Involvement with research

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Provide opportunities for student involvement with research early on.

In the field of economics, undergraduate research opportunities can be used to attract underrepresented students as well as aid instructors. Students, once exposed to applications of economic concepts, may find the subject to be more attractive and therefore are more likely to pursue a career in the field. Instructors, through a more personal interaction with students, become more aware of student learning needs and therefore are able to apply this knowledge in the classroom. Please click here for more information concerning the benefits of undergraduate research opportunities.

Currently, there is little empirical evidence demonstrating the correlation between undergraduate research and higher rates of participation in the field of economics, but various studies have been conducted in the STEM fields (fields which, like economics, have relatively low rates of participation by underrepresented students). Empirical studies have demonstrated that undergraduate research opportunities attract and retain talented undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates) have increased minority student interest (Fitzsimmons, S.J. et al) and retention rates (Lopatto, D) (Kremer and Bringle) as well as graduate school matriculation rates (Hathaway, R.S. et al.) in STEM fields.

REUs have been strongly endorsed by major science organizations including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation as essential to advancing and enhancing student learning. Students are paired one-on-one with faculty research mentors to directly connect subject material learned in the classroom to current scientific inquiry. In so doing, students acquire and hone new laboratory and research skills such as “making use of primary literature, formulating research hypotheses, interpreting data, and communicating the results of research” (Kardash, 2000, 2004). REUs are particularly prized for the use of collaborative learning and inquiry-based learning as well as interdisciplinary focus.


  • Bauer, K.W., & Bennett, J.S. (2003). "Alumni perceptions used to assess undergraduate research experience". J. Higher Educ, 74 , 210-230.
  • Fitzsimmons, S.J., Carlson, K., Kerpelman, L.C., and Stoner, D. (1990). “A Preliminary Evaluation of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the National Science Foundation.” Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation.
  • Hathaway, R.S., Nagda, B.A., & Gregerman, S.R. (2002). "The relationship of undergraduate research participation to graduate and professional education pursuit: an empirical study". Journal of College Student Development , 43 , 614-631.
  • Kardash, C.M. (2000). "Evaluation of an undergraduate research experience: perceptions of undergraduate interns and their faculty mentors". Journal of Educational Psychology, 92 , 191-201.
  • Lopatto, D. (2004). "Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE): First Findings". Cell Biol Educ 3(4): 270-277 2004
  • Seymour, E., Hunter, A-B., Laursen, S.L., & DeAntoni, T. (2004). "Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: first findings from a three-year study". Science Education
  • Kremer, J.F., & Bringle, R.G. (1990). "The effects of an intensive research experience on the careers of talented undergraduates". Journal of Research and Development in Education, 24 , 1-5.
  • Kukreti, AR. (2007). “Research Experiences for Undergraduate Students in Structural Engineering” International Conference on Engineering Education – ICEEE 2007.