A Constructivist Approach for Introducing Undergraduate Students to Special Collections and Archival Research

Silvia Vong


In the last five years, a wealth of literature has been published on collaborations and practical approaches to engaging undergraduate students with special collections and archival materials. However, there is a gap in the literature on pedagogical approaches to teaching undergraduates with special collections. Constructivism, a learning theory, centers on the idea that students are able to construct their own meaning from their learning environment and experiences with guidance from a teacher, and that students possess prior knowledge from their own experiences. Prior knowledge helps to connect students to new knowledge with support from the teacher. Rather than create a learning environment that treats students as passive learners with nothing to contribute, the constructivist approach involves students in the learning process by engaging them in dialogue with the teacher and their peers, situating them through hands-on practice and helping them develop an awareness of their own learning preferences and experiences. The constructivist learning theory acts as a guide for designing lesson plans and activities.

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