Experiential Learning in Graduate Archival Education at the University of Botswana
Most curriculum components of archival graduate programmes consist of contextual knowledge, archival knowledge, complementary knowledge, practicum, and scholarly research. The practicum, now commonly known as experiential learning in the global hub, is now widely accepted in library and information studies (LIS) education as necessary and important. It is through experiential learning that, over and above the theoretical aspects of a profession, students are provided with the opportunity to learn by doing in a workplace environment. The University of Botswana’s Master’s in Archives and Records Management (MARM) programme has a six weeks experiential learning programme whose purpose is to expose prospective archivists and/or records managers to the real archival world in terms of practice as informed by archival theory. The main objective of the study was to determine the extent to which the University of Botswana’s experiential learning component exposes students to real-life archival work to put into practice theoretical aspects learnt in the classroom as intended by the university guidelines. This study adopted a qualitative research design and collected data through interviews from participants selected through purposive and snowball sampling strategies. Documentary review supplemented the interviews. The data collected were analysed thematically in line with research objectives. The study determined that experiential learning does indeed expose students to the real world of work. It thus helps to bridge the gap between archival theory and practice for students without archives and records management work experience. For those with prior archival experience, experiential learning does not add value. This study recommends that students with prior archives and records management experience should rather, as an alternative to experiential learning, undertake supervised research, and write a research essay in a chosen thematic area in archives and records management.