Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources at Illinois Wesleyan University

Publication Date



This report contains a summary of IWU’s participation in Ithaka S&R’s Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources study.[1] That work is “an exploratory examination of the pedagogical practices of humanities and social sciences instructors teaching with primary sources at the undergraduate level. The goal of the study is to understand instructors’ undergraduate teaching processes toward developing resources and services to support them in their work.”[2] Five Illinois Wesleyan University faculty teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences were interviewed for this project. Based on the analysis of the interview transcripts, the findings are grouped as follows: the value and purposes of teaching with primary sources, discovery methods, challenges encountered, and culminating products for course assignments. The author includes recommendations for the ways in which library faculty may support their departmental colleagues’ work at IWU. [1] The project acknowledges that disciplinary definitions of primary sources differ. For the purposes of this study, we sought out “the pedagogical use of texts, films, or artworks as witnesses to a historical period or cultural milieu, including manuscripts and editions being studied as cultural artefacts….” See Appendix A for a complete copy of the project definition that was made available to each interview subject. [2] Ithaka S&R, “Implementation Guide: Writing the Protocol” Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources, 2019 (p. 12).


Library and Information Science