The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

Rarely do undergraduates fully comprehend the amount of time a quality research project will consume. Requiring a series of assignments linked to the steps of the research process and having firm deadlines throughout the semester encourages students to focus on the task at hand and remain on track rather than getting overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of the entire process. The use of in-class discussions and one-on-one meetings present an opportunity to reinforce the need for a dedicated effort. For courses in which the entire focus is the research project (such as the capstone course described in the case study accompanying this chapter), class time should only be used for group activities and discussion. More emphasis should be placed on the one-on-one meetings. Keeping students on task in courses that contain an undergraduate research component as an addition to course content can be more difficult as the focus of the class is primarily on topical material. In such cases, short student presentations designed to provide evidence of progress can be used to keep students on task and remind them of the next stages of the research process.