The opportunity to participate in the CASTL Leadership Program in the area of undergraduate research comes at a perfect time. Undergraduate research is a longstanding tradition at UMBC. Our founding faculty understood that research experience supports the academic success of all students, undergraduate as well as graduate. Over the years, we have intentionally increased the number and range of opportunities for our students to engage in authentic inquiry. We have established several intramural programs and many extramurally-funded programs to support students’ engagement in undergraduate research.
Through our participation in the CASTL Leadership Program, we expect to conduct a more formal, comprehensive, and analytical evaluation of the role of undergraduate research experiences at UMBC and related learning outcomes. Specifically, we will articulate what students will know and be able to do as a result of their participation in research. We will identify assessment tools both quantitatively and qualitatively to evaluate student learning outcomes.
We have chosen to participate in the leadership group focusing on Undergraduate Research because UMBC values and emphasizes undergraduate research  and because we have developed innovative programs for supporting and rewarding it. Our three signature undergraduate research initiatives are Undergraduate Research Awards (URA), Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD), and the UMBC Review, a peer-edited and archival journal. Undergraduate research awards are available on a competitive basis to students who formulate their own research question or creative project and develop a full proposal, including budget, for consideration by a faculty selection committee. For the last decade, URCAD has showcased the outcomes of students’ scholarly and creative work in an outstanding day-long conference. URCAD is indistinguishable in content, quality, attendance, audience participation, and professionalism from symposia of professional societies. Multiple concurrent sessions and venues support poster, oral, and performance presentations. The ultimate outcome of scholarship is publication. The UMBC Review provides a vehicle for this type of long-lasting and broad dissemination. The Review is in its seventh volume. Together, these three programs entail a $133,000 commitment from the university each year.
As a research university, UMBC also offers undergraduates the opportunity to participate in the experimental and scholarly research conducted by our faculty, as well as the research conducted at nearby institutions such as NIH, NIDA, USDA, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Students also spend summers participating in research at other well-regarded national and international laboratories and institutions. Among the large number of scholarship programs requiring or supporting undergraduate research at UMBC is the widely respected Meyerhoff Scholarship Program.
1. UMBC Self Study 2006, see pg. 11, 50.