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RU Libraries boost HS students' research skills - a Testimonial

Approximately five years ago our school, the Ocean County Vocational Technical School's Performing Arts Academy, began seeking Middle States accreditation. As part of that effort we developed an interdisciplinary assignment to link the Performing Arts to other academic disciplines. The Senior Interdisciplinary Project (SIP) began as a 3-year project in which the students researched 3 possible topics (sophomore year), completed an 8-page research essay (junior year), and created a 10 minute presentation demonstrating their findings (senior year).

Being a Mason Gross School of the Arts alumnae (2001), I knew how substantial the Douglass Library was in the genre of Performing Arts. I really wanted the students to have the opportunity to experience a collegiate library with credible resources geared towards their areas of interest.

I contacted the library and was connected to Eileen Stec, who worked with me and my colleagues to bring our students to the Douglass Library for their preliminary research. While we were there, she instructed them on the myriad of resources the library offered and how to go about the best way of utilizing those resources. From online journals, to the Library catalog to Interlibrary Loan with our local libraries, Eileen shared her expertise with our students. The quality of their research papers and consequently the entire project greatly increased due to the availability of these great resources and her instruction.

This year Eileen Stec and Rutgers Graduate Assistant Courtney Neiddu visited us at our school. Their instruction included exercises on searching - keyword development, controlled vocabulary, etc. to encourage the students' use of the local public library's resources, and to save time when they visit Douglass in the future. They also took the time to present the Rutgers University Libraries' website as a research tool and other tips for research using the Internet.

This partnership has been an invaluable experience for our school community – for our students as young researchers and for my colleagues as educators. We hope to continue these partnerships at the county and university levels as we have seen how very much the students benefit from these experiences!

Mary Huhmann
Vocal Music Instructor
OCVTS Performing Arts Academy - Navy Lakehurst Center

Posted January 11, 2011