ABSTRACT

One model for engaging undergraduates in the high-impact practice of research is for a central university-wide office to serve as a “clearinghouse” for advising students and connecting them with research and creative activity. The efficacy of such offices is an open question. Frequently, clearinghouse-style offices do not organize or conduct research projects themselves; thus, they are not always able to assess and evaluate students’ ultimate research outcomes, particularly if students become engaged in research outside of coursework or formal channels. This in turn creates a “challenge of the count” for research offices interested in assessing campus-wide research engagement and the effectiveness of their advising services. The present study evaluates the practice and outcomes of clearinghouse research offices using a comprehensive description of undergraduate research that mitigates data deficiencies. This dataset was then used to analyze the ultimate research outcomes for the cohort of students that matriculated in 2014 and assess the clearinghouse-style advising intervention. Students who underwent advising were significantly more likely to conduct research compared to those who did not undergo advising, and research office engagement was associated with higher rates of conference presentations and publications. These outcomes suggest a key role for clearinghouse undergraduate research offices.

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