Southern Utah University Working Paper Series

SUUWP was established in the spring of 2019 as a way to highlight and showcase undergraduate research. Originally stemming from research projects from the undergraduate econometrics course, SUUWP is for any student using economic tools to conduct original research. To be published on this site, students must write an academic research paper and present their findings at an academic conference.


Hailey Checketts

High School Extracurricular Activities and Future Success
By: Hailey Checketts

Abstract: In recent years, participation in high school extracurricular activities has become increasingly more popular. As I looked at this trend, I wondered if being actively engaged in these activities could truly improve how successful students were in their future lives and careers. Models run on data from the NELS survey showed significant relationships between
future earnings and extracurricular participation across some levels, but not others. All levels of high school participation were found to be correlated with increased civic engagement. These trends show that there is likely a relationship between student participation in extracurricular
activities and success in their future lives.

James Clark

The Effect of the Internet at Home on National Park Visitation
By: James Clark

Abstract:  This paper examines the effect of the proportion of a state’s population that has access to the
internet has on that state’s national park visitation. The purpose of this study is to provide insight
on how the internet affects the quantity of eco-tourists in American National Parks. This study
determines using linear regression that as more of a state’s population gains access to the internet
that state’s national park visitation will decrease at the 99% significance level all else held constant.

Jared Cooksey

The Implications of Unemployment on US Suicide Rates

By: Jared Cooksey

Abstract: Although suicide is, by definition, an individual act, it is speculated to be caused by psychological, environmental, and economic factors. This study attempts to identify the effect the United States unemployment rate has on the national suicide rate. Previous research has found that in countries without unemployment benefits there is a significant positive relationship between the two, but what about a country with established aid like the United States? While my initial assumption was that this trend would continue to be positive, I find that when controlling for confounding variables there is no significant correlation between unemployment and suicide, all else held constant.

Benjamin Funk

Bye Weeks Impact on Seasonal Success in the National Football League

By: Benjamin Funk

Abstract: This study determines the effect of how the point in which a team’s bye week during their regular season impacts their chances of making it to the postseason. Two different linear probability regression models are used to find how the independent variable bye week impacts the binary dependent variable of making the playoffs for a given team in a season. One model uses bye week as the week of the bye week while the other categorizes bye weeks into the beginning, middle, and end of the season. Logit and Probit models are used to check for robustness within the base model. This study suggests that there is not enough evidence to suggest that the “when” of a bye week in a team’s schedule impacts that team’s chances of making it into the postseason.

Da huo

Under the Bubble, Does Home Court Advantage Still Exist?
By: Da Huo

Abstract: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, NBA season was suspended in March 2020 and resumed three months later in the Bubble located in Orlando Disneyland, which was designed to be an isolation zone to protect players. That leads to the research question of this study, Under the Bubble, does home court advantage still exist? The method used in this study is regression analysis by using interaction models. I have found that there is no significant difference in winning probabilities for the home team compared to the away team in the Bubble during the regular-season games. Moreover, the home team's winning probability is 30.5% lower than the away team during playoff games in the Bubble, significant at 99% level. So the home court advantage no longer exists under the Bubble circumstance. 


The Efficacy of Solo Exercise vs Sports in Terms of BMI Outcomes
By: Colby Meline

Abstract: "Although group exercise has been shown to have psychological benefits not found in solo exercise, solo exercise remains vastly more popular than group exercise in the United States (among the portion of the population who do exercise). This may seem problematic to the observer. If, in fact, group exercise carries intrinsic benefits, should it not be equally popular to solo exercise, if not more? Perhaps this disparity in popularity could be due to difficulties in scheduling group exercise, but this is unsatisfying as an explanation. Rather, it may suggest that people generally perceive that solo exercise is more efficacious than group exercise in terms of health benefits. If this is the case, it only makes sense to investigate the truth of this belief. Do solo exercise forms result in better health outcomes than group exercise forms? The data used in this study comes from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) and the Eating and Health Module of the American Time Use Survey, years 2015-2016. Methodologically, this study primarily utilizes multivariate linear regression to identify the relative efficacy of different forms of exercise."


