Identifying Cool, Old Stuff for New Teaching Methods—An Archivist Looks at Teaching with Primary Sources

Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:20 AM
Room 203 (Hynes Convention Center)
Doris Malkmus , Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
New approaches to teaching undergraduate history education rely on primary sources. This study, based on a 2008-2009 online survey of 627 academic historians and 25 follow-up interviews, captures a snapshot of the current use of online, published, and archival primary sources used in new teaching methods.  It also provides an overview of barriers to using various types of primary sources in undergraduate classes and an analysis of use according to institution type, faculty status, and years teaching.  The study also identified the kinds of primary sources that students enjoy as well as approaches that students find challenging.  The analysis of interviews found three distinct ways faculty use primary sources across the four year history curiculum—analyzing selected primary sources in freshman courses, building research skills in historical methods classes, and doing some primary source research in upper division and capstone courses.  It also found room for evolution in the librarian/archivist role to include creating and updating portals that link to new online primary sources.  Functioning as online web-bibliographies, these sub-field/topically based portals would update faculty on the rapidly changing range of online primary sources.