Situating Student Learning in Rich Contexts: A Constructionist Approach to Digital Archives Education

Anthony Cocciolo


Objective - This paper sought to determine whether a constructionist pedagogical approach to digital archives education could positively influence student perceptions of their learning. Constructionism is a learning theory that places students in the role of designers and emphasizes creating tangible artifacts in a social environment. This theory was used in the instructional design of the Digital Archive Creation Project (DACP), a major component of a digital archives course offered to students enrolled in a Master’s program in library science at Pratt Institute School of Library and Information Science.

Methods - Participants were the 31 students enrolled in the DACP during the fall and spring semesters of 2010. They were surveyed as to their perceived learning outcomes as a result of their engagement with the DACP.

Results - Results indicated that students perceived strong increases in their learning following their engagement in the DACP, particularly in terms of their skills, confidence, understanding of topics covered in other courses, and overall understanding. Factors that influenced these increases include the collaborative teamwork, the role of the facilitator or instructor, and individual effort.

Conclusion - The project demonstrated that a constructionist pedagogical approach to digital archives education positively impacted students’ perceptions of their learning.


library and information science education, digital archives, learning theory, constructionism

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