Why Objects Matter in Higher Education

Joanna Cobley

Abstract

Integrating artifacts into the curriculum can increase students’ confidence when working with historical fragments. This article provides insight into what happened when students engaged with authentic historical artifacts for the purposes of learning for the first time. It draws from a range of qualitative data collected during a two-year period while teaching an undergraduate New Zealand history course. Students described learning how to read such objects and gaining skills in how to synthesize information highlighting both the short- and long-term pedagogical benefits stemming from object-based learning (OBL). While OBL needs specialist collections staff to work alongside the teacher, the article closes with encouraging comments about how OBL caters for different age groups, interests, and learning contexts.

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