The pair, both faculty members in IUP's Department of Economics, created a specialized economics research project and required it of their students. And, like good economists, the Drs. Jozefowicz collected and analyzed data related to students who had completed the project.
In reviewing the work of students post-project, they found that they were correct--this project HAS made a difference.
The Jozefowiczes' findings were the subject of a presentation at the 2011 Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees fall conference. "Ten Years of Learning by Doing: The Benefits of Undergraduate Research for IUP Economics Students" documented that students who completed the project have won many awards for research and have secured competitive jobs at national companies and organizations.
For example, their students have won "best paper" awards at competitive regional competitions, the "best undergraduate student paper" award at the Pennsylvania Economic Association Conference, and seven "best presentation" awards at IUP's Undergraduate Scholars Conference.
Altogether, 80 students have done presentations at local and regional conferences, and 34 students have been published in national and international journals, including Applied Economics, Atlantic Economic Journal, International Advances in Economic Research, International Journal of Applied Economics, and New York Economic Review.
Students have found employment at places like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, Federal Reserach Bank of Philadelphia, Bank of New York Mellon, and many local and regional financial organizations.
Research papers are pretty routine for college students--what makes the Jozefowiczes' project different?
First, it's a 10- to 15-page paper, much more rigorous than most required writing. Students must select a topic of personal interest, build a data set, review economic literature, analyze and interpret the data using statistical methods, write a referred report for their peers, and then give an oral presentation. On top of it all, the paper has to be formatted like a professional journal article.
"The project is very student-focused," Stephanie Jozefowicz said. "We believed, and our research and the student evaluations confirmed this, that our 'let me show you how to do econometrics and send you out to do it' approach engages students and challenges them intellectually better than a more traditional instructor-focused 'let me tell you about econometrics' approach."
James Jozefowicz agreed.
"Not only did the students develop a positive attitude about learning because they could be creative in their choice of topic, but this type of project helps students to build a lifelong ability to 'do economics,'" he said.