Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Teacher and the Trowel: Engaging Students in the Classroom through Archaeology
by Frees, Jamie Skylar, M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2014, 131; 1556506
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis introduces a niche job for public archaeologists with an interest in education. I suggest that public archaeologists take advantage of striking visuals, fascinating mysteries, and amazing achievements of past human cultures to develop archaeological lesson plans for K-12 classrooms. In this thesis, I address two audiences, archaeology educators, the archaeologists developing lesson plans, and K-12 teachers, who, in my view, will benefit from the material archaeologists can offer in their lesson plans. Archaeology can provide educators with fuel for creativity to teach virtually any topic. Using their expertise in the discipline, archaeologists can develop engaging and effective lessons for pre-collegiate students. I developed this thesis to provide other archaeology educators with a guide for using archaeology as a tool to begin developing lesson plans for science, social studies, mathematics, and English language arts. Before developing lesson plans, archaeologists must acquaint themselves with the landscape of archaeology education. Archaeologists must be aware of the ethics that guide the practice of ethical archaeology, such as stewardship and the protection of cultural heritage. In order to make their lesson plans applicable in the classroom, archaeologists also need to familiarize themselves with the educational standards, such as the Common Core State Standards implemented across the United States in the public education system. This thesis uses a general cognitive learning theory with three key learning principles: 1) students build on preconceptions they bring to a new learning situation, 2) students develop competence in an area of inquiry when they transfer knowledge from one context to another, and 3) students should perform metacognition and monitor their own learning process. In addition to the use of a general cognitive learning theory, I examine the Understanding by Design framework, which emphasizes a backward design method to produce curricula and lesson plans. In this thesis, I provide an example of an archaeological lesson plan that uses a backward design method and complies with Arizona Social Studies Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The lesson, employed in conjunction with the American Southwest Virtual Museum, uses high-resolution photographs of artifacts found in the Southwest, and archaeological examples of the dry land farming methods of the Ancestral Puebloans to inform students the value archaeology has to use the past to teach us about present human behavior. By developing archaeological lesson plans within the landscape of ethics and educational standards, archaeologists produce engaging and efficient material for teachers to place into current curricula. Teachers and K-12 students make the ideal audience to promote archaeological literacy, because archaeologists can reach the public at a younger age, can convey important values about protecting the past, and can promote children to begin thinking like stewards of the archaeological record.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smiley, Francis E.
Commitee: Clark, Joelle, Downum, Christian E., Vasquez, Miguel
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 53/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Education
Keywords: Applied archaeology, Archaeology, Education, Public outreach
Publication Number: 1556506
ISBN: 978-1-303-91945-9
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