Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century: Activities for the College Classroom

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Hands-on activities are one of the best tools available to promote complex problem-solving in student-centered archaeology classrooms. Yet, original activities are difficult to devise, requiring a substantial time commitment and, frequently, multiple iterations before maturing into a productive learning tool. Ideally activities that originate within a limited circle of colleagues can be adapted and revised to fit diverse academic situations and instructors. This poster session is designed to share effective activities developed by the presenters over the years. Activity handouts, along with ancillary materials, are provided and each activity is explicitly connected to the Principles for Curricular Reform of the SAA Committee on Curriculum: Stewardship, Diverse Pasts, Social Relevance, Ethics and Values, Written and Oral Communication, Fundamental Archaeological Skills, and Real-World Problem Solving.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Archaeological Ceramics for Beginners: A Hands-On Activity for Introductory Classes (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Benjamin Carter.

    This activity is designed for students who have little or no experience with archaeology and, in many ways, is a classic; archaeological ceramics activities or labs are offered at many institutions. So, why offer it up? For two reasons: first, as a well-proven option that new instructors can use in their classrooms that is explicitly connected to the Principles for Curricular Reform and, second, as a starter for conversations with experienced instructors. The activity engages students with a...

  • Digging without Dirt: An Excavation Simulation (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shannon Fie.

    Efforts to simulate archaeological excavations typically include the seeding of objects in plastic tubs, sandboxes, and even cakes. Although these activities may spark excitement in students at the discovery of artifacts, they are often simple caricatures of the methods employed in actual archaeological investigations. Far worse, this treasure-hunting approach tends to reinforce the quest for "things", while also undermining key aspects of excavation that educators hope to instill, namely, the...

  • The Integration of Archaeology and its Principles into the Core Curriculum (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tammy Stone.

    Introduction to Archaeology is often included in the college/university wide core curriculum (social/behavioral science module), as well as being a required class for undergraduate majors. This inclusion allows us to introduce the SAA curricular goals to a larger community. At the University of Colorado Denver, multiple laboratory sections of 15 students each are attached to very large lecture sections. The laboratories provide hands on exercises tailored to the historic and prehistoric...

  • Simulating Engagement: Teaching Students about Stakeholders (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly Jenks.

    In my introduction to archaeology class, one of the most difficult topics to make my students understand and care about is the role of stakeholders in shaping archaeological research. This subject is simply not engaging in a lecture format. So, instead of lecturing about diverse perspectives, I ask students to participate in a simulated stakeholder meeting. The recent controversy over the development of fracking at Chaco Canyon provided the inspiration for my hypothetical scenario, in which...

  • Teaching Archaeology from a Sustainability Perspective (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dawn Mooney Digrius.

    In the twenty-first century, archaeology should be applied and should include scientists and engineers. Why? The reason is simple: because the discipline contributes to our understanding of contemporary issues such as global warming and environmental degradation as well as the past. As a paleoethnobotanist (and now historian of paleobotany), I saw a need for more collaborative work. Thus, in my classroom, I utilized a multi-disciplinary perspective, one that drew from anthropology, water...

  • Teaching Archaeology through Games: Bringing Interactive Lessons into the Classroom (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justin Williams.

    When teaching archaeology, it may sometimes be challenging to incorporate group work and interactive lesson plans. Due to the sensitive and time consuming nature of archaeological field and lab work, it is difficult to provide a true archaeological experience during allotted class periods. One way in which archaeological lesson plans can become more interactive is through the use of board games. Board games provide an interactive activity which causes students to work together, and the rules can...

  • Teaching Archaeology with Campus Trash (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Muckle.

    Student participation in campus trash audits connects to multiple principles of curricular reform articulated by the the SAA, including making them aware of basic methodological and cognitive skills used by archaeologists, real-world problem solving, and becoming effective communicators. Their physical participation helps convey field and laboratory skills. Having them draw behavioral inferences from trash provides experience in cognitive skills of interpretation. Results of trash audits can be...