Undergraduate Research Activity (URA) has been shown to add value to numerous higher education programs, driving improvements in course learning, campus engagement, and college retention. Yet, URA opportunities disproportionately accrue to higher-achieving students, upperclassmen, and STEM majors, even as prior research has shown positive effects for underclassmen, individuals at less elite institutions, and social science majors. Criminal justice students specifically may enjoy academic and career benefits from URA. This paper reports on the evaluation of a multi-stage, student-led primary research project assigned during an introductory criminal justice course; beyond demonstrating project feasibility, we identify the specific challenges faced by underclassmen in conducting research, and capture the effects of URA on students’ research confidence using both closed- and open-ended reflections. A majority of students reported increased confidence for every research skill practiced throughout the semester. Still, qualitative data showed students continue to struggle with the social aspects of primary research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes