Dr. Kay Carroll

Connecting archaeology and history with the learner

The National Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) identifies global integration and migration, accelerated technology and complex social and environmental challenges as a catalyst for learners to engage with problem-solving, and become socially, technologically and culturally literate. Within this context of globalization and exponential technological changes representations of the past must capture learners’ imaginations and be relevant and authentic. Museums, classrooms and educational institutions are increasingly challenged within this landscape to connect and engage with learners and audiences.

This paper explores how inquiry learning in historic contexts using principles associated with archaeological investigation, observation and analysis results in high levels of student and audience learning and questioning. Inquiry learning has the potential to transform traditional educational experiences. Defined by its experiential and explorative approaches inquiry learning is about engaging in real life, tangible, problem-solving. Inquiry learning is the theoretical child of John Dewey (1910; 1938). This theoretical child learns from the world, not just about the world. The learning is constructed through a process of observation, deductions, evidence gathering, logical analysis and resolution. It is empirical, critical and demanding of rigour. Students learn to see, hear and touch the world and understand that learning is lifelong, meaningful and rich. These experiences connect the learner to the past and enable them to become analytical, socially, culturally and technologically literate.

Australian Catholic University, (NSW)


Kay is a Senior Lecturer with the Faculty of Education for the Australian Catholic University. Her research interests are in history curriculum and pedagogy. Her publications are in the areas of curriculum innovation, leadership and teacher professionalism. As a Lecturer in Teacher Education for the School of Education, Kay teaches History and HSIE pedagogy, literacy and curricula. She is interested in the development of the Australian Curriculum and historical inquiry learning. Kay’s previous experience as a History secondary teacher and HSIE Coordinator has given her a special awareness of the school context and curriculum negotiation within the classroom.