When you walk into the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons (FLC), you see students everywhere, bent over laptops, making notes, asking questions and working on projects. Behind the scenes, library staff provide assistance and guide students to the resources they need for their research. But once the project is complete, does it go in a file? Is it only part of a course grade? Or can it be something more?
Taylor Baugher, Learning Services Librarian at Bridgewater College since 2020, routinely speaks to classes about research and meets with students individually to answer their questions as they’re working on these projects. Wanting the best student work to be highlighted with an award, Baugher worked with Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall, Director of Student Research and Associate Professor of Psychology, to create the Library Research Award, funded through the Center for Engaged Learning and the Class of 1968 Fund. Baugher and MacDougall, along with reviewers from all three schools at Bridgewater (Rhodes School of Arts and Humanities, School of Natural Sciences and School of Professional Studies), read the submissions and chose first- and second-place winners, as well as three honorable mentions.
Students submitted their work along with a reflective essay that explained how they completed their research and how their research enhanced their growth as scholars. In addition to the first- and second-place winners receiving a small monetary prize, the faculty member who assigned the research paper or project also receive a small prize.
This year, the first-place award went to history and computer science double major Savannah Scott ’23, for her paper, “Wartime and Womanpower: The Organization of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense,” written for HIST-470: Senior Seminar. The second-place award went to history and political science major Katelyn Harrison ’23, for “Sir Edward Grey and the Concert of Europe: A Final Attempt to Save Europe from War.” Biology major Alison Keister ’23, history major Meghann Burgess ’23 and history and political science major Sarah Rodes ’23 received honorable mentions for their submissions.
“This award is a great initiative, and I am honored to receive it in its inaugural year,” Scott said. “It’s important to recognize student research outside of a classroom setting to further motivate the pursuit of new and exciting projects. This award embodies the support and encouragement from Bridgewater’s faculty and the resources that help make student projects possible.”
Dr. Brandon Marsh, Associate Professor of History, taught both Scott and Harrison in their senior seminar class and encouraged his students to apply for the award. Marsh said the award illustrates the teamwork that goes into effective research at Bridgewater.
“Students, professors and the FLC staff are all working together to make first-rate undergraduate research possible,” he said.
Baugher said she appreciated the opportunity to read the final product of the work she often hears about only during the research process. In reading the reflections, she got to see students realize the importance of the various sources and components of their research.
“I get to learn something new every single day,” Baugher said. “To see the fruits of that [research] is just really exciting.”
She hopes that in the future the award prizes can continue to grow and that more students will submit their work as awareness increases.
Scott, Harrison and Keister will also be presenting their work at the 2023 ASPIRE: A Celebration of the Arts, Scholarship, Performance, Innovation and Research Excellence.
— By Olivia Shifflett