Teaching with Archival, Botanical, and Museum Collections

Resource Title:
Teaching with Archival, Botanical, and Museum Collections

Sample Activities and Assignments
Articles and Additional Resources
Grants to Fund Teaching with and in the Collections
Campus Resources

Teaching with archival, botanical, and museum collections can help students to evaluate evidence in primary documents, develop skills in visual and contextual analysis, collect and examine raw data, extract and synthesize information from a large amount of undifferentiated material, and correlate different sources in order to make informed arguments.

The links in this section provide examples of course assignments and activities that make use of the university’s public goods collections to enhance student learning, including articles on the benefits for student learning and how to assess it, and offer a list of campus and external resources for instructors and students.

Sample Activities and Assignments

Archival Document Worksheet (Musicology)
Questions to guide students’ note-taking on primary source documents.

BiblioBouts Game (School of Information)
Computer game in which students learn about the library research process by compiling a bibliography on a research topic and evaluating their peers’ sources.  Click here for more on the development and evaluation of the project.

Capstone Essay Assignment (Asian Languages and Cultures)
Final essay assignment that asks students to discuss two “objects” from the university’s museum or archival collections in light of the themes, key terms, and readings of the course.

Field Trip Activities and Assignments (Anthropology and Archaeology)
Sample activities and assignments for a museum field trip as well as a role playing activity for students to determine criteria to identify the veracity of artifacts.

Library “Road Rally” (History)
A scavenger hunt to encourage students’ library research skills.

Podcast Assignment (Biology)
Instructions for assignment where students each create a podcast for the Exhibit Museum of Natural History; students fact-check and review one another’s creations, with the end products made available at the museum for the public.

Reflecting on Unpublished Diaries (English)
Two assignments: questions to inform a presentation on a diary from the Clements library and guidelines for the final essay assignment on a diary.

Thinking Critically about Museums (American Culture)
Three assignments that ask students to consider how museums condition the way we understand the objects in them.

Examples of more extensive uses (Projects by past Public Goods Council grant awardees)

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Articles and Additional Resources

Reading & Responding to Exhibitions, Tang Museum, Faculty & Teaching (web page)
Instructors at Skidmore College report the ways in which they have used the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery to engage students in disciplines as varied as English, Chemistry, and Psychology. 

Doris K. Malkmus, Teaching Undergraduates with Primary Sources: Highlights of Survey
Reports the findings of a 2007-2008 online survey of 4,002 practicing history faculty and instructors to determine how often and in what ways they use primary sources to teach undergraduate history courses.  Respondents also reported on barriers and benefits to teaching with primary sources.

Tools for Assessing Experiential Learning
 Suggests basic tools for instructors teaching courses that involve experiential learning (where students participate in programs, events, and projects outside of the classroom).

Gillian Spraggs, Using Archives in Higher Education History Teaching (2008)
Identifies benefits for students in engaging in archival work, offers suggestions for planning visits to archives, and includes examples of archival research projects in different undergraduate classes.

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Grants to Fund Teaching with and in the Collections


Arts at Michigan

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Campus Resources

Arts at Michigan

Arts Consortium

Arts of Citizenship

Arts on Earth

Bentley Historical Library

Clements Library
One-Time Class Visit Request form

Cultural Collections Council

U-M Museum of Natural History

Information for U-M faculty
Resources for Teaching at the Exhibit Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Resources for students and instructors at the Kelsey

Map Library

Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Museum of Anthropology

Museum of Art
Resources for Teaching at the University of Michigan Museum of Art
Object Study and Curatorial Study Center Resources

Papyrology Library

Special Collections Library

Overview of Special Collections and ways in which they work with students and faculty

University Library

University Musical Society

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