“Canadian Nurses in WWI.” This poster, submitted by Tatiana Kyliuk as a research creation project for History 201: Canada From Confederation to World War II (Winter 2019) at the University of Regina, well illustrates the ways that students can communicate historical research through visual media. In addition to submitting this poster, Kyliuk also provided a 10 minute presentation and annotated bibliography. Photo used with permission of Tatiana Kyliuk.
This post is part two of Donica Belisle’s three-part series, “Taking the ‘discipline’ out of History: moving beyond the limits of scholarly writing through a research creation assignment.” Part one was published last week.
In Winter 2019 I devised an assignment in a second-year Canadian survey course (Canada From Confederation to World War II) that enabled students to choose their own research outputs. That is, I gave them the option of either writing an essay or creating something more experimental.
I chose this course deliberately for this exercise. This junior level course has a cap of 50 enrollments, and it usually fills. Many students who take this course are from the Faculties of Education, Engineering, and Business. Many, too, are undeclared majors from within the Faculty of Arts. This course thus offered a reasonable testing ground to see if students without intensive disciplinary training might be interested in alternative communication formats.
By running what I called a research creation assignment in this course, my intent was to see if students who were relatively new to the historical ‘discipline,’ and who had a variety of academic interests and career objectives, would approach the issue of dissemination differently from the essay format, if they had the choice. I also ran the experiment to see which research outputs would prove most popular. For example, would they all want to do podcasts? Would they perhaps be interested in more niche options such as walking tours or dramatical re-enactments?
As it turned out, more than half of the course’s 48 students chose the research creation option. Before explaining what they chose to do, it should be noted here that I did give them ample guidance in terms of what they could do. The specific instructions are available here; I also spent much time in class explaining how they might approach this assignment. That being said, I also now realize that I should have provided even more guidance.
Following the grading of these assignments, I uploaded (with permission) many of them to my website. They are housed permanently there.
What, then, were the outcomes of this research creation assignment? Specific observations are below. Continue reading