Building Inclusive Academic Communities: Case Studies in History, Classics and Archaeology

In the UK, the Higher Education Academy has various subject centers for promoting excellence in teaching and learning in higher education, including one for History, Classics and Archaeology. Recently, Kimm Curran and Lisa Lavender from HCA put together an edited volume of case studies (which included my own modest contribution on my oral examination experiment a few years ago at Roehampton U). I can’t find the volume on the website, which I suspect is just an oversite; the contributions are all enormously interesting, and I recreate the table of contents below:

  • Teaching Core Skills in History via WebCT: Quizzes (Max Jones)
  • Embedding Time Management Skills (Alan Greaves)
  • Divide and Grid (Helen Kaufman)
  • Using VLEs to Improve Student Learning in Large Humanities Courses (Max Jones)
  • Weblogs and module journals in History (Matthew Ward)
  • Blended Learning in the Delivery of Skills: engaging the distant learner (Sam Riches)
  • Does Inquiry-based learning increase student engagement? The case of a first year history survey course (Jamie Wood & Alex Ralston)
  • Group debates as a form of assessment (Fiona McHardy)
  • Using the Oral Examination for Promoting Undergraduates’ Learning in Roman Archaeology: A New Lecturer’s Improvised Experience (Shawn Graham)
  • A Thousand Years in One Semester: the application of good practice to design, teaching and assessment in an historical survey course (Rosemary Gill)
  • History and Employability (Steve Caunce)

The HCA Subject Center is also calling for papers for a conference on archaeological education:

The Higher Education Academy’s Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology and the Council for British Archaeology have joined together to host a joint conference on Archaeology in Education in September 2010.

We are now asking for conference proposals that address aspects of teaching archaeology at any educational levels from Key Stage 1 through to PhD, and in any context from the avocational to the professional.  Conference proposals might be for either formally delivered papers, or a proposal to host a workshop based around a specific issue for discussion or activities.   In particular we would like to see proposals that focus on teaching and learning issues and how they can be addressed, and/or case study examples of specific learning.
To register an interest in attending or to make a proposal, please send your name and affiliation (if any), the title of your paper or workshop and an abstract of 100 words to Lyn Hughes at

Also worth checking out is the session proposal for TAG2010:  Should students design their own curricula?

The Subject Centre is proposing to hold a session at TAG 2010, this year held in Bristol. The sessions will be called ‘Taking Ownership of the Course: student involvement in the archaeology curriculum’ and it will explore whether students should be actively involved in designing their archaeology curriculum? How important is the experience and age of teaching staff? Are there benefits that students bring from their recent experiences of learning?

Recent discussions at TAG, and elsewhere, have revealed tensions between what lecturers would ideally like their students to know about archaeological theory, and how students would like to learn about theory. Sometimes, these different opinions can be framed in terms of the difference between acquiring a depth of knowledge or an intellectual history, on the one hand, contrasted with a desire to be engaged in a debate or difference of opinion to stimulate interest, on the other. Lying at the heart of the matter is the ever-expanding nature of archaeological enquiry, the increasingly restricted time available to students to give to their studies, and a modular system for the university curriculum that tries to balance directed learning and student choice.

At a national level, the funding councils that support universities have asked institutions to encourage greater student engagement in their learning. The implication of this desire is that students are not particularly engaged at the moment, and if they were more were engaged, students might benefit more from their university education, and express higher levels of satisfaction with their time spent at university.

It seems appropriate to explore this idea at a student conference like TAG, and papers and discussion will reflect on the tensions in designing an archaeology curriculum, the possibilities, benefits and problems of student engagement in its design, and effective strategies by which students might become more knowledgeable about engaging with their learning environments.

To contribute a paper, please contact Lyn Hughes at

TAG website

The entire website (both the Academy and the various subject centers) are well worth exploring for anyone interested in pedagogy & practice.

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