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Case Study: Applying IBL within ANTH 110 "Global Archaeology"

How does this assessment work?


This assessment is designed to run for the entire length of the semester and it is worth 20% of the student's grade. It is housed within Howard Community College’s LMS ‘Canvas’. The task is to undertake and interpret the excavations of a hypothetical site, and to satisfy the research requirements of a hypothetical research body: the Council for Archaeological Research (within the scenario, this is actually the Instructor).


The assessment is divided in to nine of stages. Each stage asks the student to respond to a series of specific questions and provides a framework of investigation via which they undertake their own research and arrive at a solution. In order to progress from one stage to the next, the student must submit their solutions to the Council for Archaeological Research (in person or via email or LMS) and once the Council is satisfied with the student’s solutions and/or reasoning, the student is allowed to progress from one stage to the next. 


If the responses the student sends to the Council for Archaeological Research are deemed unsatisfactory, they are asked to clarify certain points or are redirected in their research with some helpful tips or pointers. Once the Council has been satisfied, the next stage is unlocked for the student. If the student gets stuck, they are encouraged to e-mail the Council directly with specific questions and/or meet with the Council during office hours.


The benefit of this form of assessment is that it rewards students who work hard to apply course content, and it allows students multiple attempts at rectifying their responses, thus providing a student with the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.  As long as the student completes every stage of the task by the stated deadline, they will receive an A grade for the assessment. It does not matter if, for some of the stages, a student’s initial conclusions cause the research council to redirect them to the data, or to ask them to think again about their solutions. As long as the student completes the assessment, they will have achieved all learning outcomes, and will thus have earned their A.  Indeed, it is often only by challenging a solution or assumption, that a deeper level of understanding can be reached.  If they do not complete the task, a B, C, D or F grade will be awarded, depending on how far though the task they were able to progress.


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