. Stewart. 2018. "Mentor perspectives on the place of undergraduate research mentoring in academic identity and career development: An analysis of award winning mentors." International Journal of Academic Development 23 (1): 15-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2017.1412972.
Hill, Jennifer, and Helen Walkington. 2016. "Developing Graduate Attributes through Participation in Undergraduate Research Conferences." Journal of Geography in Higher Education 40 (2): 222-237. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1140128.
This article examines students’ experiences at a national undergraduate research conference in an effort to understand the development of graduate attributes, which are the framework of skills, attitudes, values and knowledge that graduates ought to have developed by the end of their degrees. The research takes a largely qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews to collect data. The authors explain that research on graduate attributes is relevant because there is a growing, international conversation about the purpose and characteristics of higher education, and that it is becoming ever more important for institutions to justify their social roles to students. This article focuses on a case study of 22 Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) graduates, and forms part of a larger study on interdisciplinary graduate attributes. Additionally, the authors split the attributes they analyzed into five categories: communication; research and inquiry skills; personal and intellectual autonomy; ethical, social, and professional understanding; and information literacy. Notably, the authors found that the conference provided a safe and supportive, while also challenging, context for students to develop these skills. This research highlights the importance of opportunities to develop such skills outside of formal disciplinary curricula.
Hill, Jennifer, Helen Walkington, and Derek France. 2016. "Graduate attributes: implications for higher education practice and policy." Journal of Geography in Higher Education 40 (2): 155-163. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1154932.
This article offers an overview of existing higher education literature on and attitudes towards the development of graduate attributes, while introducing the papers which comprised a symposium on this research context. One issue the authors discuss is the extent of the connection between what academic staff set up for students in terms of skill development and how much students actually experience. The authors also note the importance of students accepting agency in the process of developing their own graduate attributes, rather than letting the system determine their identities. In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that regardless of inconsistencies in teaching and assessing graduate attributes, they play a valuable role in enhancing learning and connecting learning to work beyond students’ academic careers.
Johnson, W. Brad. 2018. "Foreword." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, ix-xii. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Ketcham, Caroline J., Eric E. Hall, Heather M. Fitz Gibbon, and Helen Walkington. 2018. "Co-Mentoring in Undergraduate Research: A Faculty Development Perspective." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 155-179. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Ketcham, Caroline J., Eric E. Hall, and Paul C. Miller. 2017. "Co-Mentoring Undergraduate Research: Student, Faculty and Institutional Perspectives." Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring 6 (1). http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/files/2017/10/final_Ketcham-Hall-Miller_main.pdf.
This article outlines the benefits and challenges of co-mentoring for students, faculty mentors, and institutions. The authors themselves have several years of experience co-mentoring undergraduate research projects, and offer insights they have gained through those projects. The authors present the co-mentoring model they have developed and a practical guide to co-mentoring, incorporating salient practices of mentoring undergraduate research. In their conclusion, the authors note that a lot of work needs to happen to foster co-mentoring relationships, but if that happens, they can be extremely beneficial to all involved parties.
Kinkead, Joyce. 2003. "Learning through inquiry: An overview of undergraduate research." New Directions for Teaching and Learning 93: 5-17.
Kinkead (2003) defined UR, explored its importance in the undergraduate experience, and identified key UR programs at various institutions. She noted that although the elite students (honors) are typically engaged in UR, at risk and underrepresented students also benefit from engaging in UR. Kinkead (2003) also discussed institutional UR issues like administration, funding, and resources.
Kneale, Pauline, Andrew Edwards-Jones, Helen Walkington, and Jennifer Hill. 2016. "Evaluating undergraduate research conferences as vehicles for novice researcher development." International Journal for Researcher Development 7 (2): 159-177. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-10-2015-0026.
This paper assesses the significance of participation in undergraduate research conferences on students’ attitudes and professional development, including the development of graduate attributes. The paper positions the undergraduate research conference as an authentic learning context using the theory of situated learning. The authors interviewed 90 undergraduate students at research conferences, and analyzed their responses using the Researcher Development Framework. Students reported that paper presentations, poster presentations, and the overall conference experience were particularly valuable to their skill development. Two of these skills were public engagement and communication, which the authors note are routinely sought after by employers. The authors also offered some suggestions to conference organizers in order to maximize skill development, including providing dedicated networking time within the program.
Larson, Susan, Lee Partridge, Helen Walkington, Brad Wuetherick, and Jessie L. Moore. 2018. "An International Conversation about mentored undergraduate research and inquiry and academic development." International Journal of Academic Development 23 (1): 6-14. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1360144X.2018.1415033.
