Class Session Configuration

Speed Dating

One of our most frequently-used session formats is what we call "speed dating." In this session, we set out approximately the same number of objects as participants. Students individually spend a few minutes with each object, rotating among the materials until each student has seen every object. Students take notes and photos (where permitted) to document their observations during their allotted time with each object. 
At the end of the session, students will have a few minutes to discuss the objects they saw as a group.

This format is a good option for maximizing the number of objects students can explore and interact with during a session. It gives a sense of the breadth of available materials on a given topic. For classes requiring students to complete an assignment based on the materials used in the session, speed dating gives students a range of options for their assignment. This is a fast-paced and fun session format, and it can encourage a high level of focus from students because only have a few minutes to examine each object. 


We recommend this format for classes and assignments with the goal of maximizing exposure to materials in a short time. It works well to form initial impressions about materials, and it gives students an opportunity to determine what items they may want to examine more as researchers in the Rose Library Reading Room. It is not well-suited to assignments or learning objectives that expect a thorough investigation of materials.

While this format is best in a 75-minute (or longer) class session, it can be used in a 50-minute session with the understanding that students may not be able to examine every object during the allotted time. Particularly for 50-minute sessions, instructors should diligently prepare students in advance and encourage them to arrive at the Rose Library promptly so that the entire class session can be devoted to examining materials.

Group Work

In this session format, students work together in small groups (2-4) to examine materials. Typically, students have a worksheet or set of questions to consider as their group explores objects. At the end of the session, each group reports to the class about what they discovered or learned.


This format is well-suited to maximizing the benefits of collaborative learning as students work together to develop ideas about the materials they examine. It is particularly valuable for allowing students to delve into materials with the help of their classmates. Group work sessions are easily adjustable for any class duration.

There are several common variations of this session format. First, the number of objects each group has to examine can be one object or several. For example, each group might have a book, a single document, several books, a book and selected documents, a folder of documents, or a box of documents. The quantity of objects depends on how deeply the instructor wants each group to dive into the materials.

Second, in these sessions groups can rotate among materials similar to the individual rotations in speed-dating session. In this instance, the number of materials displayed is equal to the number of groups, and students spend a set amount of time at each station.

Individual Research

Individual research class sessions mimic research in the Reading Room. Students spend their class time examining materials on their own with aid from their instructor and Rose Library staff as needed.

This format is particularly well-suited for advanced students working on specific projects. It works best when materials are selected based on individual students’ interests and when students have a very clear goal in mind.

Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunt sessions are loosely curated session in which students are given boxes, books, and other items from a given collection or on a given topic. Students spend the session working in groups or individually to explore the materials and draw their own conclusions. Students will discuss their findings with the class at the end of the session.

The goal of this type of session is to give students an opportunity to look through materials and decide for themselves what items are particularly interesting or offer special insight into the topic at hand. In that way, this session introduces students to archival research as a mode of discovery.

Because materials for treasure-hunt sessions are less targetted by the instructor and staff, this session format is most suitable for in-class work and lower stakes assignments. It is suitable for any class duration.