The Benefits of Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research and creative scholarship activities represent one of the stronger examples of a high-impact learning practice that can advance the key characteristics of the University’s mission.  Mentored research, in which students and faculty work together to discover new knowledge, apply it to their discipline, and share it locally, nationally, and globally, is instrumental in helping individuals think analytically, question critically, and discover the enduring joy of inquiry.  Undergraduate research simultaneously strengthens undergraduate education; provides additional outlets for faculty to teach, research, and serve; and fosters the creation of a community of scholars that is essential to the intellectual health of the university.

Benefits for Students

Undergraduate research is recognized as a high-impact learning practice (Kuh, 2008) by the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise) initiative. Students who participate in undergraduate research experience many benefits including increased persistence (Nagda et al., 1998); increased interest in, and pursuit of entrance into, graduate school (Hathaway et al., 2002; Kremer and Bringle, 1990); higher gains in research skills including gathering and analyzing data and speaking effectively (Bauer and Bennett, 2003); and gains in professional advancement, professional development, and personal development (Seymour et al., 2004; Lopatto, 2006). Additionally, undergraduate research has shown to be particularly effective at increasing retention amongst, and opening career pathways for, minority and underrepresented populations (Nagda et al., 1998).

Next – Assessment of Undergraduate Research

References

Bauer, K.W., & Bennett, J.S. (2003). Alumni perceptions used to assess undergraduate research experience.  Journal of Higher Education, 74, 210-230.

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.

Kremer, J.F., & Bringle, R.G. (1990). The effects of an intensive research experience on the careers of talented undergraduates.  Journal of Research Development Education, 24, 1-5.

Kuh, G.D. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. AAC&U, Washington, D.C.

Lopatto, D. (2006) Undergraduate research as a catalyst for liberal learning. Peer Review. 8 (1), 22-25.

Nagda, B., Gregerman, S., Jonides, J., von Hippel, W., & Lerner, JS. (1998). Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Partnerships Affect Student Retention.  Review of Higher Education, 22, 55-72.

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, 88 (4): 493-534.