Global Perspectives on Archaeological Field Schools: Constructions of Knowledge and Experience

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Articles

  1. Constructions of Knowledge and Experience
  2. List of publications
  3. Global Perspectives on Archaeological Field Schools: Constructions of Knowledge and Experience
  4. Dr Alasdair Brooks — University of Leicester

Historical Archaeology 45 4 : Australian Archaeology Antiquit y Key Contacts. Student complaints procedure. The University of Leicester is committed to equal access to our facilities. Personal tools Web Editor Log in. Search Site only in current section. Advanced Search…. Search Site. They are also important vehicles by which research students and academic staff carry out fieldwork research, often away from the environs of their home institution.

Field schools are teaching and research projects, but they also take place within a contemporary local context. This is the first ever collection of studies examining the tensions between teaching, research and local socio-cultural conditions, and explores the range of experiences associated with field schools.

About the Author Dr. Young 14 Field Schools: people, places and things in the present Harold Mytum. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Archaeologies of Internment. The internment of civilian and military prisoners became an increasingly common feature of conflicts in The internment of civilian and military prisoners became an increasingly common feature of conflicts in the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

Prison camps, though often hastily constructed and just as quickly destroyed, have left their marks in the archaeological View Product. Archaeology and Preservation of Gendered Landscapes. Historical archaeology of landscapes initially followed the pattern of Classical Archaeology by studying elite men's Historical archaeology of landscapes initially followed the pattern of Classical Archaeology by studying elite men's gardens.

Over time, particularly in North America, the field has expanded to cover larger settlement areas, but still often with ungendered and elite focus.


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The project was co-directed by the authors, and was additionally supervised by three graduate student teaching assistants, each designated to work with a group of four to six students. The blog was built using a Wordpress. The site served as a course website, with the class syllabus and course readings also available for the students. Aside from the reading selections being locked behind a password, the website was entirely visible and shared widely with the public through CAP's already established social media accounts. With this in mind, a section of the website specifically addressed the public, noting that this portion of the website should be understood to be a 'digital classroom' for our students in which the public was invited to participate, but readers needed to be mindful that this was a space for learning.

While no problems were encountered during the field school with spam or inappropriate comments, this did set some ground rules for those who chose to participate and communicate with the students.

This emphasizes the point discussed previously, that the field school blog was an 'open classroom' in which the public was invited to participate in the education of students. Members of the public, therefore, participated more as co-instructors, serving as a collaborator in the education of students, than as members of the public learning about archaeology although we hoped they would learn from the posts, as well. This approach was further emphasized by an email sent by the course instructors to a segment of our regular followers and colleagues, asking them to read and comment on the posts regularly.

Each student was required to write three blog posts over the course of the five weeks. The first was done as an instructional exercise during the first day lectures. This exercise included a brief lecture on the use of social media for public engagement, and then students went through a guided process to publish an introductory blog post.

At a campus computer laboratory, students logged in to their blog accounts and drafted an introductory blog post highlighting who they were, why they took the field school, and what they hoped to learn. A photo of each student was taken at the beginning of the class, so they could learn how to import photos into the post.

Constructions of Knowledge and Experience

This exercise not only provided instruction in the use of the blog, but it also gave students a chance to reflect on their upcoming experience, and allowed the field school instructors, TAs, and the public an opportunity to get to know the students. It is worth noting that the materials used to teach the students about blog writing were largely this single lecture, and one-on-one interaction with the course instructors.

In , when this class was designed, few archaeologists had been using social media as a tool for digital engagement—CAP was an early adopter in the use of Twitter and Facebook for live updating, for example. The instructions provided, therefore, were based primarily on the social media experience of Brock, and the public archaeology experience of Goldstein. In , a similar approach and strategy was used, although we incorporated some of the lessons learned in Each additional week, half of the class was assigned to draft and publish a blog post.

This resulted in each student writing two additional posts. Staggering the due dates for posts over the course of the field school ensured that blog content was distributed over the five-week experience, making them easier to grade and also easier to consume by the public. It also ensured that blog posts were written about the entire process of the field school, not just about the final weeks. Students were expected to use their personal time to complete their posts, although the occasional rain day could also be used to write.

Students chose the blog post topic. This provided students with agency in the process, and also resulted in a wide variety of topics, ranging from posts about methodology, types of artefacts, possible interpretations, and more abstract posts about teamwork or working with the public. Despite being given the opportunity to choose their own topics, the decision about what to write was often difficult for students.

Each day, students were encouraged by the staff not only to consider the work they did and objects they discovered in the context of the site, but also as something they could possibly share with the public. When students were excited about a discovery, the staff channelled that excitement towards a possible blog topic, giving the student an opportunity to delve deeper into their discovery. Students also took part in the daily, in-person public archaeology that happened at the site.

Each day, tour guides were selected from the students to show visitors around the site. These guides started the day by giving the site directors a tour of the excavations, and were coached in their approach, asked questions, and learned about the site. Engaging with on-site visitors was an opportunity for students to learn about more 'traditional' public archaeology, but also to help them understand the types of questions that members of the public typically ask, and to practice explaining concepts to them.

