New online courses prepare undergraduates for research roles

Image of a student working in a research lab. The Office of Undergraduate Research's mission is to serve as a central resource to promote and expand experiential learning for undergraduate students through research experiences with skilled research mentors.

A new series of online courses developed by the Office of Undergraduate Research are designed to prepare undergraduate students to take on projects involving research and creative endeavors, as well as to expose them to the diversity of scholarly activities being done on campus.

The series of one-credit online courses, available for all undergraduate students, were created as a way to engage undergraduate researchers across all disciplines and give students a better understanding of both how to conduct research and how to apply lessons learned during research to graduate school and professional careers.

“We knew that there was a need, across the university, to help students become better prepared for conducting research and creative endeavors,” says Amy Childress, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “We knew that the coursework had to be online and in a flexible format that could encompass the broad range of research being done on campus.”

The series’ initial course is designed to introduce students to the idea of becoming a researcher, and covers topics like how research is conducted across different disciplines and how to submit a research proposal. Subsequent courses are designed for students actively conducting research projects and cover topics like qualitative and quantitative research, how to give a poster presentation and how to find and apply for graduate school programs.

“The courses feature faculty from disciplines across campus who share their expertise and experiences with students and who can become a useful resource for students,” says J.J. Sadler, the Office of Undergraduate Research’s associate director.

Although the courses are online, Sadler says the courses were designed to help students establish a sense of community and expose them to the different terminology, methods and backgrounds that researchers use in various disciplines.

“One of our goals was for students to get a glimpse of the different types of research being done – whether one of the bench sciences, field research, humanities, computer programing – and how that research could impact their areas of interest,” says Sadler.

To build the courses, the Office of Undergraduate Research worked with Purdue Online senior instructional designer Tuhin Dey, who helped develop discussion boards, video lectures and self-assessments to keep students on track.

“I am not sure if the courses would be available if it weren’t for the critical instructional design collaboration and assistance that Dey provided; he has been an invaluable partner” said Childress. “Every time we had an idea, he would advise us what best practices we should consider and how to incorporate the available technology.  He was able to keep us on track, which saves us an enormous amount of time and effort.”

Visit the Office of Undergraduate Research’s online course page to learn more about available courses and how to register.

To learn more about how to get course design help or to talk to an instructional designer, contact or visit

Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998,

Last updated: August 22, 2019