Lopatto, David. 2007. "Undergraduate research experiences support science career decisions and active learning." CBE-Life Sciences Education 6: 297-306. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.07-06-0039.
Students engaging in summer research completed the SURE (Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences) and an altered version again 9 months later to see if their perceptions changed over time. Students reported similar gains on both surveys on items like understanding of the research process and readiness for more demanding research. Some participants engaged in summer research programs away from their home institutions. These students reported higher scores on clarifying their career path, science writing skills, and self-confidence. These students were also more likely to finish their research project in the summer when compared to students who stayed at their own campus. Minority students reported similar gains (if not greater gains) than other students. Further, a comparison of summer survey and follow-up survey results showed that student perceptions were stable over time. The author concluded with a discussion of methodological issues in UR research.
Lopatto, David. 2010. "Undergraduate research as a high-impact student experience." Peer Review 12.
Lopatto (2010) described the benefits of UR and that standardized measures of those benefits can be accomplished using online assessments like the SURE survey. He also discussed the importance of a research community that can include peer mentors. The author also focused on the importance of integrating UR into the curriculum during the academic year. One potential model is CURE. He concluded with a discussion of future directions that includes interdisciplinary research.
Moore, Jessie L. 2018. "Afterword." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 215-219. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Nicholson, Brittany A., Meagan Pollock, Caroline J. Ketcham, Heather M. Fitz Gibbon, Evan D. Bradley, and Michelle Bata. 2017. "Beyond the Mentor-Mentee Model: A Case for Multi-Mentoring in Undergraduate Research." Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring 6 (1). http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/files/2017/10/Nicholson_et_al_6.1.pdf.
In this paper, the authors argue that multi-mentoring can be applied in a global, interdisciplinary context to undergraduate research, and make the case for moving beyond the traditional one-to-one model as the default for inquiry into undergraduate research practices. The paper includes descriptions of relevant multi-mentoring and co-mentoring models, and offers suggestions for implementing multi- and co-mentoring practices to advance the undergraduate experience. In their conclusion, the authors note that institutions will need to assist faculty mentors in overcoming some of the challenges that accompany starting out with multi-mentoring.
Palmer, Ruth J, Andrea N Hunt, Michael R Neal, and Brad Wuetherick. 2018. "Mentored Undergraduate Research: An Investigation into Students' Perceptions of Its Impact on Identity Development." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 19-42. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Russell, Susan H., Mary P. Hancock, and James McCullough. 2007. "Benefits of undergraduate research experiences." Science 316: 548-549.
The authors’ paper focused on UR in the sciences and included surveys of 15,000 students and mentors. They found that UR students are demographically diverse, are mostly juniors and seniors, have higher GPAs, and are more likely to want to obtain a higher degree than non-researchers. The authors described several positive outcomes of engaging in UR, including increased confidence and a clarified interest in STEM.
Seymour, Elaine, Anne B. Hunter, Sandra L. Laursen, and Tracee Deantoni. 2004. "Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: First findings from a three year study." Science Education 88: 493-534. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.10131.
The authors studied the costs and benefits of engaging in UR. The student participants were engaged in a summer research program for rising seniors at one of four liberal arts institutions. Students were positive about their experiences. The largest reported gains were in confidence at working as a scientist. Students noted that their research and problem-solving skills were enhanced as was their disciplinary knowledge. Many students also discussed large improvement in their communication and lab skills. Students valued the time with their mentors as well as working with other colleagues. Several also gained clarity regarding their career pathway and felt better prepared for graduate school. The authors also discussed their plans for further research with these data.
Shanahan, Jenny Olin, Elizabeth Ackley-Holbrook, Eric Hall, Kearsley Stewart, and Helen Walkington. 2015. "Ten salient practices of undergraduate research mentors: A review of the literature." Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning 5: 359-376. https://doi.org/10.1080/13611267.2015.1126162.
The authors conducted a literature review that focused on UR mentors’ practices. They wanted to know what effective mentorship looks like, because mentorship is the basis for successful UR. They described ten salient mentoring practices: strategic pre-planning; clear and well-scaffolded expectations; teach technical skills, method, and techniques; balance rigorous expectations with emotional support; build community among team members; dedicate time to one-on-one mentoring; increase student ownership over time; support student professional development; create opportunities for peer-mentoring; and guide students through dissemination.
