What is the OURS program?
The Online Undergraduate Research Scholars (OURS) program is a multi-pronged initiative designed to create meaningful experiential learning and research experiences for ASU Online learners studying the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
The program is composed of four key components:
- A new introductory course, Foundations of Undergraduate Research, which involves mentoring students on professional research skills. Students can then apply this knowledge to hands-on research projects at the university or in their future careers.
- Providing scholarships to online students to support their academic or research interests.
- Providing seed funding to faculty to develop and launch group-based research courses for ASU Online learners that allow them to contribute to a research project or research question. These experiences may be offered in hybrid or remote formats.
- Organizing virtual and in-person events for online learners, such as research symposiums and professional development workshops.
Why was the program created?
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences created the OURS program to provide ASU Online learners with the extracurricular experiences necessary to stand out in their future endeavors, such as applying for graduate studies or taking the next steps in their careers.
“I think it's important to offer these research lab opportunities to online students because many of them want to move forward after they graduate,” said ASU lecturer Susan Holechek. “They want research internships. They’re applying to grad school. They’re applying to med school. Having hands-on experience, especially the way we do it in the context of real research projects, puts them ahead of the game.”
The OURS program brings a dynamic element to virtual learning. While some online courses include hands-on experiments through lab kits and virtual tours, the OURS program provides an enhanced experience to better prepare learners for graduate school and their careers. When students are invited to participate in faculty-led research, they can gain skills such as:
- Communicating findings.
- Fundamental research skills.
- Interpreting data.
- Presentation skills.
- Writing about data.
Ara Austin, a clinical assistant professor and director of the OURS Program at The College, said the program is a really good way for students to gain technical skills that are very specific to their discipline while also gaining soft skills applicable to a number of roles.
“Research is not just learning one thing,” said Austin. “It’s more of an experience that teaches the process of gaining new knowledge and sharing it.”
Do I have to travel to campus to participate in the program?
No. The OURS program was designed specifically with ASU Online learners in mind. Because research includes more than just the physicality of conducting experiments, you can participate in a majority of the experiences remotely.
For a majority of the experiential learning opportunities, you’ll be able to participate remotely. However, some will require in-person attendance. There may also be additional in-person opportunities for those who live in the greater Phoenix area and have access to campus.