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Teaching with archaeology : grade 6 science and grade 9 social studies



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Pre-collegiate teachers in Saskatchewan recognize the value of integrating archaeological content into natural and social science curricula. However, there is currently a lack of curriculum-relevant resources available to teachers who are interested in teaching with archaeology. In addition to meeting Saskatchewan Core Curriculum standards and objectives, the holistic, multi-disciplinary, activities-based approach inherent in archaeology education provides students with opportunities to inquire, investigate, connect, cooperate and collaborate as they develop higher-level understanding and cognition independently and as members of a community of learners (Short and Burke 1991). Thus, the integration of archaeology into existing curricula complements contemporary cognitive development and social constructivist theories of knowledge of scholars Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Furthermore, learning through archaeology increases students’ awareness and appreciation of other cultures, and promotes understanding of the need to protect and conserve cultural resources. There were two aims in the research: 1) To answer the question: What do teachers require to integrate archaeology concepts, themes and activities into Grade 6 Science and Grade 9 Social Studies curricula; and, 2) To assess the validity of the two assumptions that were taken after the review of the literature: i) If successful archaeology education programs in North America employed the use of hands-on, active learning, then the inclusion of hands-on, active learning in the archaeology education resources developed for the research will also prove effective ; and ii) If successful archaeology education programs in North America incorporated constructivist theories of learning, including the cognitive development theory of Jean Piaget and the sociocultural theory of Lev Vygotsky in their designs, then reference to constructivist theories of learning, including Piaget’s cognitive development theory and Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, will result in the development of appropriate archaeology education materials.The research occurred between January 2003 and June 2005, and involved the collaboration of nine teachers, a First Nations Elder, 689 Grade 6 and Grade 9 students, and 13 archaeologists. The research design followed a qualitative, action research approach, with the collection of data occurring through semi-structured interviews using McCracken’s (1988) long interview method, as well as questionnaires, a survey, and participant observation. An open-coding approach was used to code data collected during the research.In addition to providing answers to the research question and assessments of the validity of the two assumptions taken in the research, the results indicate that the benefits of integrating archaeological content into pre-collegiate curricula transcend professional jurisdictions. Outcomes include the development of Grade 6 Science and Grade 9 Social Studies archaeology units that can serve as templates and resources for teachers, curriculum developers, and archaeologists. Also, participants learned about: Saskatchewan’s human and environmental histories; how archaeology can be used to reveal these histories; and why it is necessary to protect and conserve cultural resources—all goals of avocational and professional archaeological associations across North America.



archaeology education, public archaeology, teaching with archaeology, curriculum development, grade 6 science, grade 9 social studies



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Anthropology and Archaeology


Anthropology and Archaeology



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