Why Do Undergraduate Research?

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) launched a nationwide public advocacy and campus action initiative called Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) in 2005.  This initiative focuses on enabling college students to face the unique challenges of the twenty-first century.  Undergraduate Research is considered one of the LEAP High-Impact Practices (or HIPs) within the educational setting, engaging and challenging students so they can be successful in college as well as after graduation.

Undergraduate research experience is not only for science majors or those going on to graduate school.  At UW-Whitewater, students and faculty/staff mentors from most undergraduate departments participate in undergraduate research projects.

undergraduate participation

As this graph shows, 28 out of 31 undergraduate departments and programs at UW-Whitewater participated in the undergraduate research program from 2012—2015 (UWW Institutional Research and Planning).

Research (e.g., Brownell and Swaner, 2009; Kilgo and Pascarella, 2014) shows that students who participate in undergraduate research gain intellectual skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and research, as well as report more satisfaction with their overall educational experience, and are more likely to pursue graduate studies.

The graduation rates of students participating in undergraduate research are also consistently higher than the overall campus graduation rates (UWW Institutional Research and Planning).

graduation rates

Undergraduate research experience helps your success after graduating from college.  A 2009 survey of 302 employers by Hart Research Associates found that employers are increasingly looking for the following skills in their new hires:

  • Understanding of global context of situations and decisions (67%)
  • Understanding of global issues and developments and their implications (65%)
  • Communicating effectively, orally and in writing (89%)
  • Reasoning critically and analytically (81%)
  • Analyzing and solving complex problems (75%)
  • Collaborating with others in diverse group settings (71%)
  • Innovating and being creative (70%)
  • Locating organizing, and evaluating information from multiple sources (68%)
  • Working with numbers and understanding statistics (63%)
  • Applying knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships and hands-on experiences (79%)

You may not be able to gain all these skills in a traditional classroom setting, but you get to learn ALL of these skills if you participate in undergraduate research.

Interested to learn how you can get involved?  Contact the URP office.

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URP information

  • Andersen Library 2115
  • Common Office Hours:
  • M-F, 9 A.M. - 5 P.M.
  • Campus E-mail:  urp@uww.edu
  • Campus Phone:  (262) 472-1296

RAP information

  • Andersen Library 2122
  • Campus E-mail:  rap@uww.edu
  • Campus Phone:  (262) 472-1484

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