National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honors Education: Proceedings of the Second Schreyer National Conference 2001, ed. Josephine M. Carubia & Renata S. Engel. Copyright © 2004 The National Collegiate Honors Council.


This article addresses the benefits of undergraduate research to students, to faculty, and to universities. Research experiences are credited with increasing motivation for learning, helping undergraduate students decide on a career path, forming mentoring relationships between students and faculty, and improving student performance in writing, speaking, and working in teams. For many students, research experiences are their most memorable experiences as undergraduates. From the perspective of universities, students bring enthusiasm to research teams and often ask insightful questions-sometimes quite by accident-that can change the ways faculty approach research inquiries. Student researchers contribute to the world of knowledge. Research universities have distinct advantages in offering undergraduate research opportunities. For example, research and education strongly complement each other. Undergraduate students benefit from the libraries, laboratories, and computers that support faculty research and graduate education. Our experience at Penn State indicates that offering research opportunities to undergraduate students is an educational activity that doesn't cost large sums of money, although it does require substantial commitments of faculty time. Offering undergraduate research is a valuable recruiting tool, especially for academically gifted students. Several examples of undergraduate research at Penn State are included, for students in a variety of academic disciplines.