Pilot Project and Evaluation
“Investigating A Shotgun House” Pilot Project and Evaluation
During development of “Investigating a Shotgun House,” funds from the Nashville District, Army Corps of Engineers became available to pilot and evaluate a draft of the unit. These funds were part of the District’s efforts to mitigate the adverse impacts to archaeological sites as part of the drawn-down of Lake Cumberland in southcentral Kentucky.
These funds were used to hold a week-long teachers’ academy in the region in 2014, and to conduct a formal, in-class piloting and evaluation of a draft of “Investigating a Shotgun House” during the 2014-2015 School Year. The project explored how well the curriculum served as a model for inquiry-based teaching approaches and techniques in history and social studies education. Data were collected from students and teachers- for more information about the pilot project, read a 2017 presentation here.
2014 Week-Long Teachers’ Academy – Making History Local: An Inquiry-based Approach
Almost every participant indicated that they planned to incorporate/integrate/adapt some or all of the Investigating Shelter/“Investigating a Shotgun House” lessons into Native American, colonial history, or other units they taught, mentioning the hands-on aspects of the lessons, links to literature, and how much their students would enjoy learning through these lessons.
2014-2015 School Year Classroom Piloting
2. To examine how well the unit promoted deep conceptual understanding of how humanities subjects inform the development of a preservation ethic.
3. To evaluate “Investigating a Shotgun House” by field-testing its usability before it was finalized.
Below is a brief summary of the research findings—first with respect to the teachers and then, with respect to the students.
Pilot Project Teachers
After learning about the Davis Bottom neighborhood through “Investigating a Shotgun House,” students demonstrated enthusiasm for inquiry-based exploration of a “working poor” community. They also had a strong civic/and preservation response to the curriculum, as they understood the value of preserving aspects of ordinary people’s lives and recognizing histories that might otherwise be invisible.
The teachers were able to integrate elements of Investigating Shelter and “Investigating a Shotgun House” into their on-going social studies and language arts curricula. Using primary sources was a rich experience for their students. Time constraints forced them to make adjustments, and thus content coverage varied. Because inquiry is a challenging instructional approach, it was not surprising that these teachers did not use inquiry to its fullest potential. Neither the teachers nor their students, however, reported having serious problems with the unit’s inquiry aspects.
Pilot Project Students
Students were strongly in favor of preserving aspects of ordinary people’s lives and recognizing histories that might otherwise be invisible. They identified a moral/ethical component to preservation. However, they struggled to explain what alternatives might have been available to people on any of the various sides of this public issue, or how citizens might have intervened at any point over the years.