Engagement, enthusiasm, and empowerment: participatory learning in Special Collections instruction
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conference papers and proceedings
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Engagement, enthusiasm, and empowerment: participatory learning in Special Collections instruction Students less than enthused? Energize them with active learning, critical pedagogy, and reflective teaching! UMBC Special Collections faculty Lindsey Loeper and Susan Graham have developed an interactive one-shot instruction session that fosters a welcoming environment and allows students to practice visual and archival literacy. Our poster will showcase a practical example of primary source instruction through the lens of active learning, critical pedagogy, and reflective teaching. The example comes from a selection of 200-level courses in the arts and humanities. Early iterations of these classes were structured like a show and tell of the prized collections. Although we were enthusiastic, the students were not as engaged as they could be. We have developed the session to be more meaningful and participatory, incorporating aspects of critical feminist pedagogy. We emphasize diverse formats and creators and prompt the students to question what has historically been collected in archives, and by whom. For this session we designed an active learning exercise where the students form groups and cycle through stations with varied formats of archival materials centered around a theme. They complete a worksheet that asks questions to encourage critical thinking about context, creators, and compare the research experience of using different formats. They have ample time at each station to handle, examine, and informally discuss the materials; we have seen firsthand that this greatly increases engagement and participation in discussion. The session concludes with each group sharing their experiences and insights.With this more active approach, we have witnessed deeper analysis, students making connections, and the thoughtful application of the ACRL Visual literacy standards and ACRL Information Literacy frames such as “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual,” “Information Creation as a Process,” and “Scholarship as Conversation.” We aim to foster an enthusiasm for original research and a sense of empowerment that they can have a voice in scholarly communication.
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