Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Graduate Research Consultants

Purpose

Graduate Research Consultant Steven Sanders works with an undergraduate student in Prof. Paulyn Cartwright's Developmental Biology lab class, where he helped to facilitate student-designed research projects.
Graduate Research Consultant Steven Sanders works with an undergraduate student in Prof. Paulyn Cartwright's Developmental Biology lab class, where he helped to facilitate student-designed research projects.

The Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) program is designed to support instructors interested in incorporating more intensive research and creative projects into their undergraduate classes. 

The GRC program provides financial support ($500) to a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher who works with a particular course to help design a research project, mentor students, and evaluate student learning.  By research projects, we mean opportunities in which students use the methods of the discipline to pose questions, apply those methods in investigation, and communicate formally their findings to others.  We ask that your course include a mechanism for students to communicate their findings publicly, such as via a class presentation, a poster session, a website, etc.  GRCs are expected to work 30 hours over the course of the semester and attend a half-day workshop at the beginning of the semester.

GRCs are not the same as instructors, lecturers, or graduate teaching assistants.   GRCs have knowledge in research methodology and their role is to help facilitate the undergraduate research process.  They are not involved in grading students' work or administering the class and are not required to attend all class sessions.  The following list includes examples of ways that a GRC might spend their time:

  • lead in-class discussion on days related to the research project
  • hold individual or group consultations with students
  • develop writing prompts or assignments
  • provide written feedback about student projects
  • develop reusable online modules related to research

There are many possibilities for how a GRC might spend their 30 hours to support the students in their research.  GRCs should enable the instructor to require more demanding research and creative projects while providing more support for the students as they pursue their projects.

 

Application Deadlines

All applications received by the following deadlines will receive full consideration:

  • For fall classes: July 15
  • For spring classes: December 1

We do not currently offer GRCs for summer courses.

 

Eligibility

All undergraduate KU courses are eligible to receive a GRC, including classes from across the disciplines of sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and professional schools.  Classes of any size, and at any level (introductory to advanced), are eligible.  The instructor of record for any KU course is eligible to apply to have a GRC for his/her course. 

Any KU graduate student or post doctoral researcher is eligible to be a GRC.  A graduate student can be a GTA and a GRC in the same semester and for the same course.  However, their roles as a GRC and a GTA should be clearly defined, and their duties as a GRC should be in addition to their normal duties as a GTA.  If the graduate student is the main instructor of the class, s/he would not be able to also be the GRC for that course.  If you have any questions about your eligibility, please email us at cur@ku.edu.

Application Process

Instructors and potential GRCs interested in participating in the Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) program should complete the following steps:

  1. Identify a partner: Instructors interested in having a GRC for their class should first identify a graduate student or post doctoral researcher who has the research expertise necessary to assist with the research project.  Keep in mind that this might include locating a graduate student from another department.  Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in being a GRC should approach an instructor who teaches a class that might utilize his/her research interests.  Once you find a partner, the instructor and graduate student/postdoctoral researcher can work on the application together.  If you would like assistance finding either a GRC or an instructor of record to partner with, fill out the GRC Interest List form and staff with the Center for Undergraduate Research will try to help you find a partner.
  2. Fill out the online application: To apply, fill out the GRC Application Form.  You can preview the application here.  Please note that you will not be able to save your answers before submitting, so you might write your answers in a separate document before starting the application. Submissions must be received by the deadline to be considered for funding.

Evaluation Criteria

GRC applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Merit and impact of the proposed project.
  • Degree to which students are challenged beyond normal research requirements for students at that level or in that major.
  • Feasibility of the project within the 30 hours expected of the GRC.
  • Qualifications of the GRC.
  • Potential for outcomes-based assessment, based on the final research product/presentation and the identified learning outcomes.

Application Questions

Questions about the GRC program or how to apply?

  • Send us an email
  • Make an appointment: Center staff would be happy to meet with you to generate ideas for a GRC project and answer any questions.  Simply send us an email to schedule an appointment.

All applicants will be notified about the status of their application after final GRC decisions are made, about a month after the application deadline.

Example Courses

All undergraduate KU courses are eligible to receive a GRC, including classes from across the disciplines of sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and professional schools.  Classes of any size, and at any level (introductory to advanced), are eligible.

Interested in getting ideas about how to effectively incorporate a GRC into your class?  Check out our GRC Tips document (pdf) to get some advice based on past GRC experiences.

