Engaging Undergraduates in Science Research: Not Just About Faculty Willingness

Res High Educ. 2011 Mar;52(2):151-177. doi: 10.1007/s11162-010-9189-9. Epub 2010 Oct 29.


Despite the many benefits of involving undergraduates in research and the growing number of undergraduate research programs, few scholars have investigated the factors that affect faculty members' decisions to involve undergraduates in their research projects. We investigated the individual factors and institutional contexts that predict faculty members' likelihood of engaging undergraduates in their research project(s). Using data from the Higher Education Research Institute's 2007-2008 Faculty Survey, we employ hierarchical generalized linear modeling to analyze data from 4,832 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty across 194 institutions to examine how organizational citizenship behavior theory and social exchange theory relate to mentoring students in research. Key findings show that faculty who work in the life sciences and those who receive government funding for their research are more likely to involve undergraduates in their research project(s). In addition, faculty at liberal arts or historically Black colleges are significantly more likely to involve undergraduate students in research. Implications for advancing undergraduate research opportunities are discussed.