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Davis Educational Foundation Awards
$236,000 Grant To Springfield College
For Pilot Program In Advanced
Science Courses

June 29, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., June 29, 2006 -- The Davis Educational Foundation has awarded Springfield College a $236,000 grant to pilot a new program to teach students of advanced sciences to master use of information technology for learning and research.

Unlike programs at most other colleges, the Springfield College Science Information Literacy Project will imbed information technology instruction in existing courses, rather than adding courses on information literacy. In the three-year pilot, Springfield College will develop instruction and exercises on use of information technology in upper level courses in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and other applied sciences.

Announcing the grant, Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn said, “We are grateful to the Davis Educational Foundation for helping us launch this unprecedented approach to equipping students and faculty to manage the challenges of the super information era. The Science Information Literacy Project will strengthen our learning program as scholarly communication increasingly moves from paper to digital and multi-media formats.”

According to Jean Wyld, Springfield College vice president for academic affairs, “Information literacy is particularly important for students and professionals in the sciences who face daunting challenges keeping up with an overwhelming volume of information from many sources. We are optimistic that this new program will help equip our students for the science careers of tomorrow, and also will be an example for other colleges to emulate.”

By incorporating information literacy instruction in existing courses, the college expects to save students and the institution the time and expense of acquiring such skills through additional courses. Wyld anticipates that this, in addition to the lessons that faculty create and the college’s analysis of the project’s results, will be precedent-setting for other colleges in establishing similar information literacy programs.

The grant will fund a three-year director for the project and two sessions of an Information Literacy Institute for ten Springfield College science faculty members. At the first institute in June 2007, the faculty members will begin a year of developing pilot project assignments for their courses. With the help of their mentors in the program, they will continue to develop, test and evaluate pilot assignments throughout the year. During a June 2008 institute, they will share their work and refine assignments that they tested during the previous year. The college will incorporate the new information literacy assignments into science courses in the 2008-2009 academic year.

In the information literacy component of advanced science courses, students will learn to access specific information through vast web-based sources and traditional reference materials; to assess the reliability of such information; and use information effectively, ethically and legally.

The Science Information Literacy Project is the second phase of an information literacy program that Springfield College introduced in 2002. The initial pilot program, which focused on introductory level courses in many subjects, was supported by a $240,000 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to create the Davis Center for Information Literacy. Through the center, faculty members engage students in group problem solving, research, and information analysis using mobile laptop computers throughout a wireless zone in the college’s Babson Library.

The Science Information Literacy Project is the latest of several major developments in Springfield College’s science education program. Last month, the college broke ground for the major renovation and expansion of Schoo Hall into a state-of-the-art science teaching facility. The renovation includes wireless laboratories and classrooms that will be integral to the Science Information Literacy Project.

In 2005, the college received state approval to offer a doctoral program in physical therapy. It also established the School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies in support of its longstanding undergraduate and graduate programs in the health sciences.

Since 2002, the college also has formed agreements with several medical schools which guarantee acceptance of qualified Springfield College graduates. More than 95 percent of Springfield College students who apply to medical or dental school have been accepted by their schools and all of them have completed medical studies.

More than 85 percent of Springfield College’s 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students take science courses as a requirement of their academic major or minor areas of study. Such students are preparing for careers as medical professionals, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, athletic trainers, biologists, environmental scientists, science teachers, physical educators, and more.

The Davis Educational Foundation was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after his retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. The foundation seeks to strengthen regionally accredited baccalaureate degree granting public and private colleges and universities in New England.

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