Using Primary Sources in College Courses:
Students and Faculty in the Archives
Robin M. Katz
Archivist / Co-Director of SA...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• Innovative postsecondary education program
which uses primary sources to bui...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• 3 year (2011-13), US Dept of Ed FIPSE grant
• Staffing model
– Co-Directors:...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• Centered around class visits to the archives
• Over four semesters (Fall 201...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• Our Teaching Philosophy
– Goals and objectives
– No show-and –tell
– Activel...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• Specific vs. generic prompts
– Why did Henry Ward Beecher write this letter?...
Questions to ask if teaching with archives
• Why even use archives?
– Answer: course objectives and visit goals
– Could be...
Questions to ask if teaching with archives
• Overall assignment structure? Models include:
– Scaffolded research paper
– O...
Questions to ask if teaching with archives
• In the archives: What introductions are needed?
• Small group work? We sugges...
Questions to ask if teaching with archives
• Assignments, grading, feedback?
• Returning to the archives independently?
– ...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• We also do:
– Campus visits, workshops, tours
– Class blogs required of all ...
Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA)
• Paid Summer Fellowships for Undergrads
– Individual research projects
– Cont...
Sharing our findings
• Independent evaluators have found that SAFA
students are more engaged and perform better
their peer...
Findings: improved observation skills
• Pre / post qualitative assessments of students
• Q: Why might this document be wor...
Findings: improved observation skills
• Pre / post qualitative assessments of students
• Q: Why might this document be wor...
Findings: improved academic performance
• Just one class at LIU Brooklyn
• Key Finding: Students in SAFA courses… had
cons...
Why does SAFA work?
• High Impact Learning Practices
– Work with first-year seminars, learning communities
– Common intell...
Dissemination: coming soon from SAFA!
• More Presentations
• Publications
• Project-level website to launch fall 2013 at
h...
Robin M. Katz
Archivist / Co-Director of SAFA
rkatz@brooklynhistory.org
#safabhs @robinmkatz
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Using Primary Sources in College Courses: Lessons from Students and Faculty in the Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society

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Katz, Robin M. "Using Primary Sources in College Courses: Lessons from Students and Faculty in the Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society." Panel on teaching with archives organized by ACRL/NY. NYU Poly. Brooklyn, NY. April 30, 2013. Speaker and panelist.

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Using Primary Sources in College Courses: Lessons from Students and Faculty in the Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society

  1. 1. Using Primary Sources in College Courses: Students and Faculty in the Archives Robin M. Katz Archivist / Co-Director of SAFA
  2. 2. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • Innovative postsecondary education program which uses primary sources to build document analysis, information literacy, and critical thinking skills in first-year and early-career undergraduates
  3. 3. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • 3 year (2011-13), US Dept of Ed FIPSE grant • Staffing model – Co-Directors: Public Historian and Archivist – Invaluable part-time stack assistant • 3 schools: City Tech, LIU, St. Francis • 18 partner faculty (19 total) • Wide variety of disciplines, classes, students – Purpose: to show a wide variety of models
  4. 4. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • Centered around class visits to the archives • Over four semesters (Fall 2011 – Spring 2013) – 1,100 individual students – 63 courses – 100 class visits to Brooklyn Historical Society
  5. 5. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • Our Teaching Philosophy – Goals and objectives – No show-and –tell – Actively use materials – Less is more – Document Analysis • Compared to traditional bibliographic instruction and museum education
  6. 6. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • Specific vs. generic prompts – Why did Henry Ward Beecher write this letter? – Who is the creator? What type of document is this? • Sample handouts available
  7. 7. Questions to ask if teaching with archives • Why even use archives? – Answer: course objectives and visit goals – Could be about content or methodology – Knowledge, Skills, Attitude • What do they have? – When selecting materials, consider: length, difficulty, size; literacies needed; can “excerpt” long textual materials – Less is more: you don’t need to see everything, just to select something that works
  8. 8. Questions to ask if teaching with archives • Overall assignment structure? Models include: – Scaffolded research paper – One-off handout and blogging activity • Visit structure: one-off, multiple visits? • How will students get context? • How will archives interact with general/school library resources, class lectures and readings?
  9. 9. Questions to ask if teaching with archives • In the archives: What introductions are needed? • Small group work? We suggest 3-4 students – Set up, groupings, stations, rotations? – Independent, interdependent, group work? • Handouts? – Fill out, or use for discussion? • Facilitation – Who does what? Zoning, stations, hands-off? • Wrap Ups
  10. 10. Questions to ask if teaching with archives • Assignments, grading, feedback? • Returning to the archives independently? – Must be structured – We prefer for it to be required, not optional
  11. 11. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • We also do: – Campus visits, workshops, tours – Class blogs required of all courses – Summer Institute (faculty professional development) • National Partners in VT, RI, PA – A chance to export SAFA models to other contexts – We have already learned: SAFA is an urban program
  12. 12. Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA) • Paid Summer Fellowships for Undergrads – Individual research projects – Contribute to a small exhibit in groups – Gain exposure to museums and libraries – http://safa.brooklynhistory.org/fellowship2012 – http://safa.brooklynhistory.org/2013-fellowship-app • Lessons from the fellowship: – creative or scholarly projects in all disciplines – potential for stand-alone programs
  13. 13. Sharing our findings • Independent evaluators have found that SAFA students are more engaged and perform better their peers • This year, will receive and analyze retention data • 2012 Evaluation Report available online at http://safa.brooklynhistory.org/docs/Eval-Report- 2012.pdf
  14. 14. Findings: improved observation skills • Pre / post qualitative assessments of students • Q: Why might this document be worth preserving in an archive? PRE POST Students noting a single feature or giving a vague response 72% 49% Students noting multiple physical features 28% 51%
  15. 15. Findings: improved observation skills • Pre / post qualitative assessments of students • Q: Why might this document be worth preserving in an archive?Sample PRE responses Sample POST responses This is a photo from the past To show how society valued entertainment. Because it showed what was going on at that moment. [It] shows how technology was progressing in the US. It gives insight… to what life was like during the 1960s. It shows how people were sending postal cards through the telegrams and how it was different… than… today.
  16. 16. Findings: improved academic performance • Just one class at LIU Brooklyn • Key Finding: Students in SAFA courses… had consistently higher rates of course completion, course passing, …and higher course grades than students in comparable non-SAFA courses. SAFA NON-SAFA Completion Rate 96.9% 76.7% Passing Rate 91.9% 48% Grade of B or better 60.7% 30.3%
  17. 17. Why does SAFA work? • High Impact Learning Practices – Work with first-year seminars, learning communities – Common intellectual experience (among a cohort) – Collaborative assignments and projects – Undergraduate research – Diversity/global learning – Community-based learning – www.aacu.org/leap/hip.cfm
  18. 18. Dissemination: coming soon from SAFA! • More Presentations • Publications • Project-level website to launch fall 2013 at http://safa.brooklynhistory.org – Project documentation – Evaluators’ findings and analysis – Articles on pedagogy – Sample syllabi, assignments, activities
  19. 19. Robin M. Katz Archivist / Co-Director of SAFA rkatz@brooklynhistory.org #safabhs @robinmkatz

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