This past semester, Special Collections and Archives (SCA) had the honor of partnering with Dr. Rebekah Pratt-Sturges and her 2 sections of HUM 195, Humanities in Action on some class-based instruction around primary source materials housed in SCA. We began working with Dr. Pratt-Sturges over the summer, working out how best to teach her students (mostly freshmen) about primary source materials; how such materials can be found and used, and; how to incorporate them into a presentation. The HUM 195 students working in groups were charged with creating an online exhibit (using Omeka as their exhibit platform) that told a story about an element of local Flagstaff or NAU history using primary source material.As both sections of the classes occurred on the same day (one in the afternoon and one in the evening, beyond SCA’s normal hours), some schedule adjustments had to be made. The plan was to schedule 8 sessions across 4 dates, with the first 4 being the introduction and orientation to Special Collections, including a tour. The reason that were four sessions for the first round of instruction was we needed to split the classes to keep the numbers small for the tour and introduction to SCA. All of the other sessions were to the full classes.We began instruction sessions in mid-October with the introductions and tours to show students what archives house and the material they might expect to access, plus orienting them to the culture of SCA, the unit’s hours, the reading room, and services. We followed those up with instructing the classes on using the Colorado Plateau Digital Archives, and Arizona Archives Online at the end of October that showed students our two key online research tools to access online and analog primary source material. Then, we finished with the last sessions talking about descriptive metadata and then touring the classes through the “Spender and Spectacle: the 100 Year Journey of Grand Canyon National Park” exhibit so that the student could see the results of primary source research as a finished exhibit project. Each session had generous time for Q & A.So, how did it work?In short, it worked well from our standpoint. The final student projects (listed below) speak for themselves. I don’t believe too many freshman casually learn about material in SCA in the course of their studies, and yet, here are nearly 50 students who not only have learned about the value of primary source material, but are able to independently find material in SCA to support their research (and many did so external to their scheduled instruction sessions) and integrate them into their projects.For SCA this was a bit of work. There was quite a bit of advanced planning, and meetings and e-mails to confirm that appropriate results and that solid information was delivered for each session. Each session required two SCA staffers. These 8 sessions represented 25% of our total fall semester course instruction load. There were also around 24 instances of individual and group research consultations, research recommendations/strategy sessions or interviews with individual students that were conducted in support of the students’ projects. Saying that, these are the sorts of collaborative, and synthetic teaching and learning events we really enjoy and value because of the results. For this course there were clear learning objectives, and ultimately students were successful in producing their final products. Finally, we were granted the opportunity to view the students’ presentations here in the library in room 249. This allowed us to see the fruits of (all of) our labors and judge the course results for ourselves.
Here are the student presentations from HUM 195 (and yes, a couple of links do appear to be broken):