Developing archaeological pedagogies in higher education: addressing changes in the Community of Practice of archaeology

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This paper considers how the pedagogy of archaeological teaching in higher education should respond to the changing employment profile of archaeology and the heritage sector. It uses Wenger’s model of Communities of Practice (CoP) to explore changes in the archaeological CoP and to generate ideas about new archaeological pedagogies. CoP is a model of learning that is particularly useful for vocational subjects where learning focuses on creating new members through legitimizing peripheral participation. This model is based on social learning and the transformation of identity, and is especially relevant to understanding archaeological teaching with its distinctive pedagogic activities such as fieldwork that bridge the professional/novice divide. This paper proposes that archaeology teaching prepares students for a variety of different and dynamic engagements within and outside the CoP in response to fewer full-time permanent career opportunities, for example temporary employment, re-training, and campaigning, with the aim of ensuring the CoP’s sustainability. This involves developing a range of sophisticated pedagogic solutions that move beyond transferable skills, which develop the strengths of current archaeological pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalThe Historic Environment: Policy & Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice on 25/11/2015, available online:


  • archaeology
  • communities of practice
  • curriculum development
  • employability
  • heritage
  • pedagogy
  • situated learning


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