Evidence to Scholarship: Understanding the Research Needs of Reed College Students
Reed College is in the early phases of a joint library-IT project to improve undergraduate research skills, especially for sophomores and juniors. Numerous studies have focused on the first-year experience, but none have explicitly looked at how sophomores and juniors make the transition to conducting course-related research independently.
This project serves as a needs assessment for the broader initiative. We gathered information by conducting and analyzing faculty and student focus groups and also implemented a student survey. Our findings indicate that while most students understand the importance of quality resources, they often struggle to understand faculty expectations and to integrate all the facets of the research process into a unified whole. Based on these findings, we make several recommendations: earlier introduction to research methods, projects broken into manageable parts with clear expectations, better promotion of available services and technologies, and integrated classroom training and introduction to discipline-based research practices.