(Dr. Kevin Jones sits down with his two student researchers. Left to right: Erika Standeven, Kevin Jones, Lauren Mucha)
In 2010, Social Work Professor Kevin Jones decided to get involved in undergraduate research. He hired a student to be his research assistant and to aid him in his projects. Little did he know that this choice would be extremely beneficial, not only for his student assistant, senior Lauren Mucha, but for himself too. There might be some hesitation from professors to participate in undergraduate research, but Prof. Jones is an advocate for undergraduate research and urges professors to look into it because, “there are undergrads willing to make a real contribution.”
Not only that, but Jones is certain he would not have been able to complete the projects as quickly or efficiently as he has without a student assistant. He attributes the efficiency to holding each other accountable for their duties.
“Accountability was big,” said Jones. “We held each other accountable; set goals and deadlines. The thing about working alone is that you aren’t held accountable if you don’t meet a deadline, but with Lauren there, I had to set a good example.”
The pair has spent three years together, which is not typical in undergraduate research as students normally work for about a year. Due to this extended time together, Lauren has been able to see a couple of different projects through to the end. The first project they worked on together was a conceptual one, which gave her the opportunity to write several sections of a manuscript, so much so that she was labeled co-author of a published academic article, Sustainability Assessment and Reporting for Nonprofit Organizations: Accountability “for the Public Good.” An undergraduate student with a publication under her belt “looks great on a resume,” said Prof. Jones.
Jones and Mucha cited many other benefits from undergraduate research, including more confidence. Students can prove that they have the brain power to make it this far but knowing and doing are two fundamentally different things altogether. Prof. Jones said that Lauren has always been a confident individual, but she has become more outgoing over the years. He noted an event where the pair went to Vancouver, B.C. for an international conference to present the conceptual study of their academic article.
He expressed that Lauren seemed very comfortable in front of the audience and even claimed that she did a better job than he. “Her part of the presentation was more compelling than mine,” Jones said.
Story by Terran Benedict