What Will They Do Today? Five Ideas for Doing History with Students

AHA Session 128
Friday, January 5, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Washington Room 3 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)
Lendol G. Calder, Augustana College
The Audience

Session Abstract

This panel will function similarly to a roundtable by providing five ten-minute discussions of practical ideas for engaging students in the work of history followed by forty minutes of audience participation and comment.

Today, with history majors declining across the country, there is a growing effort to attract more students to the discipline by correcting their misconceptions about what the discipline involves and revealing how historians “do” history, not just for graduate students and senior history majors, but for all students. This has been one of the great benefits of the AHA’s Tuning Project which has moved historical thinking skills, competencies and practices of the discipline to the forefront of our conversations about history education. This new approach to teaching our discipline requires not only the new set of learning outcome statements and core competencies developed by the Tuning Project, but also a transformation of the classroom experience itself. This means encouraging students to be not merely passive consumers of content, but active participants in reading, analyzing, comparing, weighing and questioning the sources that are the building blocks of our discipline. It also means introducing non-traditional sources, developing new ways of looking at these sources, constructing active learning assignments, and crafting alternative forms of assessment. The five historians in this roundtable have all been active participants in either the Tuning Project or the C3 Framework design; two projects dedicated to introducing historical thinking skills and practice into the classroom. These five speakers will address ways in which they have moved into this more active approach, corrected misconceptions about sources and narratives, introduced students to how historians “do” history, prioritized historical thinking and practice, and in general transformed their students’ experience of history in the classroom. Lendol Calder will share how he uses an “Overture” unit at the beginning of courses to correct students’ misconceptions about the nature of historical knowledge and introduce them to the way historians construct accounts of the past. Sarah Shurts will share the inquiry based approach and collection of materials and active learning assignments she uses in her Western Civilization courses that introduce survey level students to the questions historians ask and the sources and scholarship they use to answer them. John Savagian will discuss how he effectively teaches for outcomes in US History that stress speaking, thinking, researching, and writing in the discipline by providing engaging active learning assignments and assessments that give students the opportunity to practice the work of historians. Peter Burkholder shares how he challenges students’ expectations of qualitative argument and evidence and how he helps students see our discipline in a new light by introducing quantitative approaches to history. Finally, Flannery Burke will share three of her active learning assignments that engage students in the work of historians and give them a real connection to the course and the topics they will study.

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