All students in an Information and Library Science graduate program at SCSU are required to complete a "special project" in lieu of a thesis. The project may be completed in connection with a course being taken or it may be completed as an independent study, field project, or outside of course credit. The special project, along with a narrative paper described below, must be approved by the course instructor or advisor and submitted on CD-ROM to the ILS office prior to graduation.
Each special project file must include the following:
- Identification and listing of 5 to 9 key concepts and skills the student gained over the course of his or her planned study and that are applied to the special project;
- Identification and listing of the courses in the student's planned study that contributed to this knowledge and skill set;
- Discussion of how the student applied this knowledge and skill set to the special project;
- Documentation of the special project itself;
- Supporting assessment documents, such as letters from practitioners who benefited from the project's implementation.
The Special Project requirement has been fulfilled in connection with my project for ILS 680 Evaluation and Research, the details of which are documented elsewhere on this website. In the process of completing this project—an examination of several Connecticut public library websites and the assigning of a score based on how many "Library 2.0" features were implemented out of a given set—a number of concepts and skills were applied which had been acquired in ILS 680 and previous classes in the M.L.S. program:
- The elements of website construction, the identification of research problems, and the scientific research procedure in general were first introduced in ILS 501 Introduction to Technology and further elaborated in ILS 680;
- The application of a formal methodology to solve a practical problem was also a feature of ILS 575 Instructional Design Principles, ILS 655 Digital Libraries, and ILS 532 User-Centered Database Design and Development;
- A variety of research methods and approaches were examined in ILS 680;
- Classroom discussions and presentations, and one-on-one consultations with our professor in ILS 680 offered everyone some insight into the collaborative aspect of research, and into the practical application of research methods that other classmates had chosen to use;
- All ILS 680 students completed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Web-based training course on Protecting Human Research Participants;
- Practical experience with research design and execution was gained in ILS 680;
- Survey design, although not formally covered, was touched upon in ILS 680 and classmates had an opportunity to study each other's work;
- Statistical concepts and methods and their application were studied extensively in ILS 680 and, although a statistical software package was used to produce quantitative results, the methods may be applied with simpler spreadsheet applications;
- A final oral presentation in ILS 680 offered yet another opportunity to hone presentation skills that were first exercised in ILS 501 and in many other courses.
No supporting documents exist yet for the ILS 680 project, as it has not been published nor submitted for review outside of the classroom. A brief follow-up survey was posted to Conntech, a state-wide listserv mainly devoted to technical issues, and the results, which were posted back to the list, were at least as illuminating as the objective website survey.