Meaning, Thinking and Learning in History Conference in Jyväskylä, Finland

Meaning, Thinking and Learning in History seeks to strengthen research on history pedagogy by furthering cooperation between history education practice and research. History as both a discipline and school subject is in motion, receiving increasing demands from the surrounding society. Focusing on textbook-driven narratives is usually not enough to meet the demands of the curricula or of students. The primary goal of this conference is to encourage collaboration and foster dialogue between professional historians, education scholars, graduate students, and classroom teachers in order to find ways of balancing the scholarship on the pedagogy of history with increasing demands and classroom realities.

Over the course of this two-day conference, scholars, teachers and practitioners will share their research findings, offering examples of cutting-edge approaches and engaging in dynamic discussions that will help nurture intercultural dialogue and bridge scholarly and practical questions. Keynote lectures will be given by Bob Bain (University of Michigan) and Henrik Meinander (University of Helsinki).

The conference invites proposals for presentations, panels and workshops by 15 January, 2017. To learn more visit the teho2017en.wordpress.com and in twitter #teho2017.

The conference is bilingual, in English and Finnish. The conference will be designed so that there is an English-language programme throughout. Meinander’s keynote will be in Finnish.

The conference is arranged by the group Teaching History Outside the Box of the University of Jyväskylä: Anna Veijola (Jyväskylä Normal School), Matti Rautiainen (Department of Teacher Education) and Simo Mikkonen (Department of History and Ethnology). The conference is part of a project funded by the Academy of Finland and coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Finland.

Call for Papers: Meaning, Thinking and Learning in History

Meaning, Thinking and Learning in History Conference welcomes teachers, scholars, and everyone interested in pedagogy of history to submit proposals dealing with history education practice and research, ranging from elementary level to the university.

The conference seeks to strengthen research on history pedagogy by furthering cooperation between history education practice and research. The primary goal of this two-day conference is to encourage collaboration and foster dialogue between professional historians, education scholars, graduate students, and classroom teachers in order to find ways of balancing the scholarship on the pedagogy of history with increasing demands and classroom realities.

Scholars and practitioners interested in the pedagogy of history in both schools and universities are invited to submit proposals that address the learning, teaching and researching of history in schools, universities, and, more generally, society. Submissions from teachers who specialise in history or social science education are encouraged, as well as from graduate students and scholars.

The conference invites proposals for presentations, panels and workshops on a variety of relevant topics, including (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • How do we teach historical thinking and skills-based history to students?
  • How can educators support the teaching and learning of skills-based history and historical thinking?
  • What kinds of skills are needed in learning history and developing historical thinking?
  • How can new platforms (social media, digital archives, etc.) support the development of historical thinking?
  • How can we assess students’ historical thinking and its development?
  • What innovative pedagogical methods exist for teaching history?

Proposal materials must be submitted by 15 January, 2017. Details on submitting proposals can be found from the conference pages. Please send all materials to teho2017@jyu.fi. The accepted proposals will be notified by 30 January, 2017. Any materials intended for pre-circulation must be received by 15 May, 2017. The conference has a participation fee of 70€. Please contact teho2017@jyu.fi for any questions.

To learn more: teho2017en.wordpress.com and in twitter #teho2017.

The conference is bilingual, in English and Finnish. The conference will be designed so that there is an English-language programme throughout.

Meaning, Thinking and Learning in History Conference in Jyväskylä, Finland

Understanding Historical Time

EuroClio Articles

On the occasion of the presentation of 20 new NWO PhD scholarships, on 12 September 2016, I was interviewed by the Secretary of State for Education, Sander Dekker. The interview was about my research: Improving the understanding of historical time for pupils between 6-12 years old.

Understanding of historical time is essential to the learning of history. Theories about children’s understanding of historical time are largely based on older research, which concludes that a full understanding of time is achieved at about the age of 11 and that the learning of clock- and calendar time are conditional for the learning of history. More recent English and American research indicates that young children do have an understanding of historical time. Still this research has made little impact on the teaching of historical time. In the Netherlands the history curriculum starts in the 5th or 6th grade at the age of about 9, although it would be more logical to start earlier with the advantage that children can work longer and deeper on their understanding of historical time, as is the case in England. Therefore, we compared the Dutch and the English curricula.

Data from national reports, in both the Netherlands and England, however, indicate that the teaching and learning of historical time are not always well-implemented in the curricula. This was confirmed by our research. Although chronology features in both the English National Curriculum and the Dutch Core Objectives, we found that the implemented curricula do not fully cover the objectives: for example in our sample, only a quarter of the English teachers pay attention to the chronological order of historical periods consistently and the majority of teachers in both countries does not use timelines.

In order to optimize our primary history curricula with regard to chronology, we developed a model (http://www.historischtijdsbesef.nl/en/niveaus-van-historisch-tijdsbesef/), based on descriptions in the curricula and on empirical studies of chronology, with three stages: emergentinitial and continued understanding of historical time. In this model we defined pupils’ skills and knowledge for each stage based on five objectives:

  • apply the vocabulary of time
  • sequence events, people and historical eras in chronological order
  • use the timeline to place events and people in time
  • identify characteristic features of different historical periods and compare and contrast historical periods

Because we wanted to gain insight into how pupils in primary schools perform on these three stages, we constructed an instrument that was based on our model. The instrument consisted of two paper and pencil tests for younger and older pupils with, for each stage, multiple-choice items that corresponded with the five objectives in the model. We conducted the tests in seven Dutch primary schools totalling 1457 pupils. The results showed that in all three stages pupils in higher grades significantly outperformed pupils in lower grades. Furthermore, in all grades there was room for improvement.

In a follow-up study sixteen teachers of grade 4 (ages 7-8) and 7 (ages 10-12) were trained to teach with Timewise, a newly developed teaching method, in which they consistently paid attention to the objectives of historical time.  In every lesson timelines were used, linked to stories, pictures and videos.  The intervention with Timewise resulted in significantly improved performances of pupils in the post-test compared to the pre-test and compared to a control condition.
The research is now almost complete and I am working on the final chapters. In 2017, I hope to defend my dissertation. I enjoyed doing this interview, and Sander Dekker was very interested.

More information on the research for my PhD can be found at http://www.historischtijdsbesef.nl/en.

New Publication on Directions in History Education Research

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“Joined-Up History: New Directions in History Education Research” explores the question of historical thinking and how it has developed in the last 30 years. Edited by Arthur Chapman of University College London and Arie Wilschut of Amsterdam University of Professional Education, this volume examines how students make sense of the history they’re taught, how they develop an understanding of historical meta-concepts, and what instructional strategies help students to make meaningful historical knowledge and understanding from what they learn in class. To order the book, go here.