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Instruction with Special Collections & University Archives

Resources on classroom instruction with SCUA

Course Description

Acquaints students with key principles and practices of original scholarly research. First emphasizes the key role in research of a clearly formulated question, one that is significant and workable and is grounded in a conceptual framework drawn from the existing literature. Then focuses on the techniques and rationale of a particular method of research, which will vary from semester to semester. Examples of possible foci include statistical analysis, interviews, community-based and participatory research, content analysis, or the interpretation of historical primary sources. In close consultation with the instructor, students design, carry out, and report on a research project employing that method to answer a question of their own design.

Proposed Class Outline


  • Students will be familiar with some of the primary source collections on our region
  • Students will understand how to analyze a primary source


  • Students can identify a source, its main content and perspective, and its defining characteristics.
  • Students will be able to craft a research question using the sources presented.

Exercise 1 (25 minutes):

  • Divide students into groups of 2 or 3.
  • Each group receives a diary to review and analyze. (10 minutes)
  • Groups share what they gathered from the source. (15 minutes)

Exercise 2 (50 minutes):

  • In pairs, students visit “stations” of materials for 5-7 minutes at each. Ask them to review the materials and think about a research question that is inspired from their investigation.
  • In last 15 minutes of class, students share their findings

Sample Item List

Colgate University Libraries | 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346 | 315-228-7300