Shanahan, Jenny Olin. 2018. "Mentoring Strategies that Support Underrepresented Students in Undergraduate Research." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 43-75. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Shanahan, Jenny Olin, Helen Walkington, Elizabeth Ackley, Eric E. Hall, and Kearsley A. Stewart. 2017. "Award-Winning Mentors See Democratization as the Future of Undergraduate Research." CUR Quarterly 37 (4): 4-11. https://doi.org/10.18833/curq/37/4/14.
In this article, the authors set out to identify likely future trends for undergraduate research (UR) in the next five to ten years. This research is important for the field because it can help faculty and administrators consider how they plan to allocate resources to ensure equitable and high-quality UR mentoring in the future. The authors conducted a literature review and interviews with faculty who have won awards for their commitment to and expertise of UR. Their two main findings are as follows. First, UR will likely see greater democratization in terms of greater access to opportunities for students from historically-underserved groups, students from nontraditional populations, and students with average academic performance histories. And second, mentor-mentee relationships are expected to strengthen across national and international borders as online communication capacities continue to advance. Curricula redesigns that incorporate inquiry-based learning may also facilitate greater participation in UR.
Shawyer, S., R. Aumiller, E. E. Hall, and K. Shively. 2020. "Mentoring undergraduate research in theatre and dance: Case studies of the salient practices framework in action." PURM: Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring 8 (1): 1-12. https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/undergraduate-research/purm/wp-content/uploads/sites/923/2020/02/Shawyer-et-al.pdf.
Taraban, Roman, and Erin Rogue. 2012. "Academic factors that affect undergraduate research experiences." Journal of Educational Psychology 104: 499-514. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026851.
These researchers used the Undergraduate Research Questionnaire (URQ) to assess the cognitive benefits of engaging in UR. The URQ’s subscales are Academic Mindset, Research Mindset, Research Methods, Faculty Support, and Peer Support. Biology and psychology students participated in the study. More research hours and lab course credits were related with higher enthusiasm for research. The frequency of faculty hours also mattered. More hours meeting with faculty was related to higher scores on Research Mindset and Research Methods. GPA also predicted scores on all five subscales, indicating that students with higher GPAs benefited more than those with lower GPAs. The authors conclude that we need to pay attention to student differences in UR.
Vandermaas-Peeler, Maureen, Paul C. Miller, and Jessie L. Moore. 2018. "Introduction: Considering Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in Context." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 1-18. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Vandermaas-Peeler, Maureen, Paul C. Miller, and Jessie L. Moore. 2018. Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
This edited collection features multi-institutional and international research from the 2014-2016 Center for Engaged Learning research seminar on Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research.
Walkington, Helen, Eric E. Hall, Jenny Olin Shanahan, Elizabeth Ackley, and Kearsley Stewart. 2018. "Striving for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research: The Challenges and Approaches to Salient Practices." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 105-129. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.
Walkington, Helen, Jennifer Hill, and Pauline E. Kneale. 2016. "Reciprocal elucidation: a student-led pedagogy in multidisciplinary undergraduate research conferences." Higher Education Research and Development 36 (2): 416-429. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1208155.
This article investigates the benefits of attending a multidisciplinary research conference as an undergraduate researcher, focusing on student voices and self-perceptions of learning and skill development. The authors conducted 90 interviews with student conference participants over the course of three years, and found that the opportunity to present research in a setting outside of institutional or disciplinary contexts bolstered student researchers’ development of skills and confidence. The authors frame the undergraduate research conference as a threshold experience for self-authorship development, and thus such conferences are much more than just a space to present research findings. They also found that students who presented at conferences often reported a sense of unfinishedness, which challenges academics to consider ways to bring comparable experiences into the classroom, to provide space for students to develop knowledge through reciprocal dialogue.
Walkington, Helen, Kearsley A. Stewart, Eric E. Hall, Elizabeth Ackley, and Jenny Olin Shanahan. 2020. "Salient practices of award-winning undergraduate research mentors– balancing freedom and control to achieve excellence." Studies in Higher Education 45 (7): 1519-1532. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03075079.2019.1637838.
Walkington, Helen, and Elizabeth A. C. Rushton. 2019. "Ten salient practices for mentoring student research in schools: New opportunities for teacher professional development." Higher Education Studies 9 (4): 133-147. https://doi.org/10.5539/hes.v9n4p133.
Wuetherick, Brad, John Willison, and Jenny Olin Shanahan. 2018. "Mentored Undergraduate Research at Scale: Undergraduate Research in the Curriculum and as Pedagogy." In Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research, edited by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Paul C. Miller and Jessie L. Moore, 181-202. Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research.