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Westminster College Professor and Student Conduct Research on Undergraduate Research

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Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This September, an article written by Dr. Sandra K. Webster, professor of psychology, and Nicole Karpinsky ’14, graduate student at Old Dominion University, was published in the fall 2015 issue of the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) Quarterly.

Their article, “Using COUER to Assess the Undergraduate Research Environment: A Three-stage Model for Institutional Assessment,” presents research used as a model of institutional assessment. Webster and Karpinsky assessed how well Westminster College’s undergraduate research program fit into CUR’s COUER (characteristics of excellence in undergraduate research) list.  

Through their research, which consisted of audits, qualitative interviews, focus groups, and quantitative surveys, Webster and Karpinsky found that “undergraduate research is highly valued by Westminster’s faculty and students.” 

“Westminster’s faculty stressed the significance of undergraduate research – and quantify it in visible improvements through student content knowledge, skills and preparation for the world beyond their undergraduate college,” said Webster. “We found that time is a major barrier for both students and faculty because undergraduate research, while a very highly impactful, requires a lot of time outside of regular classwork for both students and their faculty mentors.”

According to Webster, undergraduate research is defined as “when students pose their own research questions and use the methods of majors to solve those questions.” It can include original creative/artistic productions, historical or literary analysis and or the collection of new data to answer those questions. 

For more information, contact Webster at or (724) 946-7259.