Coaching students in the field on interacting with the public helped inform their efforts online. While students were given the freedom to choose topics and write the posts, their topics and posts still had to be approved by an instructor before they were made public. This ensured that the content presented to the public included accurate information. It also gave the instructors a chance to assess the student's understanding of the concepts and teach the student about writing for a public audience. In some cases, this process delayed the publication of the post beyond the arbitrarily established due date, but ensured that the student produced a quality product.

The major component of this project was the use of a blog as a tool for teaching students about archaeology and public engagement, while also educating the public about archaeology and the site being excavated. Some of the posts written by students highlight the ways in which this innovative combination allowed the students to examine and reflect on their experience in ways that would not have traditionally been a part of the class.

In his post 'The Problem with the Past', one student attempted to identify a unique artefact that was found during excavations. Typically, this type of analysis would have waited until after the excavations, but he decided to use the artefact as one of his blog post entries. The post itself describes the amount of work he put into finding out what the artefact was, only to come up empty handed: 'After downloading a program from a government website harder than it sounds and going through different patents twice , I return empty-handed.

Two and a half weeks ago, I set out to discover the true heritage of the knob which reads June 11, and am no closer than when I started' Vaughn While he is visibly frustrated, he takes it as an opportunity to teach the public about the 'fickleness of the past', and discovered that, for himself, this exercise 'reignites his interest in the field' Vaughn This post demonstrates the ability of this project to take the instruction of a field school into multiple levels of understanding and learning: this student goes beyond the field to do extra research about an object he found.

He also demonstrates his understanding of public archaeology by recognising the difficulty of this research as something important for the public to understand. Lastly, he gives the public a 'behind the scenes' look at the research process, not just at the results of that research.

List of publications

In their post 'No Artifacts? No Problem', a group of students discussed their distress with a unit in which they found very few artefacts. However, using archaeological concepts, they explained how their excavation unit still contributed to understanding the past, by exploring the archaeological concepts of stratigraphy and context. These are important concepts that hit a number of our objectives: first, it demonstrates the students' understanding of archaeology as more than just 'things', second, it identifies the students' knowledge of archaeological concepts, and third, they effectively explain these concepts to the public Wancour and Levine Some posts dealt with the issue of how we draw conclusions in archaeology.

One student examined how conclusions are drawn through creating hypotheses, gathering evidence, and connecting the dots: an advanced understanding of the social sciences that is even more difficult to explain to the public.

Global Perspectives on Archaeological Field Schools: Constructions of Knowledge and Experience

Nonetheless, the student was able to articulate these difficult concepts, demonstrating their understanding of archaeological research design, a topic rarely examined by students during archaeological field school Raether Another post highlights 'imagination' as a critical tool: 'we have to place ourselves in the past, see how the land was, see the people's thoughts, and see the material they used.

This is why imagination is just as important in an archaeologist's toolkit as a trowel. Our imagination helps us draw conclusions, helps decide our next steps, and help bridge the path between past and present' Holt The understanding that archaeologists must use their imagination to place themselves in the past is a critical part of archaeological investigation, one that archaeologists often employ to understand and evaluate the past in a critical manner.

Although we typically do not use the word 'imagination', the student used it as a way to make a complex concept accessible to himself and to the public. One particular post covers an integral part of being on a field school. Entitled 'Team Work', this student stressed a component of the archaeological field school that is not explicitly discussed as an archaeological concept or method, but is nonetheless integral to a successful project. This student used the blog as a means of identifying a transferrable skill that he will be able to use in any field or career Jones While this was not a specific objective of the project, providing a blog as a medium for students to reflect on their experience allowed this student to think abstractly about his time in the field, and to share his observations.

Dr Alasdair Brooks — University of Leicester

While this may not have been what a member of the public would have expected when reading an archaeology blog, it provides them with a fuller, well-rounded view of the archaeological process as one that requires a large team to accomplish. Without a reflective venue such as the blog, students would not have the opportunity to draw these connections, and the public would not have a chance to understand them.

The blog posts themselves demonstrate the effectiveness of the blog project in students' ability to advance their understanding of archaeological concepts and communicate with the public.

Sifting Through History: The Archaeology Field School

A survey distributed to students after the course was completed provided additional information about the effectiveness of the project in meeting our learning goals. The questions on the survey addressed the four objectives of this portion of the course: 1 the ability of the blog to improve their understanding of archaeological concepts, 2 learn about public archaeology, 3 build digital literacy, and 4 connect digital tools with cultural heritage.

The survey used Survey Monkey, and nine students from the field school responded to the questionnaire. All of our respondents indicated that the blog enhanced their understanding of archaeological field methods. Five students said the blog helped them 'somewhat', one 'a lot', and three 'significantly'. Those who identified it as a positive experience articulated the value of the blog as a means of advancing their understanding of not only what they were doing, but why they did it and how it aided in interpretation:.

Another student notes that, while he saw the importance of the blog to public archaeology, it 'gave us a chance to critically think about the research and what it affected'. The blog therefore helped students elevate their level of comprehension. Not only did it improve their understanding of the skills they learned in the field, but it helped them consider how those skills are applied to research.

In fact, as the latter student implies, the blog gave students 'a chance' they otherwise may not have had to think critically about their excavations.