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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Historical content, historical methods and historical orientation are three aspects that may be taught in history education.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 The results show that the curricula of history education contains historical content, orientation and methods, yet history teachers focus almost exclusively on the historical content.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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7. Student strategies: historical content, methods and temporal orientation


129 7. Student Strategies: Historical Content, Methods and Temporal Orientation In this chapter, the focus is on the fourth research question: What strategies do the students use when they engage with characteristics from the empirical and orienting approaches to history education? This research question was examined by analysing 148 student responses on a source-based assignment. The chapter begins with the operationalization of the curriculum emphases of historical methods and orientation. This is accomplished through using the defi- nitions of methodical strategies used in the historical discipline; first, in relation to the methodical emphasis, and second, in relation to the emphasis of orienta- tion. These concretizations are then used to define the analytical framework used in analysing the students’ responses. Operationalization of the emphases of historical methods and orientation In addressing the fourth research question, students were given the opportunity to engage primarily with aspects of historical content, historical methods and temporal orientation by completing an assignment where they were presented with two tasks. The first task was related to historical interpretations and the second to temporal orientation. At their disposal was a historical source material which they were encouraged to use in two ways: first, to answer the historical question, and second in an act of orientation where their understanding of the past and the present was used to reflect upon the future. As mentioned in the research overview and in the discussion on the theo- retical framework (see chapter 2 and 3), history educators have been discuss- ing combinations...

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