The Untapped “Data Mine”
Undergrad program draws upon vast wealth of previously underused research help
By Kathryn Herd
Information Systems and Business Analytics Clinical Assistant Professor
Management Information Systems and Management Double Major
The Hankamer School of Business is doubling down on fostering purposeful research by including undergraduate students in faculty-led projects.
The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (UGRA) is a paid opportunity for students to receive hands-on experience in research methodology, basic literature searches, and data collection and coding. UGRA will further position the Business School as an institution of academic excellence, William E. Crenshaw Endowed Dean Sandeep Mazumder said.
“We can improve the amount of faculty-undergraduate research collaboration that is occurring here at Hankamer,” Mazumder said. “It is a win for the faculty member as it allows them more time to work on other aspects of their research. It is also a win for the student with the experience they develop through the process.”
Driven by the lack of exposure to research as a college student, Information Systems and Business Analytics Clinical Assistant Professor Shaun Eide integrated undergraduate students into his data collection and analysis.
“My work is more of a partnership with the students,” Eide said. “They have the capacity to make meaningful contributions to research given the opportunity. In our present project, I am taking more of a mentorship role as I guide students through the process.”
Eide’s team of five students combed through hundreds of surveys comparing students’ perceptions of Baylor’s communicative efficacy during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 winter storm. While sifting through existing literature, Tatum Wray, a senior Management Information Systems and Management double major, helped change the projects’ trajectory in finding the institutional theory used to frame the team’s analysis.
“Tatum has the personality of an individual who could be a very strong researcher,” Eide said. “She is someone who goes to the foundation of the matter, sees it from an objective perspective and attempts to find the solution within the data that’s there. That is hard to find.”
Conducting the study alongside Eide and the other students offered Wray a different view of Baylor and how it works as a research institution, she said. Not only did it sharpen her time management and critical thinking skills, but the project introduced her to an area of academia she would never have considered otherwise.
“It is such a unique experience. I have gotten closer with students that are within my own major, to students that I have similar values with and are interested in the same thing as me,” Wray said. “Before this semester, I didn’t know much about qualitative research, and so it is a way that you can learn more, especially at this great University.”