Applied Economics Teaching Resources

an AAEA Journal

Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Teaching and Educational Methods

Engaging Undergraduate Students in Research: From Cross-Discipline Programs to Published Articles

Gal Hochman(a) and Yanhong Jin(a)
(a)Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

JEL Codes: JEL Codes: A22, I26
Keywords: Cross-discipline programs, research outputs, skill training, undergraduate research

Publish Date: May 22, 2024

View Full Article (PDF)


This paper discusses the effective integration of undergraduate students into research, ensuring mutually beneficial outcomes for students, faculty, higher education institutes, and society at large. Student candidates are identified through a screening process leveraging the existing institutional resources and programs. Selection criteria, including minimum grade point average (GPA), strong writing skills, and achievements in challenging quantitative courses, are employed. Once a suitable candidate is identified, research collaboration commences. We work with the student to identify a topic aligned with our projects that piques their interest and curiosity, while ensuring feasibility within the timeframe. Subsequently, we invest a month or two in guiding the student through relevant literature, building a comprehensive understanding of the chosen subject matter. As the research question evolves, we assist the student in mastering the necessary tools and methods, providing relevant programming code or directing the student to specific knowledge domains. The structured approach mirrors the collaboration with graduate students. We deliberately avoid limiting our selection to specific disciplines, promoting diversity in student engagement. This exposure broadens their understanding of applied economics research and enriches the educational experience for both students and faculty mentors. The result is the cultivation of cross-disciplinary programs that contribute to the growth and development of undergraduate research.

About the Authors: Gal Hochman is a Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Yanhong Jin is a Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (Email: The authorship is listed alphabetically, and the seniority of the authorship is equally shared.

Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the invaluable contributions of undergraduate students engaged in their research projects, as well as the support provided by the programs for undergraduate research at Rutgers University.

Copyright is governed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA


Adedokun, O.A., M. Dyehouse, A. Bessenbacher, and W.D. Burgess. 2010. “Exploring Faculty Perceptions of the Benefits and Challenges of Mentoring Undergraduate Research.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver CO, April 30–May 4.

Ambos, E.L. 2020. “Undergraduate Research in the United States: Diversity, Growth, and Challenges.” International Perspectives on Undergraduate Research: Policy and Practice:19–38.

Ashcroft, J., J. Blatti, and V. Jaramillo. 2020. “Early Career Undergraduate Research as a Meaningful Academic Experience in Which Students Develop Professional Workforce Skills: A Community College Perspective.” In K.Y. Neiles, P.S. Mertz, and J. Fair, eds. Integrating Professional Skills into Undergraduate Chemistry Curricula. Washington DC: ACS   Publications, pp. 281–299.

Barlow, A.E., and M. Villarejo. 2004. “Making a Difference for Minorities: Evaluation of an Educational Enrichment Program.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 41:861–881.

Bauer, K.W., and J.S. Bennett. 2003. “Alumni Perceptions Used to Assess Undergraduate Research Experience.” The Journal of Higher Education 74:210–230.

Blanton, R.L., R. Taraban, and R. Blanton. 2008. “A Brief History of Undergraduate Research, with Consideration of Its Alternative Futures.” Creating Effective Undergraduate Research Programs in Science: The Transformation from Student to Scientist:233–246.

Carpenter, L., B. Nguyen, L. Davis, and S. Rowland. 2022. “The Undergraduate Research Experience as a Vehicle for Employability Development—The Student Participants Speak.” Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 50:65–74.

Carpi, A., D.M. Ronan, H.M. Falconer, and N.H. Lents. 2017. “Cultivating Minority Scientists: Undergraduate Research Increases Self‐Efficacy and Career Ambitions for Underrepresented Students in STEM.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 54:169–194.

Chang, M.J., J. Sharkness, S. Hurtado, and C.B. Newman. 2014. “What Matters in College for Retaining Aspiring Scientists and Engineers from Underrepresented Racial Groups.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 51:555–580.

Cole, D., and A. Espinoza. 2008. “Examining the Academic Success of Latino Students in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Majors.” Journal of College Student Development 49:285–300.

Davis, S.N., and R.M. Jones. 2020. “The Genesis, Evolution, and Influence of Undergraduate Research Mentoring Relationships.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 14:6.

Dolan, E.L., and D. Johnson. 2010. “The Undergraduate–Postgraduate–Faculty Triad: Unique Functions and Tensions Associated with Undergraduate Research Experiences at Research Universities.” CBE—Life Sciences Education                   9:543–553.

Eagan Jr., M.K., S. Hurtado, M.J. Chang, G.A. Garcia, F.A. Herrera, and J.C. Garibay. 2013. “Making a Difference in Science Education: The Impact of Undergraduate Research Programs.” American Educational Research Journal 50:683–713.

Hathaway, R.S., B.A. Nagda, and S.R. Gregerman. 2002. “The Relationship of Undergraduate Research Participation to Graduate and Professional Education Pursuit: An Empirical Study.” Journal of College Student Development 43:614– 631.

Hunter, A.B., S.L. Laursen, and E. Seymour. 2007. “Becoming a Scientist: The Role of Undergraduate Research in Students’ Cognitive, Personal, and Professional Development.” Science Education 91:36–74.

Jones, M.T., A.E. Barlow, and M. Villarejo. 2010. “Importance of Undergraduate Research for Minority Persistence and Achievement in Biology.” The Journal of Higher Education 81:82–115.

Junge, B, C. Quinones, J. Kakietek, D. Teodorescu, and P. Marsteller. 2010. "Promoting Undergraduate Interest, Preparedness, and Professional Pursuit in the Sciences: An Outcomes Evaluation of the SURE Program at Emory University." CBE—Life Sciences Education 9(2): 119-132.

Kinkead, J. 2003. “Learning Through Inquiry: An Overview of Undergraduate Research.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 93:5–17.

Kneale, P., A. Edwards-Jones, H. Walkington, and J. Hill. 2016. “Evaluating Undergraduate Research Conferences as Vehicles for Novice Researcher Development.” International Journal for Researcher Development 7:159–177.

Kuh, G., J. Kinzie, J. Buckley, B. Bridges, and J. Hayek. 2007. “Major Theoretical Perspectives on Student Success in College.” Piecing Together the Student Success Puzzle: Research, Propositions, and Recommendations: ASHE Higher Education Report 32:13–20.

Lee, S., and B. Bozeman. 2005. “The Impact of Research Collaboration on Scientific Productivity.” Social Studies of Science 35:673–702.

Linn, M.C., E. Palmer, A. Baranger, E. Gerard, and E. Stone. 2015. “Undergraduate Research Experiences: Impacts and Opportunities.” Science 347:1261757.

Little, C. 2020. “Undergraduate Research as a Student Engagement Springboard: Exploring the Longer-Term Reported Benefits of Participation in a Research Conference.” Educational Research 62:229–245.

Lopatto, D. 2003. “The Essential Features of Undergraduate Research.” Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly 24.

Lopatto, D. 2004. “Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE): First Findings.” Cell Biology Education 3:270–277.

Lopatto, D. 2007. “Undergraduate Research Experiences Support Science Career Decisions and Active Learning.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 6:297–306.

Lopatto, D. 2010. “Undergraduate Research as a High-Impact Student Experience.” Peer Review 12:27–31.

Mabrouk, P.A. 2009. “Survey Study Investigating the Significance of Conference Participation to Undergraduate Research Students.” Journal of Chemical Education 86:1335.

Maton, K.I., and F.A. Hrabowski III. 2004. “Increasing the Number of African American PhDs in the Sciences and Engineering A Strengths-Based Approach.” American Psychologist 59:547.

Maton, K.I., F.A. Hrabowski III, and C.L. Schmitt. 2000. “African American College Students Excelling in the Sciences: College and Postcollege Outcomes in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official   Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching 37:629–654.

McClure-Brenchley, K.J., K. Picardo, and J. Overton-Healy. 2020. “Beyond Learning: Leveraging Undergraduate Research into Marketable Workforce Skills.” Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 3:28–35. 

McKellar, Q. 2020. “Building a Culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Universities.” Higher Education in the Arab  World: Building a Culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship:95–107.

Morales, D.X., S.E. Grineski, and T.W. Collins. 2017. “Increasing Research Productivity in Undergraduate Research Experiences: Exploring Predictors of Collaborative Faculty–Student Publications.” CBE—Life Sciences Education                   16:ar42.

Nagda, B.A., S.R. Gregerman, J. Jonides, W. Von Hippel, and J.S. Lerner. 1998. “Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Partnerships Affect Student Retention.” The Review of Higher Education 22:55–72.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. 2019. Job Outlook 2019. Bethlehem PA.

National Association of Colleges and Employers. 2023. Job Outlook 2023. Bethlehem PA.

Nonnemacher, J., and S.W. Sokhey. 2022. “Learning by Doing: Using an Undergraduate Research Lab to Promote Diversity and Inclusion.” PS: Political Science & Politics 55:413–418.

Russell, S.H., M.P. Hancock, and J. McCullough. 2007. “Benefits of Undergraduate Research Experiences.” Science 316:548–549.

Ryder, J., J. Leach, and R. Driver. 1999. “Undergraduate Science Students’ Images of Science.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching 36:201–219.

Summers, M.F., and F.A. Hrabowski III. 2006. “Preparing Minority Scientists and Engineers.” Science 311:1870–1871.

Topor, R.S. 1986. Institutional Image: How to Define, Improve, Market It. Washington DC: Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Vaidyanathan, R.K., M. Mwavita, K.A. Bartosik, and P. Sarin. 2020. “Exposure of Undergraduate Research Students to Entrepreneurial Activities to Motivate Future Research Careers.” In 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. Available at Last access on April 10, 2024.

Webber, K.L., T.F. Nelson Laird, and A.M. BrckaLorenz. 2013. “Student and Faculty Member Engagement in Undergraduate Research.” Research in Higher Education 54:227–249.

White, K., R. Ward, M. Agarwal, T. Bennett, and K. Varahramyan. 2013. “Innovation to Enterprise: Undergraduate Researchers as Entrepreneurs.” Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly 34:12–18.

Whitmer, A., L. Ogden, J. Lawton, P. Sturner, P.M. Groffman, L. Schneider, D. Hart, B. Halpern, W. Schlesinger, and S. Raciti.  2010. “The Engaged University: Providing a Platform for Research That Transforms Society.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8:314–321.

Zydney, A.L., J.S. Bennett, A. Shahid, and K. Bauer. 2002a. “Faculty Perspectives Regarding the Undergraduate Research Experience in Science and Engineering.” Journal of Engineering Education 91:291–297.

Zydney, A.L., J.S. Bennett, A. Shahid, and K.W. Bauer. 2002b. “Impact of Undergraduate Research Experience in Engineering.” Journal of Engineering Education 91:151–157.