Faculty-Supervised Research

What Qualifies as Faculty-Supervised Research?

Faculty-supervised research is a form of experiential learning that involves a faculty member (or other qualified individual) guiding one or more students through a systematic study of a specific topic that leads to new knowledge, new understanding of human experience, or creative or technical innovation. Whether the research experience occurs in a lab, clinic, office, studio, classroom, library, or remote location, the student should have the option of getting course credit that affirms their participation. Courses that affirm participation in research carry a transcripted Research attribute and enable UC to quantify student participation.


A systematic study of a specific topic that leads to new knowledge, new understanding of human experience, or creative or technical innovation.

Forms of Faculty-Supervised Research

Apprenticeship-Style Research Experiences (AREs)

Apprenticeship-style research experiences (AREs) describe faculty-supervised research that occurs within the faculty member’s research environment. Students engaging in AREs without financial compensation should be able to register for credits that carry the Research attribute. Courses that provide credit for AREs have titles such as Undergraduate Research, Thesis Research or Dissertation Research. Courses that include research as one of several options for experiential learning are not counted as research courses. For example, an Independent Study course that allows options such as skill development, service learning, or research is not counted.

Generally speaking,

  • students register 1 research credit for every 3 hours per week they spend on the project, including time spent developing knowledge and skills to support their research activity (e.g., students who spend 9-10 hours/week on a project register for 3 credits).
  • some degree programs allow undergraduate students who register for 3 or more research credits to use the experience to satisfy an elective or capstone requirement.
  • students who are financially compensated for their contributions do not register for research credits.

Course-Based Research Experiences (CREs)

Course-based research experience (CREs) describe faculty-supervised research that occurs in classroom settings. Courses in which students engage in the research process (Fig. 1) should carry the Research attribute. CREs may occur over the course of 1 or 2 semesters.

Generally speaking,

  • students do not necessarily direct all aspects of the research process (e.g., the research goal or strategy may be provided by the faculty member).
  • students who are not directly involved in one or more aspects of the research process should still develop knowledge and skills to explain and defend those them.
  • students should disseminate their work as a presentation, publication, or some other form of preservation (e.g., archiving in Scholar@UC).
diagram shows the five aspects of the research process: identify question or goal; define research strategy; gather and process information; derive outcome; and preserve and share work. Feedback and input from others are given at every stage, with formal review at the end.

Figure 1. A discipline-agnostic schematic showing five general aspects of the research process. The first three (i.e., identify question or goal; define research strategy; and gather and process information) are informed by previous work. The last two (i.e., derive outcome; and preserve and share) intend to inform future work. People icons indicate feedback along the way with formal reviews at the end.

Quantifying Faculty-Supervised Research

The number of undergraduate and graduate students who engage in faculty-supervised research at UC is estimated in part by their registration in courses with a transcripted Research attribute. The total enrollment in class sections with the “Research” attribute is published to the university community using the Experiential Learning dashboard maintained by Institutional Research.

Other research experiences occur outside of transcripted courses, e.g., within an undergraduate research program.

Who assigns course attributes?

Faculty may assign course attributes to the courses they propose. Curriculum committees and administrators may influence course attribute decisions during their approval process. Each year, UC’s Office of Institutional Research assigns UC’s Program Director for Undergraduate Research the task of reviewing new and existing courses from the previous year and marking them as "Research" if the project description conveys student involvement in research process. This "mark" does not change the attributes affiliated with the course, but it does affect whether students in the course are counted as participating in research as a form of experiential learning.

How to ensure your course is counted as a research course

The best way to ensure a course is counted as a research course is to use language that describes it as such in the course title or course description. For example, you may consider using one or more of the following phrases:

