Archaeotype: Discovering the Past Through Simulated Archaeology .

General Project Description:
Archaeotype is a networked, archaeological simulation software package being used to teach sixth-graders at The Dalton School, an independent school in New York City. Students work in small groups to excavate a section of a simulated archeological site. Students send the results of their 'dig' to a simulated lab where they measure, weigh, and begin their research. Students must also compile a database on the basis of which they are called upon to make inferences about the society and culture of the site. 1

Multiple perspectives X
Student-directed goals X
Teachers as coaches X
Metacognition X
Learner control X
Authentic activities & contexts X
Knowledge construction X
Knowledge collaboration X
Previous knowledge constructions X
Problem solvingX
Consideration of errorsX
Exploration X
Apprenticeship learningX
Conceptual interrelatedness X
Alternative viewpointsX
Scaffolding X
Authentic assessment X
Primary sources of dataX

The following list indicates the way in which the characteristics were accommodated or supported:

  1. Multiple perspectives:
    "By going through the process a number of times bringing each contextual background to bear on a number of different artifacts, the students learn and understand the many ways that the general principles behind what they are doing become manifest. 2.

  2. Student-directed goals:
    Students are motivated by their individual interests. An important goal of the program is to promote independent learning.

  3. Teachers as coaches:
    Teachers' role is to coach students and to support them in their efforts2.

  4. Metacognition:
    Not observed

  5. Learner control:
    Inquiries are entirely student directed and driven. 1

  6. Authentic activities & contexts:
    Students are placed in the context of an archeological dig and work as researchers to uncover evidence in order to make inferences about the society and culture of the site.

  7. Knowledge construction:
    Students are required to construct knowledge about the past through their research. There is little or no 'instruction' or knowledge transmission

  8. Knowledge collaboration:
    Archeotype is a collaborative, team-oriented enterprise.1

  9. Previous knowledge constructions:
    Students bring to their research their own historical interests, beliefs and knowledge which they can then reconstruct and compare in the context of their research.

  10. Problem Solving:
    Archeotype provides a rich problem-solving environment in which students observe, interpret, predict, hypothesize and make inferences.

  11. Consideration of errors:
    Students explore independently such that errors become part of the problem-solving process and provide students with feedback on their progress.

  12. Exploration:
    Archeotype provides a rich exploratory environment containing a wide variety of resources, tasks and activities in which students can independently pursue their personal interests and goals.

  13. Apprenticeship learning:
    Students participate in the tasks of an archeologist. As well, they experience first-hand the complexities of historical research.

  14. Conceptual interrelatedness:
    The challenges built into the project are intentionally multidisciplinary and thus require the use of math, science, history and philology. Students need to involve different disciplines in order to solve the problems.1

  15. Alternative viewpoints:
    Students are encouraged to consider various interpretations of their finds. These include interpretations conducted by other students as well as related interpretations in the historical literature.

  16. Scaffolding:
    Teachers can control the level of complexity of the project through the selection of artifacts in the dig, the complexity of research resources both within and without the program environment.1

  17. Authentic assessment:
    Not observed

  18. Primary sources of data:
    Students have access to the resources within the library of the program as well as to outside resources such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a list of accessible experts whom they can consult when they wish to discuss problems they are encountering in their research. 1


Available at:

(2) Black, J. & McClintock, R. (1995). An Interpretation Construction Approach to Constructivist Design
Available at:

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This site was created by Elizabeth Murphy, Summer, 1997.