For some time Pacific’s English writing course, Research Methods in Humanities, has been a requirement for all English majors to complete prior to graduation. However, this year will be the first in which the course adds the Kindle e-reader to its list of resources, further modernizing its research methods.

The returning course is being instructed by Professor Pauline Beard with help from Lynda Irons, Reference & Info Services Coordinator. According to Irons, the idea to incorporate Kindles into the curriculum being regularly taught in the course was a combination of info gathered at a recent conference in New Orleans and an experimentation using Kindles in the classroom at Reed College. When determining which department and course would be utilizing the Kindles, Irons said the question was, “How can we us electronic devices to their full potential in this environment?”

With this in mind, Research in Humanities “seemed like a logical fit” in which to use the Kindles, said Irons. Those enrolled in the course often covering writing topics that are “all over the board” and are also preparing for capstone courses and “focusing more on the research skills needed,” Irons said.

Although the course is required of English majors, Irons said other departments are represented. So, having the Kindles would be a helpful added resource for researching purposes.

Thanks to a faculty development grant that approved funding for this new direction in the course, Kindles will soon be arriving for Research in Humanities students to use. Not only will the electronic textbooks necessary for the course be much less expensive, but the library also currently has a collection of eBooks available for student use that will be compatible with the Kindles.

With all these new resources being added to the course, other changes were necessary as well in terms of instruction. Rather than making a single appearance in the class as she did in the past to demonstrate the library’s research tools, Irons will this time be in the class a total of five times. The increased number of sessions will make breaking research topics and how to approach them much simpler according to Irons.

Although a key element of the course is what research in the humanities entails, Irons said her role and overall goal is to “emphasize how the library can help you with the research you need,” regardless of your field of study. And with the Kindles, Irons said the library can effectively expand into other methods of research.

Although Kindles have been incorporated into class curriculum at other institutions, Irons emphasized that for now, it is simply a pilot program at Pacific. Before it can be a guaranteed course available to students in the future, Irons said the program must first “assess how well it works, then take the next steps.”

Regardless of which direction is taken after this initial test-run, thanks to the grant, Pacific’s library will be able to keep the Kindles for student use.


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