gms | German Medical Science

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018)

08.03. - 09.03.2018, München

Developing international networks of undergraduate inquirers in higher education

Meeting Abstract

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018). München, 08.-09.03.2018. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2018. Doc26

doi: 10.3205/18inhere26, urn:nbn:de:0183-18inhere267

Published: March 1, 2018

© 2018 Spronken-Smith et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Although there are some reports of international undergraduate research or inquiry-based initiatives, most involve students travelling to another country to do fieldwork. In this initiative – the Matariki Undergraduate Research Network (MURN), 20-30 undergraduate researchers across several countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom) was established. We aimed to explore the logistics, benefits and challenges of developing and implementing such a network.

Mixed methods were used to determine faculty and student experiences of the network. There was a survey of “student assessment of their learning gains” [1], (, a survey of faculty experiences, and collection of data through research diaries and conversations with students and faculty.

The network was developed quickly in a six-month period, assisted by a face-to-face meeting of programme leaders from each institution. Teaching in a global classroom was a unique aspect of this initiative, as undergraduates from a range of disciplines learnt about inquiry in higher education. Students were then supervised locally on projects relating to internationalisation of higher education.

The most challenging aspect of this initiative was teaching across time zones and academic year differences. All participants reported a range of benefits typical of engagement with inquiry-based learning, and faculty in particular enjoyed interacting with international colleagues. However, the students were disappointed there was not much interaction with their international peers, except for some who met at an international conference.

To develop a sustainable international network of inquirers we recommend a credit-bearing programme, partnering in similar time zones and academic years, requiring collaborative projects across institutions, letting students determine the best way to connect online, and providing a conference experience that brings the inquirers together.


Seymour E, Wiese D, Hunter AB, Daffinrud S. Creating a Better Mousetrap: On-line Student Assessment of their Learning Gains. Paper presentation at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. San Francisco, CA: American Chemical Society; 2000.