Undergraduate Student Research

At CSU, substantial educational benefits come from student engagement in research-related activity. Students can take advantage of the opportunity to participate in ongoing research studies, or read and write about published research projects. Students also are encouraged to get involved with ongoing research through independent study in order to learn about the process of conducting psychological science and to prepare for more advanced study, graduate programs, or professional research settings.

The university offers Undergraduate Research Awards to students on a competitive basis. These awards provide funding for direct costs associated with approved research projects (e.g., research materials, participant payments), and require supervision by a faculty member. For information, visit the Undergraduate Student Funding page.

Direct educational benefits for students who choose to participate in studies

Participation in a research pool is an educational experience. Students who participate in research will usually gain exposure to multiple studies, conducted in multiple labs. This provides a rich and meaningful learning experience with exposure to a diversity of topics and methods.

Students who become involved in more studies will encounter a variety of contemporary issues in psychology research, in fields such as cognition/language, motor control, social behavior and decision-making, personality, industrial/organizational behavior, and others.

Research studies are conducted in diverse research environments such as computerized cognitive/language labs, social-settings labs, psychophysiological (e.g., mouse/eye-tracking) labs, online settings, and others.

Finally, students who engage in multiple research studies will encounter more methodologies, from surveys, pilot tests, experiments, and brief longitudinal designs, to outcomes involving behavior, attitudes, computerized tasks, or physiological measurements. Through research debriefings, methods will be highlighted and explained to participants.  

Students who write reports about research (rather than or in addition to serving as research participants) also can gain exposure to multiple studies, conducted in multiple labs, with a diversity of topics and methods by looking up, reading, and summarizing published academic research reports.

A gateway to Independent Study

Active research participation also can serve as a gateway to independent study and, potentially, to honors projects.

Students who choose to participate in research studies gain broad exposure to multiple faculty research studies and can become acquainted with faculty and their research assistants while doing so. Students can become aware of some of the active research programs being conducted by faculty in the CSU Psychology Department, which opens several doors for future research-related scholarship. Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about faculty-led projects that potentially also interest students themselves.
  • Meet fellow undergraduate and graduate students serving as research assistants in diverse lab settings. These other students can provide supportive insights or share resources about relevant independent study topics and opportunities.
  • Consider their common interests with faculty research, and potentially enhance their educational experience at CSU by joining a faculty’s research project for independent study (research assistant or other supervised projects) or for honors course research.

Undergraduate research assistantship (PSY 396: Independent Study)

Student research assistants gain valuable hands-on learning experiences and directly contribute to cutting-edge research in psychology. Students can expect to work closely with faculty and can expect to receive training, guidance, and resources relevant to conducting research studies. An Independent Study course (PSY 396) is available as an elective for students to pursue topics of interest under the guidance of a faculty member. It can be taken repeatedly, to continue projects or to “shop around” and learn about new topics or work with multiple faculty members.

Having tangible research experience (in terms of completed projects, exposure to multiple projects, and other research accomplishments) can be of paramount importance when students apply for future graduate school admission and/or research positions.