Is doing research with a student considered to be good for a dossier? Is it okay to have few research publications but a lot of student projects? I am finishing up a grad program and am looking at tenure track jobs at both big and small schools.
Doing research with undergraduate is currently very valued: at small schools, as JSE points out, because it helps improve the educational experience of your students. At larger schools, bringing in outside undergraduate students in the summer is a great way to advertise [recruit for] a graduate program. Including a solid undergraduate project always improves a grant application.
At the same time, undergraduate research cannot take the place of your actual research. I think that most people who are serious about UG research would agree that UG research in math should be primarily about the student's experience and growth, which means that more often than not the actual science will have to take a back seat to making the student a better mathematician.
It sounds like you're afraid your CV has too much of that. You can rightfully boast about this, but (in an interview) I would make it clear that you don't intend it to be your whole research program.
Addendum: This is only marginally connected to the original question, but I thought I would mention a few useful resources for those who want to look into the what and how of undergraduate research.
- Pretty much every year including 2011, Aparna Higgins and Joe Gallian offer a minicourse, Getting students involved in undergraduate research at the joint meetings. A lot of what they do is to explain what to expect and how to get started. A lot of people seem to have unrealistic expectations (I imagine our OP does not since he has a track record).
- The UG poster session at the joint meetings is a good place to get an idea on what people are doing. Plus, they always need more judges! ;-)
- Remember though that the joint meetings poster session represents the cream of the crop, so check out your regional meetings, they usually have a poster session too.
- Check out the NSF REU site
- Here is an example of a non-REU program I'm familiar with. I'm sure there are more.URSI (Vassar)
This is in no way meant to be exhaustive of course!
One should also be aware (or beware!) that what a college's webpage or promotional materials advertise may be different than what a promotion and tenure committee values which may in turn be different from what an individual department values. Within a department faculty members may also have widely differing views on the value of undergraduate research (as UG research -- most people want good papers no matter who the authors are.) At some schools, like my own LA college, the research of a tenure candidate is evaluated mainly through letters written by people in related research areas. These people are likely to evaluate you solely on the basis of the (perceived) quality of your publications. Thus, if one has to make the decision between fewer or weaker publications with undergrads and more or stronger publications without undergrads, you really need to take institutional structure and personalities into account. It may be impossible to do this without reading the faculty handbook and without knowing the individuals in the department. I suspect most people find themselves constrained and guided by circumstances and don't actually choose one or the other.