  • Faculty-supervised research
  • Apprentice-based research experience (ARE)
  • Course-based research experience (CRE)
  • ...use research methods to produce... (e.g., new knowledge, an original or refined interpretation, deepened understanding, an innovative solution, etc.)
Table 1 shows examples of recent course descriptions that are unclear and were therefore excluded from institutional measures of faculty-supervised research (middle column) and course descriptions that adequately convey the integration of a faculty-supervised research experience (right column).
Table 1. Comparison of Course Description Language
Domain Research Unclear (not counted in metrics) Research Conveyed (counted in metrics)
A&S: Communication This course engages students in research methods that identify and solve public relations problems and support public relations goals. It includes the logic of empirical research, current trends in public relations research, development of goals and questions, with a focus on the application of research to real-life PR situations. Students learn to identify and apply the foremost methods of conducting public relations research. Students will complete an independent research project or assist with an ongoing research project under the guidance of a faculty member.
CAHS: Communication Science and Disorders The Capstone Experience will allow the students to demonstrate proficiency in the five Baccalaureate Competencies of the General Education Program as well as in the content of the B.S. degree by completing a project, research or participating in service-learning. Learning goals, activities, and outcomes related to speech language pathology are designed by the student and instructor and supervised by the instructor. This course is designed to make clear the philosophical and logical foundations of scientific reasoning based on the principles of empiricism, causality, and probability theory. Students will learn about the principles underlying quantitative and qualitative research designs and the types of statistical analysis appropriate for the analysis of different kinds of data. Projects are incorporated that facilitate skillful reading and comprehension of scientific literature and the ability to formulate a well-funded research proposal. CITI Training will also be completed as part of this course.
CEAS: Biomedical Engineering Student will work independently with faculty member on a medical device project involving design, testing, analysis or all of these to learn about a specific class of devices used to treat disease or injury. In this course, students will develop their proposal for their senior-year BME Research Translation Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RTIE) Capstone. Students will identify their RTIE Capstone mentor, work with their mentor to identify a research project, conduct a literature search and review the literature to familiarize themselves with the research question, work in the mentor's lab to learn the necessary techniques to accomplish the research, and write, present, and defend a RTIE Capstone Proposal.
DAAP: Design This course focuses on the conceptual thinking and problem-solving methods used by graphic designers in developing communications that sell ideas. Emphasis is placed on evaluating the messaging and sales objectives to create designs effectively communicating and influencing a targeted audience. Discussions will cover graphic design principles and methods, which students will then apply to develop their own proposed solutions to address assigned problems. The purpose of this course is to advance understanding of communication theory with applicable design methods, while solving complex problems in a range of visual media: print, time-based, interaction, and contextual framework. Using a combined format of studio and lecture, this team-based course includes research methods concept development, content manipulation, and structuring, ultimately producing design prototypes for critical evaluation. Student teams will further develop skills in project planning, time-management, presentation, and user testing. Working with a preselected theme that examines pertinent cultural and social issues, students gain greater awareness about the design profession's societal role and influence.
CCM: Music Communication and Research for Today’s Musician helps CCM’s MM students discover the resources that will help them to contextualize and understand the pieces of music they are learning. Students will develop the skills and the confidence to communicate their ideas in a variety of different contexts. Near the beginning of the semester, each student will devise a recital or a group of musical works (about 60 minutes in length) that they would like to focus on for the semester. This selected music becomes the focus of their learning experiences throughout the course. The emphasis of the class sessions is on active learning through class discussions, peer-to-peer feedback, and exploration of different ways to communicate about and listen critically to music. In this course, students work with an individual faculty adviser to identify and research an appropriate musical topic in which they can demonstrate their knowledge of methods, issues, and research resources in academic music studies and related disciplines. While students present their findings in a medium appropriate to the topic (e.g., multi-media project, song portfolio, service-learning project, etc.), a written component of at least 2500 words is required. Although the project is not expected to demonstrate completely original research, it must discuss the topic from a fresh perspective. In keeping with standard disciplinary practices of peer review, a second, objective evaluator chosen by the faculty adviser will assess the completed project.
CoM: Public Health The purpose of the capstone is to provide students with applied learning in an area of public health, specifically related to their area of concentration. The Master of Public Health capstone will provide students with applied learning experiences beyond those which are part of their regularly scheduled work duties. Students will demonstrate their ability to understand a problem, articulate solutions, think critically about public health issues, and express learning in both written form and oral presentation. Students must choose between a Capstone or Thesis option to fulfill this requirement. A meeting with the instructor of this course is required for permission to enroll. The purpose of the Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) is to provide students with applied learning in an area of public health, specifically related to their area of concentration. Students will learn how to prepare and defend the written introduction of his/her Capstone or Thesis. This will consist of a brief overview of the project including a summary of the background leading to the research question or purpose for the research. Students will demonstrate their ability to understand a problem, articulate solutions, think critically about public health issues, and express learning in both written form and a oral presentation. Students are required to submit a final report that is a minimum of 15 pages (excluding cover page, table of contents, graphs, figures, tables, and references), but the exact number is to be approved by their Committee Chair. Students must also give a 15-minute presentation on their ILE at the end of the semester in which they register for ILE credit.