Student Archival Research Activity: An Exploratory Study

Xiaomu Zhou
2008 The American Archivist  
A b s t r a c t This paper explores archival instruction at the Bentley Historical Library and students' archival research activities over one semester. It examines the roles of the class instructor and reference archivist in instructing students in critical and contextual thinking in the archival research setting. The paper also investigates the specific needs of students in an archival setting, the skills they require, and their responses to archival research. The findings suggest methods
more » ... s instructors and reference archivists can use to improve archival research classes to serve the needs of students. A suggested model of archival and student research activities depicts visually the process of student archival research activities, incorporating the forms of knowledge and skills that students need at different stages of the research process, as well as archivists' roles in these stages. I n t r o d u c t i o n Each semester, the Bentley Historical Library (BHL) at the University of Michigan provides ten to fifteen class orientations to undergraduate students. These students come from a variety of departments and schools, and their instructors require or encourage the students to use archival materials for their research projects. For most students, this is their first archival experience. During the semester, students develop archival research skills under the instruction and guidance of their professors and reference archivists. For many university archives and manuscript repositories, as well as for other historical collections near college campuses, students are a major research constituency, visiting archives for research projects, term papers, or dissertations. 1 Their initial experience, however, may influence their motivation for
doi:10.17723/aarc.71.2.n426270367qk311l fatcat:z2n76ekc4zh2zoae2g7mzww574