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How Eighth Graders in England and the United States View Historical Significance

Foster, Stuart and Yeager, Elizabeth and Greer, J (2002) How Eighth Graders in England and the United States View Historical Significance. Elementary School Journal, 103 (2). pp. 199-220. ISSN 0013-5984. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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Research has suggested that one way students understand history is to assign significance to historical events. In this study, we identified and analyzed what events 44 adolescents judged to be historically significant. We also sought to determine what historical events the students considered important compared to one another. Finally, we examined the criteria and reasoning students used to construe an event to be historically significant. Because the sample included adolescents in 2 classes-1 in England and 1 in the United States-the study offers cross-national comparisons. Data consisted of student-generated lists, as well as students' choices from a list of 47 events given to them, of the 10 most historically significant events of the twentieth century. From their selfgenerated lists, students were asked to select the event they considered most important and to explain why. In addition, 7 students from each class participated in a group interview. We found that the students showed an inclination to understand and learn from history and to find ways to conceptualize historical significance. Many were able to assign significance to major events, even though they had not studied them in depth in school. The study also sheds light on issues of national/cultural bias, personal relevance, and lessons to be learned from history as lenses through which to view historical significance, and it offers insights into the relation among national culture, school curriculum, and the perceptions of young people.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: a. History education. b. Classroom written tasks and semi-structured interviews conducted in USA and UK. c. Reveals the complex factors (e.g. cultural, educational, political) that determine students’ ideas of historical significance; raises issues for research and practice. d. Issues raised by the study are extensively referred to in both US and UK scholarship. e. Task sets and interviews conducted with 44 students in US and UK – transcriptions and data categorised and evaluated through an ongoing process of analytic induction. f. Peer-reviewed journal, international board. g. 60 per cent author. How Eighth Graders in England and the United States View Historical Significance, by Elizabeth Anne Yeager, Stuart J. Foster and Jennifer Greer © 2002 The University of Chicago Press.
Divisions: IOE Departments > Departments > Arts and Humanities
IOE Departments > Departments > Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
Depositing User: IOE Repository Editor (2)
Date Deposited: 06 May 2010 11:14
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 07:47
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