From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
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 to aid faculty research. Students exposed to applications of economic concepts may find the subject to be more attractive and therefore be more likely to pursue a career in the field. Instructors become more aware of student learning needs through a more personal interaction with individuals students and therefore are able to apply this knowledge in the classroom. Please click here for more information concerning the benefits of undergraduate research opportunities.
Faculty can incorporate student research through in-class activities, course projects, independent study, and research assistantships. For examples, visit Starting Point. The Economics Research Network, hosted by the University of Bristol, publishes a great Handbook for Economics Lecturers, which offers relevant chapters on Undergraduate Research in Economics, Undergraduate Dissertations in Economics, and Problem-Based Learning, by KimMarie McGoldrick, Peter Smith, and Frank Forsythe, respectively.
Currently, there is little empirical evidence demonstrating a correlation between use of undergraduate research at a college/ university 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 Experiences for Undergraduates) have increased minority student interest (Fitzsimmons, Carlson, Kerpelman and Stoner, 1990) and retention rates (Lopatto, 2004) (Kremer and Bringle, 1990) as well as graduate school matriculation rates (Hathaway, Nagda, and Gregerman, 2002) in STEM fields.
Programs like the American Economic Association's Summer Training and Minority Scholarship Program provide underrepresented undergraduate students with the opportunity to work closely with Economics faculty and to gain technical skills in economics. Such programs also generate valuable networking relationships with program leaders and other program participants. The AEA Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP) oversees and contributes its talents to the Summer Training Program.