 

Here are a few examples of GRC courses at KU:

Course Students  GRC Project Final GRC Reports
BIOL 415: Field and Lab Methods in Ecology 21 Students designed, conducted, and presented an independent research project as part of the course.  The GRC designed assignments, met individually with students, and provided written feedback on projects. BIOL 415 Report (pdf)
BIOL 688: Molecular Biology of Cancer 50 The GRC facilitated three out-of-class, extra-credit sessions where students learned to read and present scientific research articles that focused on cancer research. BIOL 688 Report (pdf)
COMS 555: Family Communication 31 The GRC facilitated class activities, met with students individually, and organized an end-of-term poster session where students could present results from a semester-long quantitative research project analyzing sibling communication and technology use. COMS 555 Report (pdf)
FMS/LAA 177: Latin American Documentary 7 The GRC designed assignments and class activities to help students on their research projects, which included individual papers on a documentary of their choice and group presentations about common themes. FMS/LAA 177 Report (pdf)
HA 593: Special Study in Medieval Art: Medieval Manuscripts 8

The GRC provided feedback to students on a series of scaffolded assignments—two three-page papers; a five-minute initial research project presentation; thesis statement; one-page outline; ten-page draft of the final paper; and the final ten-minute presentation—aimed to assist students in writing their final research papers and presentations.

HA 593 report (pdf)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a graduate student be a GTA and a GRC for the same class?

Yes. However, their roles as a GRC and a GTA should be clearly defined, and their duties as a GRC should be in addition to their normal duties as a GTA.  If the graduate student is the main instructor of the class, s/he would not be able to also be the GRC for that course (i.e. the "instructor" and the "GRC" have to be different people).

I'm interested, but don't have a grad student/ faculty member to partner with. Can your office help?

Go ahead and fill out the GRC Interest List Form, and we will do our best to help facilitate a match for you. However, your best bet is to start talking with faculty members and grad students to see if you can find someone who would be interested; we typically have many more graduate students sign up for the interest list than we do faculty.  Most GRC/ faculty connections are made through informal networking.

I need some help coming up with ideas for a GRC project. Can you help with this?

Yes. Email us at cur@ku.edu to set up a time to brainstorm ideas for a GRC project.

These questions might also spark some ideas for you:

  • What does it mean to "think like a [historian, biologist, dancer, etc.]"?  How do people in your discipline "do research"?  How is this different than the typical undergraduate classroom experience in your department?
  • Which parts of the research process are particularly challenging for students?  How could you provide more support for students in these key areas?
  • Which parts of the research process are most important for students to learn at this point in their academic career (i.e. first-year courses vs. a senior capstone)?  Discussions with faculty who teach any prerequisite classes and classes that come "downstream" from your class might help you clarify this.
  • What is feasible to do within the 30 recommended GRC hours for the number of students in the class and their level of preparation?

Does the instructor of the class have to be a faculty member to be eligible for a GRC?

No. Any instructor of record for an undergraduate class is eligible to have a GRC, whether that person is a faculty member, a lecturer, or a graduate student.

Are online classes eligible for GRCs?

Yes. A GRC for an online class would perform a similar role to other GRCs, the format of their interactions with students would just look different.

Can GRCs grade final assignments?

No, grading should not be a part of the GRC role. The purpose of the GRC is to serve as a consultant to the students in the class about the project and/or work with the professor to develop the project. While GRCs might give feedback to students about the project, they should not actually assign a grade under their role as a GRC.

Can someone be a GRC more than once? Can an instructor have a GRC more than once?

Yes to both. We do not have any limits on the number of times someone can be a GRC or the number of times an instructor can have a GRC for a class.

Expectations

Instructor/GRC pairs who are selected for funding will be asked to do the following:

Preparation. The GRC will attend a half-day workshop just before the start of the semester.  This workshop will focus on effective research mentoring strategies and evaluation of learning outcomes.  The GRC will develop a plan to assess the learning outcomes of the research project at this workshop, and will then work with the instructor to finalize the research assignment, implementation plan, and evaluation methods.

Implementation. The GRC and instructor will work together to decide how to best facilitate the research projects in the class.  GRCs will provide their research expertise and mentoring skills to support the students as they pursue their projects.  Students in GRC courses must have some kind of public presentation of their research, such as a class presentation, a work of art, a website, etc.

Evaluation. The GRC will evaluate the final product of the research using the evaluation criteria established at the beginning of the semester.  GRCs will provide a short (~4 page) report to the Center for Undergraduate Research evaluating student learning.  Note: GRCs do NOT grade the students' work directly.  All decisions about grades should be made by the instructor.

Dissemination. Though not required, the Center for Undergraduate Research will ask permission to post the end-of-semester reports on our Blackboard site so future instructor/GRC pairs can learn from your experiences.  We also encourage GRCs to include this report in their teaching portfolios.  Instructor/GRC pairs should consider presenting their experiences to their peers through such venues as a departmental colloquium, the Center for Teaching Excellence Teaching Summit, or a disciplinary conference.


GRC Quick Links

Submit Your GRC Application

Deadline for Fall 2015: 5 pm, July 15, 2015


Need help finding a GRC or instructor to partner with?  Fill out our GRC Interest List form, and we'll help facilitate a match!

Connect With Us
Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
The Research Experience Program has certified more than 2,000 students since 2005
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
More than 150 mentors sponsored undergraduate projects through the Center for Undergraduate Research each year
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Highlight your research on your transcript: Get certified through the Research Experience Program
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined