Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative

The College of Education’s Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative (also known as Summer Scholar Research Grants) is in place to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to propose and pursue advanced undergraduate research projects during the summer months over the duration of eight weeks. 

This program seeks to emphasize individual curiosity and initiative, intellectual ambition, and scholarly work conducted individually or in groups. Each project requires a College of Education faculty mentor. Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to students whose applications demonstrate a sound conception of the proposed work and evidence of the interest and ability to complete the project successfully.

There are two summer undergraduate research tracks:

  • Track 1: 20 hours/week over eight weeks
  • Track 2: 10 hours/week over eight weeks 

Projects are limited to a maximum of two students and two faculty mentors per project.

Stipends for the Undergraduate Researchers

Undergraduate researchers will receive a stipend of $15/hour with the possibility to earn credit within their major. 

Stipends for Faculty

The available faculty stipend for each track is:

  • Track 1 (20 hours/week over eight weeks): $2,000 total to provide mentorship to an undergraduate student researcher (or researchers)
  • Track 2 (10 hours/week over eight weeks): $1,000 total to provide mentorship to an undergraduate student researcher (or researchers)

The stipends listed are the maximum available for a faculty mentor on a single project. If faculty work as a team (maximum of 2), the stipend must be split

Faculty mentors should provide support through completion of the researcher's final report and public presentation. 

Applications for Summer 2024 are due May 9, 2024.

Apply Now

About the Summer Scholar Research Grant Awards

  • Applicant shall be a currently enrolled undergraduate student who will continue working towards a bachelor’s degree at Towson University in the fall semester following completion of the summer project.
  • Applicant shall complete and submit all portions of the application by the due date.
  • Applicant shall agree to meet all responsibilities of the award.
  • The project shall not be part of a regular class assignment for the student’s major or minor, though it could build from a project which originated in a regular course offering.
  • Awards are in 10 hour/week increments, with 10 hours per week the minimum and 20 hours per week the maximum. Undergraduate researchers shall devote the appropriate time awarded per week for a total of eight weeks.
  • Participating students may enroll in a maximum of only one three or four-credit summer courses and agree to make no commitment to other fixed work obligations (whether as employment, internship, or as a volunteer) for more than 10-hours per week while conducting summer research. However, an undergraduate student applicant and faculty mentor may apply for exemption to the summer course enrollment and 10-hour /week work obligation limits to address extenuating circumstances (e.g., addressing course prerequisites, EMPOWER program, etc.). The request should address why the applicant needs the exemption and how both the student and faculty mentor can still fulfill the requirements of the summer research with the added course credits and/or other work obligations. Please also see Note 2 in the "Special Considerations" section on the incorporation of volunteer work as part of the project.
  • Summer undergraduate researchers shall provide a written report to the faculty mentor for review and an electronic copy of the final version of this report to the COE Dean’s Office in Hawkins Hall by September 30. Although no minimum length for this report will be specified, it should reflect a scope of research and writing associated with the time invested. In doing so, each participating student agrees that the report may be posted on a college or university website to share the academic outcomes and successes of the Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative.
  • Student researcher shall provide a public presentation of the results of the project work within an existing context for student research presentations or at an event created for the purpose of this presentation by the second Friday of October of the award calendar year.
  • Student researcher shall complete any requested informational surveys connected with their project.
  • The faculty mentor is expected to work directly and communicate a minimum of three times a week during the award period to advise the student and to assess progress.
  • The faculty mentor is responsible for reviewing the final report before it is submitted to the COE Dean’s Office in Hawkins Hall and confirming that the terms of the grant are fulfilled regarding time spent on research and outcomes.
  • If project results are part of a group or faculty-led faculty project, the student researchers should receive co-author credit. If, after the completion of the project, the faculty member does not feel that such credit is earned, an exception must be granted by the department chair and Chair of the COE Faculty Development and Research Committee (FDRC).
  • Each student receiving a summer undergraduate research award will be paid an hourly rate of $15/hour.
  • The faculty advisor will be asked to certify that the student has completed a project in line with the proposal made during the application process, accomplished work appropriate to the time commitment associated with the grant and delivered a written report/analysis or creative product (as applicable) and made a public presentation on the project.
  • It is the responsibility of both the student researcher and faculty mentor to make a positive affirmation of the expectations of the summer research project.
  • Note 1: If additional funds are available, limited funds of $200 may be available to the student for supplies, in addition to the stipend. A budget and explanation of need and purpose of materials for the project will be required at the time of application.
  • Note 2: In some instances, a case may be made that voluntary engagements in the community or with an organization are part of a research process. It is the responsibility of the student to make a credible case in proposing a project that this engagement is essential to the research, that the research aspects of the project are fully and substantively defined, and that the result of the project will be a meaningful research report meeting the scholarly, theoretical, and analytical standards of the project’s discipline. The proposal must also establish the maximum number of hours per week that would be devoted to volunteer engagements and the time committed to scholarly research and analysis.
  • A description of the project
  • A brief narrative of the background literature with relevant references
  • Strategies to be used or methods for conducting the research project
  • The student's background or preparation for the project
  • Schedule of work planned 
  • If students are working as part of a group, the individual student’s role, expected contributions, and benefits shall be clearly delineated. An additional paragraph describing each member of the group’s role, including faculty if a faculty-led project, must be submitted with the application.
  • If an exemption to the summer course enrollment and 10-hour/week work obligation limit is needed, explain why the exemption is needed and how both the student researcher and faculty mentor will fulfill all requirements of the research.
  • Evidence of IRB or IACUC approval or status, if applicable.
  • Applications must be submitted by May 9th

