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Projects with Promise

Vol. 21 No. 4

Are College Graduates Ready for the 21st Century? Community-Engaged Research Can Help

December 12, 2017


Research is clear: Employers want college graduates who can communicate clearly, think analytically, and interact respectfully. Targeted educational experiences have measurably improved these capacities. To better prepare undergraduates, the University of Massachusetts Amherst developed the Community-Engaged Research Program, a pilot program featuring a cornerstone course. The course seeks to realize the goal of making research-based learning a standard in U.S. undergraduate education. Data from process evaluations, student assessments, and end-of-semester surveys show meaningful gains in students’ ability to think through the research process, communicate research findings, and respectfully address others’ needs. Recommendations for building a sustainable undergraduate research model are provided. With further institutional support, such courses could improve college graduate preparedness for the workforce.