Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry

At St. Catherine University, we define “research” very broadly. Projects that involve investigation, inquiry, creativity, discovery, originality, analysis and interpretation are all considered scholarly work.

Research in the natural and physical sciences might mean designing experiments to test theories or hypotheses, developing a new product, or exploring the unknown. Research in healthcare might mean testing a new method of care or intervention. A team of economists who analyze data to help a school district make decisions, a student-faculty collaborative who edit a volume of essays on Harry Potter, an interdisciplinary group of artists who create videos to highlight the benefits of a liberal arts education — all are examples of research and creative inquiry at St. Kate’s.

A collaborative undergraduate research team poses in front of their research poster presentation.
Students as Scholars

St. Kate's is committed to providing opportunities for all students to engage in research, scholarship, and creative inquiry. This might happen in a classroom or laboratory, through participation in community engaged learning, or in collaboration with a faculty member and small team of students.

Students who develop as scholars are primed to lead in their field, work for systemic change, and transform the world.

  • Students who participate in research or creative inquiry not only increase their disciplinary knowledge, but learn the methods and practices used in these fields, increase their ability to problem solve, respond positively to new challenges, adapt, and persist when things are difficult.
  • Through deep engagement, they develop the ability to analyze and synthesize information, address challenges with creativity and persistence, become adept at dealing with ambiguity, and act ethically and responsibly.
  • Working in a team, students balance independent work with collaboration, practice discourse around challenging ideas and resolve conflicts respectfully.
  • When presenting their work at conferences or exhibitions they hone communication skills, make connections with other scholars, and learn about career opportunities.

These skills are valued and sought by graduate and professional programs, employers, and community organizations.

Professor Katie Campbell works with two students on a collaborative research project.
Faculty as Mentors and Scholars

Collaborative research and creative inquiry not only benefit students, but are fulfilling for faculty as well. The shared experience of an interdisciplinary community of scholars helps faculty support one another in their scholarly endeavors and become connected with resources for maintaining active scholarship.

These connections benefit junior faculty in their development as mentors and scholars and have helped senior faculty revitalize and engage in scholarship.

National research also documents the benefits of working collaboratively with students:

  • “faculty members who mentored undergraduate researchers improved their teaching, appreciated student insight into research questions, and reported higher job satisfaction” (Osborn and Karukstis, 2009)
  • “increased scholarly productivity, professional rejuvenation, and remaining current in one’s field of inquiry” (Dolan and Johnson, 2010)

Opportunities for Faculty to Collaborate with Undergraduate Students

Research and Creative Inquiry Highlights

A key outcome of undergraduate research projects is sharing research and/or projects with a larger scholarly community.

Students from St. Kate’s have a higher-than-average acceptance rate for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and more than 90% of teams have presented at an undergraduate or discipline-specific regional, national or international conference.