Undergraduate research

REAL Research and Creative Inquiry

Virginia Commonwealth University is committed to bringing the resources of a research institution to bear on student learning opportunities. A key component of this commitment is engaging our undergraduate students in research activities with an outstanding faculty, a central high impact educational practice of our Relevant Experiential and Applied Learning Initiative (REAL).

Learning by doing is a proven method of enhancing the educational experience. Whether by working with faculty in the areas of breast cancer, polymer-metal composites, understanding terrorism, or dispersal processes in forest systems, being involved in the creation of new knowledge is an exciting and rewarding experience for both students and faculty.

At VCU, undergraduate research takes place both inside and outside of the classroom and is defined as a mentored inquiry, investigation, or exploration conducted by an undergraduate student that involves critical reflection and communication of results, and aims to make an intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline or disciplines.

Creative inquiry is inquiry-based learning through which students engage in scholarly activities and thinking processes including: formulating questions or hypotheses, gathering evidence in a reproducible manner, drawing conclusions based on evidence and existing disciplinary/interdisciplinary knowledge, communicating results, and revising explanations or revisiting the conclusions based on feedback and critique. The goal is to learn skills and the research process, not necessarily to make an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.