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Sarah Jewell: researching and teaching the economics of labour – University of Reading

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  • Research-based teaching

    Using expertise and knowledge to enhance your learning

Sarah Jewell: researching and teaching the economics of labour

Dr Sarah Jewell is interested in human capital – the skills and attributes a person has that makes them attractive in the labour market. Her research focuses on the graduate labour market and how well graduates perform based on a number of factors such as subject choice and whether they return to education.

She is particularly interested in analysing the success of creative graduates in the labour market: Do they have a graduate-level job? Does their work match their field of study and salary? And how satisfied are they with their career?

It's an important area of research given that an increasing number of people are going to university. Because Sarah's research and expertise feeds into the undergraduate module "Economics of labour", you can explore the topic in incredible depth, and develop skills you otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to.

How Sarah's research feeds into your learning

“With the "Economics of labour" module, I want to give undergraduate students the chance to actually do some research. I want to give them a project that gets them to really apply themselves to labour economics and think about what a researcher would do. They have to read academic research and look and think about how they link to policy.”

Dr Sarah Jewell

Part of this involves you collecting primary data, which you do by running your own experiments. This approach provides a really good way of obtaining information and preferences from people who maybe didn't even know themselves.

You are, of course, gently guided through the process, but otherwise have a lot of freedom to do the primary research yourself – which is not something you typically get to do very often at undergraduate level.

How you can help or contribute towards academic research?

We're keen for you to get actively involved in assisting with research during your studies by taking on a research project. That's because getting some research experience early on will help you a lot in your future career.

“You come up with your own question, work out how you're going to test it, test it, interpret the model and link it back to your research question – essentially doing what an academic researcher would do. I think doing your own research project as an undergraduate is hugely beneficial, as it gets you to think about what you're doing and why. Often employers say students lack the ability to interpret and discuss their findings, particularly to a broader audience. Our approach teaches these transferable skills, enabling you to reiterate your findings and what you researched.”

Dr Sarah Jewell

on undergraduates getting involved with research

The fact that you're actively applying yourself, rather than simply looking at an academic article, means you gain an in-depth knowledge of how economics research works. You'll have the chance to familiarise yourself with the same statistical software that researchers use, which will help you to stand out when applying for graduate roles after your degree.

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