Rachel Smith

The Effect Sport Participation has on an Athlete’s GPA at SUU
By: Rachel Smith

Abstract: The research question asks if participating in a college sport at Southern Utah University has an effect on the student’s GPA. Linear regression is used with GPA being the output variable to determine if there is an effect by looking at the coefficients and the p-values. Another linear regression is used with GPA as the output variable to determine if there are systematic differences within gender. The data consists of a population with both male and female sports from SUU athletics. The results show that there is an effect that the specific sport you participate in has an effect on GPA. A systematic difference was found in female sports compared to male sports having a higher expected GPA. These results are significant on all levels. The null hypothesis is failed to be rejected given that there is an impact that sports have on GPA for students.

Caasi Smuin

The Effect of Minimum Wage Policy Changes on a State’s Unemployment Rate
By: Caasi Smuin

Abstract: Policymakers often use statistical measurements like the unemployment rate to express
the effectiveness of certain policy implementations. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of minimum wage policy changes on a state’s unemployment rate. Previous research has found varying results regarding the relationship between minimum wage and employment;
economic theory anticipates a rise in minimum wage will lead to higher unemployment, but many studies’ empirical results are neither robust nor statistically strong. The results of this study conclude that when a state changes their minimum wage, there is a statistically significant decrease in their unemployment rate compared to a state that does not change their minimum wage rate. However, states with active legislation to annually increase minimum wage or states
where the minimum wage is indexed for inflation are expected to see an increase in their state unemployment rate compared to states who do not adjust their wages annually.



Financial Aid Awards and Their Impact on College GPA at Southern Utah University
By: Lauren Karzen

Abstract:  Performance throughout higher education institutions is important for decision makers in academia to observe due to the pressure placed on these individuals in order to prove tuition changes and subsidies as reasonable in relation to the level of impact on student academics. Using data from Southern Utah University throughout the academic years 2015-16 through 2018-19, this paper analyzes the relationship between college cumulative GPA, as a measure of academic performance, and different sources of financial aid, categorized through merit-based institutional scholarship awards, federal grants and loans obtained through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), athletic financial aid, alternative student loans, and other (including private scholarships, endowments, departmental scholarships, and other uncategorized aid sources). This study finds that Academic aid, “Other” aid result in an increase in GPA, while federal grants and loans are expected to decrease in GPA; all significant at the 99% level. Out of all aid types, academic aid has the largest impact, in absolute terms, on GPA. These results provide support for SUU’s generous merit-based awards, showing that they seem to be helping students perform better.


Changes, Changes, Changes
By: Vernice Lee

Abstract: Like any professional sports organization, the NBA holds a draft that allows teams to strategically choose amongst qualified individuals to participate within their organization to better them as a whole. Over the course of the history of the NBA, the system in which the draft functions has changed several times now resulting in 4 teams being chosen from a Lottery to select picks No. 1 - No. 4. The purpose of this study is to compare the wins produced by the first 4 draft picks to the following draft picks up to justify that indeed the first 4 draft picks are more beneficial than the rest. Using a simple OLS model, we will compare differences in means between the 2 groups also controlling for individual player statistics and team statistics to account for more variation in our measures of Wins Produced. If evidence is found that supports the idea that the first 4 picks produce more wins when compared to the picks after, there is an obvious incentive to tank or do worse to obtain a Lottery Pick.


By: Erica Hanserd

Abstract: There are various factors that play into how decision-makers select players in the annual National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. The McDonald's All-American Game (MCDAGG) is one of the most prestigious and longest running high school all-star games. Using NBA Draft data, NCAA statistics, and past MCDAAG rosters, multiple OLS regressions will be run for empirical analyses. After controlling for college statistics and individual as well as team characteristics, the impact of participating in the MCDAAG will be measured in regards to draft position. After analyzing the results, it can be argued that being selected to high-school all-star games does not have a significant impact on future NBA draft position.


Mental Health Outcomes with Pets
By: Jared Rowley

Abstract: I take a sample of patients who are consulting with physicians. (n=390) Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), I find those who are owners of pets. I test for impacts on the health outcomes of those patients compared to other patients. I control for different types of disorders and conditions as Ill as demographic and individual factors. I test for a difference in means and a difference across time, to test users for difference between pet owners and non-pet owners in mental health scores, and to test for improvement in mental health scores caused by pets. I find that there is a difference in scores from patients who have pets, but no difference in improvement has been shown between pet owners and non-pet owners with the data used in the analysis of this paper.


