Why Teach with Special Collections & University Archives?
Studies have shown that bringing students to the archives has a positive effect on student engagement, performance, and, in some cases, student retention. Teaching with archives improves student engagement and performance through high-impact educational practices advocated by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
Our Teaching Philosophy
Scheduling a Class Visit
We welcome opportunities to teach and co-teach classes on primary-source and original research as well as to suggest and arrange relevant materials for your students to work with. We are also happy to work with you on class projects incorporating original research with our primary sources.
Document Analysis Activity for a Single 1.5 hour Class Visit
15 Minutes: Introduction to what archive is, how it operates, and how researchers interact with the material. Brief introduction to document analysis and selected collection.
30 Minutes: Document stations exercise- split the class into five 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 3 minutes to report back on their findings. The groups report in order of the dates of their documents to show causality and establish a chronological narrative. Instructor highlights the takeaways and segue to the next group. After the reports, spend 10 minutes in class discussions
In addition to in-class use of special collections, the department's reading rooms also serve as research labs as students complete course assignments by engaging with primary recourses.
Examples of Course Assignments
1. Students visit the archives where they are introduced to a wide variety of primary sources related to their topic. Each student selects a source which will form the basis of a final research project. Over the course of several weeks, students analyze their chosen primary source and conduct additional secondary source research which they synthesize in a final paper.
2. Students use maps, city directories, newspaper archives as well as university and public library archives to construct histories of Norfolk neighborhoods, cultural movements, or other communities. The information and photographs are used to produce websites so that the public could have access to the information.
3. Students use the university archives to investigate how and why certain communities, student groups, educational practices, or geographic locations at ODU have changed. Students create a digital and/or physical exhibition and present their findings.
4. Students use rare books, archives materials, and digital film collections to study disease and other public health topics in Hampton Roads. Popular topics include yellow-fever, dentistry, and women's reproductive issues. Students create a short documentary or podcast episode about their topic.