2022 Award Winners

Adetokunbo Adekoga 
Faculty Mentor: Qing Li, LTDM 
Computer Science Education and Marginalized Learners: A Focus on Pre-service Teachers 
Adetokunbo worked with Dr. Li to research computer science education related to underserved and marginalized groups with a focus on pre-service teachers. During this project, she learned how to conduct systematic review research about computer science with a focus on marginalized pre-service teachers. This project is important because, as a Nigerian American pre-service teacher interested in computer science, Adetokunbo has not seen many pre-service teachers who look like her pursuing an educational degree while learning about computer science.

Viktorria McCormick 
Faculty Mentor: Qing Li , LTDM 
Promoting Equity with Marginalized Learners through Enhanced Computational Thinking Skills 
Viktorria worked with Dr. Qing Li to learn about equity in computing education and analyze how underrepresented groups, such as pre-K and elementary-aged girls, benefit from activities and curricula designed to enhance computational thinking skills. Along with Viktorria’s own experience in educating young girls computational thinking in the Girls Who Code club, this research has benefited those in the education field, including herself, as the project allows further understanding as to what computational thinking is, how it can be successfully integrated into learning environments, and how equity is cultivated through this method of learning. 

Melissa Perla
Faculty Mentors: Pamela Hickey, ELED and Vicky McQuitty, ELED
Inviting Code-meshing into Children’s Writing  

This project focused on code-meshing, the process of using two or more languages in one piece of writing. Experts recommend that teachers encourage multilingual students to code-mesh, but it is often treated as "something nice" that we do for students who are learning English. In our study, we analyzed 27 published children's books that used code-meshing. We analyzed how code-meshing impacted each story and the reader's experience with the book. 

Previous Award Winners

student Name faculty mentor project title Year
Ariana Bennaim Rachel Billman 
Computational Thinking and Special Education Teacher Preparation 2021
Joshua Betz Jenny Kouo 
Piloting and Iteration of the Comprehensive Autism Resource Environment (CARE) Application in the Pediatric Emergency Department 2021
AJ Malicdem Perpie Liwanag
Critical Analysis of Pre-service Teachers Global/Multicultural Text Set Projects 2021
Amy Penn Pamela Hickey and Vicki McQuitty
Writing Conferences with Linguistically Diverse Elementary Students 2021
Taylor Brown and Brianna Staples Jenny Kouo
Teacher Candidates Preparation through Syllabi Research and Strengthening the Alignment of Curriculum/Methods of Instruction for Students with Disabilities (PreK-12) and Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability 2020
Alexis Hahn and Sarah Morton Jenny Kouo
Supporting Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Engineering: Building an Inclusive Curriculum that Cultivates Engineering Dispositions and Other Collateral Skills 2020
Laura Eichhorn and Jenna Jaeger Brian Miller
Sentiment Analysis of Educational Textbooks 2020
Ember Hannesson and Brianna Staples Perpie Liwanag
The Use of Global & Multicultural Literature to Enhance the Teaching of Literacy 2020