Written by Claudia Leeds
One of the goals for the K-State 2025 vision of becoming a top 50 public research university calls for increased participation of undergraduates in research. Esther Swilley, associate professor in the Department of Marketing, is committed to helping K-State reach that goal. This semester Swilley is working with four students who each have a different research focus.
Luzhi Deng is studying why consumers stop using mobile apps after downloading. Phillip Hill is looking in to the differences in wine and beer consumption by men and women on different occasions. Stephanie Wacker, who is also looking at gender, is examining fitness activity motivations and how recreation centers can design to accommodate these motivations. Caibing Wang is researching how American companies must change when setting up a location in China and what these changes are in terms of organizational culture.
After receiving the Provost’s Academic Excellence Fund award for her proposal to have undergraduate students present their research at the Society for Marketing Advances conference in November, Swilley invited marketing students to apply for this opportunity. The students who responded were told the rigors of the program, as well as the benefits. Those who wanted to continue are the four who are presenting.
Each student had to develop a five page abstract concerning his or her research. The abstracts were then peer reviewed by marketing academics and judged fit for the conference. That acceptance indicates that the work the students are doing is considered desirable by those in the field. When asked what motivated the students to participate, Swilley said, “These students are creating knowledge. They are doing it because they want to do it. There are no course credits or any other recognition for the project.”
Swilley explained that this experience is designed to help students prepare for both corporate and graduate school research and provides participants a first-hand chance to present their research to an international audience.
“The students have the opportunity to develop a project outside of the classroom on a subject that is of special interest to them. It gives them the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and creative skills – very marketable skills for employers.”
Swilley meets weekly with the students to help them with their research project. “I get so much joy in working one-on-one with students. Not only are they learning to do research, I learn through them, so it is a win-win for both of us. It also gives me the opportunity to understand how my students learn, so hopefully I can do better in the classroom.”
When asked if she would do this again, Swilley replied, “Yes! Each year I learn a little more – not only about the students, but my own research. It gives me the opportunity to learn as well. I am hoping to continue and I want to be able to take students, not only to more national conferences, but international as well. I would also like the opportunity to offer it as a class, so that the students get course credit for all of their hard work. It also offers the opportunity to find students who may one day want to become academics.”