Purpose: The purpose of this paper's novel, research-oriented approach is to embed research-based activities in a core second-year course of a university business degree program to support and develop student research capabilities. Design/methodology/approach: The design draws on Boud and Prosser's work to foster participation in a learner-centred, discipline-based approach. Activities rely on technology supports and mixed delivery modes to combine diverse theoretical perspectives and research methodologies. Findings: The initial implementations of the design generated improved student learning experiences compared to the previous year. Voluntary participation was high and informal evidence suggested that research activities were a core-contributing element to positive student outcomes. Research limitations/implications: A formal evaluation study is required to measure precisely the extent to which research activities like those described in this paper have an effect on students' learning experiences. Practical implications: The research activities embedded in the course curriculum enriched learner participation and experiences without overtaxing resources and, with minor modification, are transferable to different courses and disciplines. Social implications: The technology-supported environment described in this study allowed for online viewing of submitted research activities and provided students the opportunity to continually review, reflect and share their insights. Originality/value: Learner-focused research activities offer students a novel opportunity to experience research firsthand as informants, inventors and interpreters of knowledge. The adoption of research activities within the curriculum structure is a creative and multifaceted effort to extend students' research understanding.