Teaching towards historical expertise. Developing students’ ability to reason causally in history
Amsterdam : University of Amsterdam
ICO Dissertation Series ; 368
Number of pages
University of Amsterdam, 14 november 2017
Promotores : Boxtel, C.A.M. van, Drie, J.P. van
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Radboud Docenten Academie (RDA)
SubjectICO Dissertation Series; Cultivating Creativity in Education
Explaining historical events is an important goal in history education, but not much is known about pedagogical approaches to support this reasoning. In this dissertation, we therefore developed and investigated a learning-environment intended to foster students’ ability for causal historical reasoning. Based on the model of domain learning and the framework of historical reasoning, we defined causal historical reasoning as a construct consisting of (knowledge of) second-order concepts, causal strategies and epistemological beliefs.In the first study, we designed a lesson-unit on the First World War and conducted a quasi-experimental study with 11th-grade preuniversity students. In a second study, we replicated the experiment in a randomized controlled design. We concluded that explicit teaching constituted an indispensable principle in developing causal historical reasoning. Students in the experimental (explicit) condition showed greater improvement on the knowledge of causal strategies and second-order concepts. Furthermore, these students reported learning-gains related to epistemological aspects of causal explanations. At post-test in the experimental condition, a strong correlation was found between epistemological beliefs and students’ interest. Applying knowledge of causal historical reasoning in a document-based writing-task remained difficult for students. A qualitative study showed that students were able to integrate aspects of causal historical reasoning in their texts, but that they struggled with the argumentative nature of the task. Throughout the studies, epistemological beliefs surfaced as an important dimension of students’ historical reasoning, but assessing these beliefs was complex. Therefore, in the final study, we developed a new questionnaire aimed at evaluating naïve and nuanced epistemological beliefs.
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