Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) Program

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OUR encourages and supports instructors who want to transform course projects or assignments into research projects, thereby creating research-exposure courses.

Research-exposure courses require the completion of at least one course assignment which is a fully-realized research project. In such a project, students will pose a research question appropriate to the academic discipline and the level of the course, use methods acceptable in the discipline to answer those questions, and formally communicate their findings to others. The communication of findings might be via a class presentation, a poster session, a website, or other relevant communication activity.

Faculty teaching research-exposure courses may apply for Graduate Research Consultants (GRCs) to work with the instructor and the students during the concentrated period of the course when the students are planning, carrying out and communicating their research. The GRCs are expected to work 30 hours over the course of the semester and are paid $750 through the Office for Undergraduate Research (OUR). GRCs coach and advise the undergraduate researchers; they do not grade or evaluate student work.

You can participate in the GRC program as the Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) for a specific undergraduate course. Since the individual faculty members find and select the GRC for their courses, you can encourage a faculty member in your department to submit a GRC course proposal for a new or existing course and offer to be the GRC for the course if the proposal is funded. In addition, you may register your interest with OUR and the GRC Program by submitting the online GRC Interest Form. This will place your name in the GRC Interest Database, where faculty may search for possible GRCs.

If you are the instructor of record for an undergraduate course and have been a GRC in a previous semester, you are eligible to apply for a GRC to assist you if you are planning to teach a research-exposure course. Since the start of the program in 2003, a significant number of graduate students have participated as GRCs in the program (See the latest statistics). An increasing number of those graduate students have begun to request GRCs for their courses to support research components they have developed for those courses.

If you are selected to serve as a GRC, the faculty member will communicate your name to OUR staff. During the first month of the semester, you will receive a communication from OUR asking you to provide the information we need to process your stipend, which will be paid through the UNCTIM payroll system in November or March. Students will be paid 10 hours per week consecutively over a three-week period following the university’s biweekly pay schedule. This will mean that you will receive your pay in two installments. Please be aware that some fellowships and other funding sources do not permit recipients to engage in additional paid work; it is your responsibility to determine if you are able to receive funding as a GRC.

  • I wouldn’t have done the project without a GRC and in particular it worked very well to have his expertise in survey research because I’m not an expert on survey methods. So he was able to describe various scales and talk about different kinds of question in a way that I couldn’t have done. So I appreciated that.
    — Faculty member

There are several ways in which a GRC is different from a TA. The major difference is that a GRC “coaches” students, but does not grade their work. Additionally, a GRC does not attend all of the class sessions. Instead, GRCs can be available for individual or group consultation outside of class hours or they might attend selected classes. A GRC can provide invaluable support for faculty and classes by guiding students through their research projects from beginning to end. They can help students learn particular research methodologies and be available for consultation throughout the semester. In very rare instances, a graduate student might serve as both a GRC and a TA, if the different roles in the course are clearly defined.

  • My experience as a GRC was exciting—to have a role in allowing students to develop their own field work…for me it was exciting to see how that might work and to see what kind of support you might need for that to be successful…it was rewarding for me. It was also challenging. It helped me to know, if I were to implement [a research component] in my own course in the future how I might go about structuring it.
    — Graduate Research Consultant
  • It was a great experience to work with undergrad students. It was fantastic to be able to see how the professor set up his class to include these group research projects. More than anything else, I saw a way of how to get undergrads involved in and excited about research.
    –Graduate Research Consultant
  • …I was really drawing on her [the GRC’s] expertise with having worked in this kind of project. Because I’m trained as a historian, I’m aware of a lot of methodologies, but I haven’t actually participated in—especially things that kind of bordered on empirical. She knows the literature a lot more in that regard. So it was invaluable to me to have somebody like that.
    –Faculty member
  • I think there’s always an advantage of having that graduate student/faculty collaboration on a class both for the role model potential and for somebody the students to feel there’s somebody else to go to besides the faculty member.
    –Faculty member

The GRC course examples provide details of how these courses were designed in several disciplines. You can also review the Database of GRC (Research-Exposure) Courses. Former GRCs who are instructors of record for an independent course and want to request a GRC, please see the GRC program for FAQs and an application.