The program will start with five undergraduate mentees and five faculty mentors with the goal that the program grows over the next several years.
Starting in fall 2021, undergraduate students studying in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business will have a unique opportunity to participate in faculty-mentored research thanks to a new research initiative funded by both Rawls College and the Texas Tech Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences (TrUE). The Rawls Undergraduate Research Program will connect students and faculty in one-to-one pairs to conduct research, analyze data and present the results.
Within an academic setting, research is a valuable and important experience for students, but it's one that can be hard to find for undergraduate business students. The Rawls Undergraduate Research Program gives Rawls College students the chance to develop a variety of skills that employers and graduate programs value, including communication, problem-solving and project management. Developing these in-demand skills can increase the students' ability to be competitive with graduate admissions programs or in the job market.
“These skills are important for everyone no matter their ultimate career goal,” said Margaret Williams, dean of Rawls College. “I recently spoke with a former CEO of a Fortune 100 company who is now in his 70s. He shared a story of a research project he completed as an undergraduate at least 50 years ago. He remembered the project, how he collected data, and the conclusions of the study. I am excited the college now has a program to provide these kinds of experiences for students while simultaneously supporting our faculty's research objectives.”
The newly established Rawls Undergraduate Research Program is just another way Rawls College looks to advance its mission as a comprehensive, research-based business school.
“We expect every student to engage in transformational educational experiences,” said Williams. “Being involved in faculty research projects requires students to formulate interesting questions that address the question of ‘why,' to learn how to gather evidence to address those questions, to evaluate evidence, and to draw conclusions based on data.”
The program can give undergraduate students a preview of the type of research they can expect from a doctoral program.
“This program is designed to enhance the overall student experience at Rawls,” said Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research; James L. Johnson Chair in Business Administration, Mayukh Dass.
“The program will support undergraduates who are interested in advancing their research acumen and prepares them for graduate level education.”
Each undergraduate research mentee that is selected for the competitive program will earn a $1,000 scholarship each semester of the program while also gaining hands-on and meaningful experience conducting research in an academic setting. Undergraduate research mentees can expect to dedicate at least 10-12 hours per week on their project during the fall and spring semesters.
Throughout the semester, mentees will have an opportunity to build important professional relationships with like-minded students and mentors and attend research skill-building workshops on an array of topics including research methodology, data management, and data visualization. At the end of their project, mentees will gain valuable presentation experience as they present their research at the spring TTU Undergraduate Research Conference.
“We hope that the experience in the program will excite them to pursue a PhD in business in the future,” said Dass.
At the center of the project's success will be faculty mentors who ultimately orient their mentees to the research project and guide their mentee to completion. Similar to the mentees, faculty who join the Rawls Undergraduate Research Program as mentors will receive $1,000 in research support each semester.
The unique mentorship aspect of the Rawls Undergraduate Research Program is designed to be mutually beneficial for both the mentor and mentee of the research project. Student mentees gain hands-on research experience in an academic setting, ideal for any student preparing to apply for graduate school. Faculty mentors not only get practical research support, but students will in all likelihood come to these projects fresh insight and genuine inquiry and interest to the faculty's area of study.
Faculty interested in serving as mentors in the Rawls Undergraduate Research Program should apply by August 15, 2021. Applications for students to apply to be mentees will open August 25, 2021.