Why is undergraduate research important?

ACU is a university where scholarly activity and innovation are valued and encouraged. Allowing our students to participate in undergraduate research engages their intellectual curiosity, satisfies their thirst for discovery, and gives them an outlet for their creativity.

A lot of learning occurs when undergraduate students do research – learning that does not happen during traditional coursework. Classroom knowledge is reinforced and more completely assimilated when students are given the opportunity to apply that knowledge.

Research invariably leads to a better understanding of and a deeper appreciation for the discipline under investigation. Students' career goals are usually clarified after they participate in research. How do you know you will enjoy being a biologist, for example, without getting a chance to do some of the thinking, researching and writing that a biologist does?

Research is also a significant confidence booster. The more students are mentally stretched (wrestling with surprising results or unanswered questions or pertinence to previous studies), the greater their sense of accomplishment upon completion of the project. This is especially true when a caring faculty member guides and encourages the students.

Establishing a relationship with a faculty mentor is another big advantage of undergraduate participation in research. It has been shown to increase retention and graduation rates. Students benefit from the wisdom, knowledge and experience of a mentor, while faculty members benefit from the questions students ask, the discoveries they make and the energy they bring to the project.

Of course, scholarly activity also helps make undergraduates' résumés more attractive to graduate schools and prospective employers, and gives faculty mentors the ability to write more detailed letters of recommendation.