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Teaching with Special Collections and University Archives

Examples of Class Activities

Class Activity: Group Document Analysis

We encourage instructors to collaborate with us to craft well-designed exercises in which students work collaboratively. For most regularly-sized documents, the ideal group size is 3 – 4 students. 

  1. Document Analysis Activity( (can be applied to any of our physical or digital collections

    • ‚Äč15 Minutes: Introduction to what an archive is, how it operates, and how researchers interact with the material.

    • 30 Minutes: Digital document stations exercise- split the class into groups and give each group their selected documents. Students analyze the documents and discuss them in their group. Worksheets are provided to facilitate discussion. Each group prepares a brief summary of their findings to share with the rest of the class during the wrap up. 

    • 30 Minutes: Wrap up- gather students back together and give each group time to report back on their findings. Instructor highlights the takeaways and segue to the next group. After the reports, spend 10 minutes in class discussion

  2. Digital Video Analysis Activity Example:

    • Topics: Bioethics, Health Sciences, Women's History, Media Studies, English/writing
    • Students use the Florence Crittenton Home Collection to investigate issues related to the history of reproductive rights, cultural attitudes toward women, and bioethics in Norfolk Virginia.
      • 10 minutes: Standard introduction
      • 20 minutes: Discussion about the Crittenton Home and the ethical principles and laws regarding medical records in the collection, including requests from children and mothers affiliated with the Crittenton Home.
      • 30 minutes: The class splits into groups and views the WTAR/WTKR historical news footage of the Crittenton Home and discusses the footage in their group. A worksheet with custom prompts will be provided based on the course.
      • 30 Minutes: Wrap up- gather students back together and give each group 3 minutes to report back on their findings. Instructor highlights the takeaways and segue to the next group. After the reports, spend 10 minutes in class discussions. 
      • Final assignment could include a research paper, creative writing exercise, documentary, etc.
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