Economics Examples

Here are examples of undergraduate research experiences in the social sciences that you can use as models for developing your own. You can also consider perusing examples from a wider range of disciplines. Each example includes learning goals, a context for use, a description of project needs, tips related to structuring and supporting the exercise, and means of assessment. Rather than search these by economic subject matter, consider and compare them as examples of forms of undergraduate research--remember that the goal of undergraduate research is the creation of knowledge. A project in, say, urban economics, may have a structure that lends itself well to an udnergradaute reearch experiences on a topic in an altogether different field.

Remember that some of the pedagogical practices described in other parts of Starting Point can be developed as undergraduate research experiences as well. Others can be considered supporting structures for undergraduate research.

Want to contribute your own example? Follow these steps for submitting an activity to Starting Point.

Class-based Activities

Naturalististic Observation

  • Taking Risks While Driving: Are There Sex Differences? - This example, developed for psychology, describes a study of the hypothesis that there are sex differences in risk-taking. Design ideas from this naturalistic obervation approach to undergraduate research can serve as the inspiration for similar tests of other hypotheses in economics.


Quantitative Writing Assignments


  • Who Gets Help? - This example from psychology describes a field experiment of the hypothesis that able-bodied individuals receive less help than those perceived to have an injury. The field experiment approach is one that can be considered in economics as well.

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Class-based Research Projects

Term Papers and Assignments

Service Learning, Community-based Learning, and Campus-based Learning

  • Using Census Data to Identify a Town's Housing Needs - In this service learning project for an elective course, students and faculty help a local non-profit identify area U.S. Census tracts most in need of its assistance in promoting decent and affordable homeownership. It serves as an example of an undergraduate research experience in which the research process is facilitated by a mixture of assignments, some requiring full-class collaboration and consensus, and others requiring small group and individual work.
  • The Effects of Condemned/Restored Homes on Surrounding Property Values - Here, students help a non-profit and their college's city understand some of neighborhood effects of condemned/restored homes. It is another example of a project mixing class decision-making with small group and individual activities.

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Independent Capstone and Honors Research Experiences

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Student/Faculty Collaborative Research

Summer Research Experiences

  • Summer Undergraduate Research Experience I - This example provides a framework for conducting summer undergraduate research with a student, with the ultimate goal being a faculty-student co-authored publication in a peer reviewed journal. A sample summer research grant proposal is included, along with a link to one such co-authored article.

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