Does a Second Major Effect Employment?
By: D. Cade Sivertsen

Abstract: This paper examines the effect that having a second major within a bachelor’s degree can have on employment. While additional education has generally proven to help an individual to experience better employment, the results of this study suggest that having a second major on average does not help an individual to get a job but rather decreases the chances of being employed by almost 0.1%. However, having two majors in related disciplines is not statistically different than having a single major degree while having two majors in unrelated fields decreases the chances of being employed by 0.15%.


By: Kenadie Stanger

Abstract:  After the disbandment of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2012, the National Women’s Soccer League was created in that same year with much optimism. Although the NWSL has had many successes over the years compared to other professional women’s soccer leagues, the NWSL has had a lot of difficulty with broadcasting agreements and maintaining attention from fans. This essay seeks to analyze the effect broadcasting agreements and the FIFA WWC had on NWSL attendance. I find that there are statistically significant changes in attendance from the events of the FIFA’s Women’s World Cup and the broadcasting agreement between the NWSL and ESPN in the year 2019.


Jacob Lyman

How Much is That Second Major Worth?
By: Jacob Lyman

Abstract: This study examines the difference in earnings between college graduates who select to double-major for their bachelor's degree versus those who select to only single-major. To collect a greater return on their education, students are often compelled to double-major as they pursue their bachelor's degree. Does this decision effectively increase student outcomes? At the beginning of this study, my initial assumption was that a second major would insignificantly affect the earnings of an individual. The results of this study confirm this hypothesis, providing evidence that a second major insignificantly affects earnings at the 95% confidence level, all else held constant.

Brayden Ross

Online Interactions in Education and Their Effects on Students Perception of Quality
By: Brayden Ross

Abstract: Online education is increasing as a solution to manage increasing enrollment numbers at higher education institutions. Intentionally and thoughtfully constructed courses allow students to improve performance through practice and self-assessment and instructors benefit from improving consistency in providing content and assessing process, performance, and progress. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of student to instructor interaction on the student’s perception of quality for an online course. The top two findings of the case study included an overall linear relationship between interactions per student and overall perception of quality in addition to a statistically significant relationship between interactions per student and quality-of-course scoring by students using linear regression with fixed effects for colleges.


Cassidy Mickelson

The Worth of an MLB All-Star: Are MLB All-Star Players the Key to Wins, the Playoffs, and the World Series?
By: Cassidy Mickelson

Abstract: All-Stars are given the title of being the best a team has to offer but are they helping their teams get more wins, make it to the playoffs and win the World Series? Players are more likely to make the MLB all-star team in the first years of their career, thus a team should identify and purchase these players if it is found that these players could help a team be successful. It is also in the team's best interest to know how many players they should purchase with an “all-star” status. This study found that while holding home game attendance, salary, earned run average (ERA) and fielding percentage constant, a team should try to have 8-9 all-stars on their team to increase wins and probability of making the playoffs, while 6-7 all-stars will help a team to win the World Series.

Mikala Lowrance

One More Shot: Predicting Wins in Women's Professional Tennis
By: Mikala Lowrance

Abstract: Racquet technology, tactics, and an increased importance placed on improving player stamina have led the game of tennis to evolve into a more physically demanding sport over the past 20 years. This paper looks to examine rally duration's effect on match outcome of female tennis players at the professional level. The purpose of this research was to assess the relationship between point duration and winning to better understand to what extent a player's stamina as well as momentum shifts effect winning. Data was collected through the Tennis Match Charting Project, in which one hundred forty-one matches where used. Matches were only used from the Australian Open to keep consistency in surface and ball type. Results indicate that the player who is most successful on long rallies of 10 or more shots is both the player in greater physical shape, and is the player that will likely gain the most momentum. From these assumptions, it is speculated that the player with a higher number of long rallies won, will ultimately win the match.

Jessica Mancuso

Does a Gender Pay Gap Among Faculty Exist at Southern Utah University?
By: Jessica Mancuso

Abstract: This paper provides an analysis on salaries for female and male faculty members at Southern Utah University. Given all the attention that gender pay gap has gotten in the last years, I have decided to respond to the question if Southern Utah University, the university where I study, has a gender pay gap among faculty members. After gathering information on SUU's faculty education, job position, age, and salary, I used a linear regression model to answer this question. The results of the study suggest that there is not enough evidence to prove that there is a gender pay gap among SUU faculty, probably because the data set is limited to the year 2016.