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Historical enquiry in primary school: Teaching interpretation of archaeological artefacts from an intercultural perspective
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0142-9311
2019 (English)In: History Education Research Journal, ISSN 2631-9713, Vol. 16, no 2, p. 248-273Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article aims to explore how learning historical interpretation of Viking age archaeological artefacts from an intercultural perspective could be facilitated through historical enquiry in primary school. Three design principles were formulated for the teaching: 1) enquiry based upon an authentic intercultural question, 2) enquiry with a focus on source interpretation, and 3) enquiry using material culture in the form of archaeological artefacts. Two questions were addressed: first, how did the teaching design and practice facilitate the intended learning, and second, what obstacles to learning were encountered as a result of the design? Research data was analysed qualitatively using content-focused conversation analysis and variation theory. The findings in relation to the first question indicated that the design principles helped teachers facilitate learning through historical enquiry from an intercultural perspective, and that archaeological artefacts can inspire investigations into history by activating pupils’ historical consciousness. The answer to the second question indicated that pupils had difficulties responding to historical enquiries with synthesised inferences based on historical evidence. A revision of the final phase of the enquiry suggests that focus is on discussing reasonable explanations in relation to artefacts, rather than synthesising historical inferences based on evidence. This study points to possibilities of teaching historical interpretation and intercultural perspectives through historical enquiry in primary school and suggests that archaeological artefacts can be used to initiate historical learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 16, no 2, p. 248-273
Keywords [en]
archaeological artefacts, historical enquiry, historical interpretation, intercultural learning, Swedish primary school, Viking age
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Arts, Humanities and Social Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169579DOI: 10.18546/HERJ.16.2.07OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-169579DiVA, id: diva2:1322681
Projects
In collaboration with the project ‘A common space’, supported by The Swedish National Heritage Board (RAÄ), grant number 3.2.2-5180-2016
Funder
Swedish National Heritage Board, 3.2.2-5180-2016Available from: 2019-06-11 Created: 2019-06-11 Last updated: 2019-09-04
In thesis
1. Lära historia genom källor: Undervisning och lärande av historisk källtolkning i grundskolan och gymnasieskolan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lära historia genom källor: Undervisning och lärande av historisk källtolkning i grundskolan och gymnasieskolan
2019 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Learning history through historical source materials : Teaching and learning historical source interpretation in primary and secondary school
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis is concerned with how students learn historical source interpretation and the design of facilitating teaching practices. Source interpretation is at the core of historians’ professional practice and, while being a key aspect of historical learning, it is sometimes misunderstood or misrepresented in history teaching. To better understand these issues two educational design research field studies were conducted in middle and upper secondary schools to explore how students learn historical source interpretation. The historical content in upper secondary school concerned the process of democratisation in Sweden, while the middle school content was the Viking Age. Source materials in upper secondary school included various text sources, while archaeological artefacts were used in middle school.

The research object was historical source interpretation, or the ability to understand the meaning of sources in relation to the historical questions and contexts formulated and dealt with in history teaching. Source interpretation is one element of the ability to reason historically. It is a theoretical construct that has a heuristic function along with the development of historical consciousness. Four research questions are addressed: i) What do middle and upper secondary school students know when they have developed the ability to reason historically when engaged in source interpretation, ii) What are critical aspects of learning to reason historically when engaged in source interpretation, iii) What are similarities and differences between middle and upper secondary school students' learning of historical reasoning in source interpretation, and iv) How can history teaching facilitate the learning of historical reasoning through source interpretation?

An interventionist and theory-informed research methodology, in the form of learning study, was used to develop teaching practices while generating empirical data. A compilation of four peer-reviewed articles simultaneously contribute knowledge to the practice of history teaching and to the theory of history didactics. Two articles address the first two questions of the qualitative meaning of learning source interpretation using phenomenography and variation theory to analyse students' perceptions and to identify the critical aspects of discernment that students must learn. From the perspective of variation theory, it is argued that learning source interpretation can be regarded as obtaining differentiated ways of seeing, as previous experiences are supplemented with more complex perceptions.

The third question is addressed by comparing students’ developing of source interpretation skills in middle and upper secondary school. One finding of the comparison is that younger students’ learning reflects an increasing understanding of what history is, whereas older students learn to use the disciplinary tools and methods of history. Two articles address the final question regarding the role of teaching by combining content-based conversation analysis with variation theory to analyse students' learning processes when working with source interpretation tasks. It is argued that students’ preunderstandings can be regarded and used as resources in teaching and learning. Finally, seven design principles are suggested to guide teachers in organising their teaching practice. These include motivating historical research through source work and activating historical consciousness through sources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för de humanistiska och samhällsvetenskapliga ämnenas didaktik, Stockholms universitet, 2019. p. 188
Keywords
history teaching, historical enquiry, primary source analysis, source criticism, source interpretation, interpretation of historical sources, historical consciousness, intercultural historical learning, learning study, phenomenography
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Arts, Humanities and Social Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-172259 (URN)978-91-7797-767-4 (ISBN)978-91-7797-768-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-10-11, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-09-18 Created: 2019-08-28 Last updated: 2019-09-10Bibliographically approved

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