Developing a Gain-in-research-ability Test to Navigate and Assess Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences


  • Zhiyong Cheng UF
  • Kate Marris



gain in research ability test, course-based undergraduate research experiences, anticipated learning outcomes, assessment


Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) benefit student learning by providing accessible authentic research opportunities. However, the uniqueness of each disciple and variation in instructors’ perception of CUREs make it challenging to reach a consensus on how to effectively assess students’ research abilities in a CURE laboratory. To address this question, we developed a Gain in Research Ability Test (GRAT) based on seven areas of competencies in research (Identify, Question, Plan, Conduct, Analyze, Conclude, and Communicate). The GRAT framework orchestrates the learning objectives and research activities, providing a quantitative assessment of student learning outcomes. The GRAT scores before and after the interventions revealed a significant growth in students’ research abilities, consistent with students’ perception of the GRAT-navigated research experience. As the seven areas of competencies in research are commonly observed across disciplines, the GRAT framework circumvents disciplinary boundaries and sets universal milestones for the assessment of CURE. Future larger-scale and cross-discipline studies are warranted to explore the potential of GRAT to provide a common metric for substance and consistency in the assessment of students’ gain in research ability across disciplines.


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How to Cite

Cheng, Z., & Marris, K. (2024). Developing a Gain-in-research-ability Test to Navigate and Assess Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences . NACTA Journal, 68(1).