Perceptions of the Value of Undergraduate Research: A Pilot Qualitative Study of Human Sciences Graduates


  • Authors’ Note: Nina Collins, EdD, CFCS, is a C.C. Wheeler Professor and Chair in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Bradley University. Dorothy Mitstifer, PhD, is Executive Director of Kappa Omicron Nu. Briana S. Nelson Goff, PhD, LCMFT, is an Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Human Ecology and an Associate Professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University. Shirley Hymon-Parker, PhD, is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Human Ecology and an Associate Research Director at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Please address correspondence to Nina Collins, Family and Consumer Sciences, Bradley University, 1501 West Bradley Avenue, Peoria, IL 61625; e-mail:


The purpose of this study was to assess the value of research from the perspective of alumni who completed an undergraduate research (UGR) project in family and consumer sciences. The sample included 16 participants from three institutions with similar missions but different structures. The interviewees’ responses were coded by the authors to develop an initial set of descriptors. The text was also coded using Ethnograph version 6.0. The findings revealed many more positive than negative responses in regard to attitudes, research skills, professionalism, value of the project to their current job, relationship with their undergraduate mentor, presentation of the research project, and suggestions for improvement. The most positive responses were in the categories of research skills attributed to the UGR (89%), value of the project to their job (87%), and faculty mentorship (81%). Overall, these findings support the benefits of UGR and the investment of university resources for research projects with faculty members for undergraduate students.