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History Education as Content, Methods or Orientation?

A Study of Curriculum Prescriptions, Teacher-made Tasks and Student Strategies

David Rosenlund

Historical content, historical methods and historical orientation are three aspects that may be taught in history education. This study examines the emphases which are included in formal curricula texts and those which are included in teacher-made tasks. The results show that the curricula of history education contains historical content, orientation and methods, yet history teachers focus almost exclusively on the historical content. In a second step, this study examines the strategies with which students may process and combine elements from the three emphases of content, orientation and methods. The results provide insight into what strategies the students use and how they process the relationship between historical knowledge, historical methods and historical orientation.

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It is sometimes said that completing a thesis is lonesome work. Although there have been times when I worked in solitude, this thesis could not have been accomplished without the assistance of others. First, I want to thank the National Graduate School of History for financing this thesis. I also want to direct a warm ‘thank you’ to all those who have had the patience to read and comment on my conference papers. The comments and suggestions I have received at these occasions have been of great importance. I also want to thank my fellow PhD candidates and the senior researchers at the research unit, History and History Didactics, Malmo University. The constructive environment and the lively seminars have meant a great deal in the process of completing this thesis. Also, because English is not my first language, the assistance I received from Sofia Rosenlund has been of great help.

I would like to extend my especially heartfelt gratitude to my two supervisors, Per Eliasson and Anders Jönsson. The many challenging discussions you initiated during this process have been invaluable. So has your belief (as it seemed to me) that the decisions made in the course of this work were moving the thesis in the right direction.

Finally, I wish to thank my family, Ylva, Tove and Björn: ’Cause you shine the dark away …’

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