History Research Papers Running Smoothly

Zachary Davis '21, Staff Writer

Spring term at Loomis Chaffee has been thrust into turmoil with the advent of COVID-19. With the shift to virtual learning, every class has had to restructure its curriculum toward a more decentralized, hands-off approach. This has had implications across all subjects, but especially the U.S. History class and its notorious end-of-the-year research paper.
The paper is a massive undertaking: each student completes a 10+ page opus that encapsulates an entire term of research and a year’s worth of history study. During a typical year, the paper would have extensive faculty oversight, with in-person meetings and daily work in the library\; however, this year, students have been left much to their own devices.
The paper process has been structured very methodically: rather than having an overwhelming amount of research to do over a term, students have been presented with a rather digestible list of assignments that, when taken step by step over the term, are equivalent to a fully formulated paper. These assignments, generally consisting of examination of both secondary and primary sources found on databases and encyclopedias, have been supplemented with online learning videos presented by Loomis faculty in both the library and the history department.
Another part of the online process is the new “research partners” system. Teachers assign each student another member of their class for them to consult, strategize, and converse with about their paper. Typically, these partners are arranged by the similarity of their topics, as well as the general themes of their research.
Though U.S. History students have found themselves in a difficult situation, they have the privilege of abundant asynchronous research time combined with constant faculty feedback. As a result of these adjustments, the research paper process is running extremely smoothly online.