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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Historical content, historical methods and historical orientation are three aspects that may be taught in history education.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 The results show that the curricula of history education contains historical content, orientation and methods, yet history teachers focus almost exclusively on the historical content.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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3. Research Overview


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3.  Research Overview

In this chapter, I relate aspects which are discussed in the theoretical chapter to the results of previous research which are relevant to this thesis. In the theoretical chapter, I have already presented some research on history education, and thus these studies will not be addressed in this chapter.

History syllabi

As indicated in the theoretical chapter, issues related to the orienting and empirical approaches are of central concern in this thesis. The presence of these aspects has been identified and discussed in studies where history syllabi have been one aspect of interest. According to Carlos Kölbl and Lisa Konrad, aspects of orientation are central elements in the history syllabi of most German states. There are substantial elements in these syllabi that address a ‘historical consciousness’. In this context, historical consciousness should be understood as a process where an individual relates to shared aspects of the past, the present, and the future.70 A different take on the aspect of orientation is to exclude the future, and prescribe connections between the present and the past. This way to approach orientation is identified in Spanish and Flemish history syllabi.71

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