College Archivist Promotes Engaged Learning at Conference

May 22, 2017

by Peter Edgar '20
Edited for content and length

Last week, Florida Southern College Archivist Gerrianne Schaad presented at the Society of Florida Archivists in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Society of Florida Archivists is a volunteer organization; their conference is held yearly at locations around the state and features studies, discussion, and discoveries by archivists at colleges, local archives and libraries, and other organizations.

Ms. Schaad has earned her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. Schaad returned to Florida after 25 years, having worked for the Smithsonian Institution and at Harvard in both academic settings as well as museum settings.

At the conference, Schaad presented in a session entitled “Collaborative and Engaging Instruction in Special Collections & Archives” and focused on the methods that archivists use when teaching college students to use archival materials. She introduced her engaged learning techniques that she used with her work-study students on campus at Florida Southern, and her successes doing so.

Schaad took what she learned from a Professional Development Session, where Dr. Autumn Grubb was teaching engaged learning techniques like community building and team concepts. Schaad found that by the end of the semester, the techniques helped students begin to forge relationships outside of the department and work together to tackle their projects. This lead them to be more driven in their project, want to learn more, and produce more.

“It allows students to teach each other faster, and it’s faster to make those connections,” Schaad espoused the importance of building that community feel as early in the semester as possible, “We’re going to continue working on this project, and if anyone new comes on board, the students are going to be able to teach that new person more than if they didn’t have that camaraderie.”

Schaad is looking forward to using the new resources at the Polk Museum of Art to help students learn and cross-train art students with archival techniques, and the students working at the archives learning to work in the museum setting.

She also will be presenting engaged learning at another conference in upcoming weeks, at the Society of Southwest Archivists. She’s heard librarians talk about engaged learning, but she feels that “archivists are a little late to the game.” She hopes to change that by “bringing these techniques to our portfolio.”