Changing the Way We Teach the Ancient World – Assessment

Changing the Way We Teach the Ancient World:  Developing Statistical Tools for Assessment

This project aims to enhance the learning environment of undergraduates who study the ancient world by integrating a hands-on-experience at the Kelsey Museum. The goal is to move students away from the traditional mode of history classes, in which they are mainly passive obtainers of information (listening to lectures, reading, taking notes, etc.) and to allow them to physically interact with archaeological artifacts, the “stuff” of which history consists. Through the development of new teaching tools and the integration of existing, but rarely used, IT resources (such as Google Earth), we aim to create a new learning setting defined by active, investigative participation of students, before, during, and after class. A secondary goal of this project is to tackle the never ending pedagogical challenge of teaching about a world twice removed, both chronologically and geographically (to say nothing of language and culture), from young undergraduates in North America. The various tools we wish to develop aim to surmount, if only partially, the gap between students and the ancient world, by recreating some of that ancient world and making it accessible here in Ann Arbor. The team working on this project consists of faculty and researchers from three different units on campus – the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES), the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the Language Resource Center (LRC). At this stage, we propose to develop and test these methodologies in one particular class, ACABS 277, a large-enrollment course about the history of Israel/Palestine.

The project team had begun preliminary assessment efforts on the impact of the phase one image database prior to the funding of this project under the Quick Wins program. An initial survey was developed in collaboration with CRLT, while the LRC conducted small scale, informal user interviews. This initial data was instrumental in guiding us towards refining the design, and migrating our database to a more flexible, substantial and sustainable tool with increased usability and function. The next phase of assessment occurred at the beginning of the Winter 2014 semester, where the new image database as well as the brand new Kelsey Experience website were introduced as primary source materials for the course. At the beginning of the semester, a preliminary survey was distributed gauging general interest in the subject matter, prior experience with the region of study and with museums in general. A secondary survey has been developed to administer during the last week of the semester to evaluate the students experience and perceptions of the newly implemented tools. In addition, based on the preliminary results obtained from the surveys, we plan to develop and host a couple of focus groups to obtain greater qualitative data to assess the experience at a more detailed level. The necessity of further usability testing will be determined upon reviewing the results gleaned from the assessment completed this semester.

Leading into the discovery phase of the TLTC grant, the preliminary data gathered during our initial pilot phase as well as phase one of the TLTC grant will be analyzed in conjunction with deeper data gleaned from data captured by Ctools and the web analytics tools. Dr. Steve Lonn, experienced in analyzing learning analytics will lead the project team in determining future avenues for research. The project team will also consult with CRLT, as well as other possible campus resources such as CSCAR to determine the best method for proceeding further. Upon the hire of a postdoc in Spring of 2014, we will proceed to carry out the development of further assessment models, in collaboration with the expert consultants brought into the project.

Project Team:
Yaron Eliav, Near Eastern Studies, College of Literature, Science and the Arts
Nikki Branch, Near Eastern Studies, College of Literature, Science and the Arts
Sharon Herbert, Professor of Classical Studies and Curator, Kelsey Museum
Julie Evershed, Director, Language Resource Center
R. Thomas Bray, Digital Media Commons
Steven Lonn – USE Lab, Digital Media Commons

Project website: