Hands-on Learning in Special Collections: A Pilot Assessment Project

This study examined how hands-on work with original primary materials affects students’ information literacy and critical thinking skills. The project team developed rubrics to evaluate document analyses from before and after student time in special collections. Most scores did not vary significantly between the pre- and posttests, although students’ ability to analyze the materiality of documents did improve. They also examined papers from classes that had and had not used special collections against the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ information literacy rubric and found no significant differences. The authors hope this project will serve as a pilot for future assessment of student learning in special collections.

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