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K-State Today

October 12, 2021

Enrich student learning with archival materials

Submitted by Cailin Riley

The Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, which houses the university's rarest records and documents, offers a variety of services and resources for instructors. Special Collections materials can be used to introduce students to primary source research, assist with individual or collaborative research projects or as a supplement for teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.

According to a study published by Peer Review, utilizing archival materials can have a positive effect on student engagement, performance and, in some cases, student retention. Teaching with archival materials also can improve student engagement and performance through high-impact educational practices advocated by the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

"Every semester, my Introduction to Historical Thinking class visits the archives and Special Collections," said Suzanne Orr, assistant professor of history. "For many students, it is their first time conducting historical research using primary sources. The experience helps prepare students for conducting research in the future, whether it's for personal reasons, such as learning about their family's history, or for graduate school. It's one of my favorite classes of the semester."

Instructors interested in using archival materials at K-State can take advantage of instructional sessions on topics such as:

  • The history of books, printing and publishing.
  • The St. John's Bible.
  • Subject specific curriculum support.
  • Research methods using primary sources.

Special Collections staff and faculty members will work with instructors to define specific learning objectives, thoughtfully select documents to assist with learning and design activities that will be most appropriate for the class, whether it involves a group discussion, research project or paper.

If you would like to arrange a class session or visit, please fill out the instruction request form or contact Special Collections at libsc@k-state.edu

Staff will also offer a tour of their spaces and selected collections on Thursday, Oct. 28. Participants must register online to attend the tour.