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Reed Awarded $950,000 to Advance Student Digital Research

Portland, Ore (October 30, 2013)--The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Reed College $800,000 to strengthen student competencies in digital research.  Together with $150,000 from The W.M. Keck Foundation and Reed's own resources, the Mellon grant will help support a $1,175,925, four-year project aimed at transforming undergraduate student research in the digital age.

“Our goal is to enable students to take full advantage of the latest technologies and digital resources in their academic work,” says Marty Ringle chief information officer and project co-coordinator with Dena Hutto, Norman F. Carrigg College Librarian.

“In this project, we want to do more than replicate the way our students study with traditional print,” says Hutto. “We will explore how digital collections can enable our students to actively engage in new ways with a rich array of resources, including not just text but data, images, and audiovisual media.”

In the first stage of the project, faculty members will identify research competencies needed for students to succeed in specific areas of study. Faculty members will then collaborate with librarians and instructional technologists to incorporate ways of teaching those skills in their courses. Students will learn to make the most of digital resources, become adept at presenting and citing digital information, and acquire valuable experience with online collaboration methods.  These are skills that will aid students in the creation of their senior theses, a requirement for every Reed student, but are transferable skills for life beyond graduation.  

The project team will identify practices that maximize the potential of electronic collections, mobile devices, and cloud-based resources to deepen students’ scholarly engagement with texts and other materials. Social science faculty will be involved early on to help students develop a stronger grasp of digital data analysis tools so they will be better prepared to integrate quantitative information in their thesis projects.

Digital texts provide a number of practical conveniences for libraries. They take up little space, they can be delivered to students and faculty almost instantly and they provide the opportunity to locate specific textual information easily. They can also be accessed from any location with an internet connection.

The college will use the Keck Foundation grant to work with faculty members who teach science courses to identify the essential research skills for their mid-level courses and integrate instruction about these skills into their classes. By the end of the project, faculty members from as many as ten departments and one interdisciplinary program will have had the opportunity to reshape their courses to include digital research competencies.

As Ringle points out, “This project will identify and impart sophisticated research skills to students that will help them not only while they are undergraduates, but as they embark on their academic or professional careers as well.”