Making Historical Thinking Visible: Examining the Development of Pre-Service Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge around Six Historical Thinking Concepts.

Year: 2017

Author: Gouldin, James, Allender, Tim, Tong Chia, Yeow, Smyth, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The fundamental principle underpinning constructivist approaches to learning is that knowledge is actively constructed by learners, as opposed to transmitted from teacher to learner (Phillips, 1995). Following from this, one of the key tenets of constructivism is the notion that the process of learning is as important (if not more so) than the product produced at the end. For educators to focus on the learning process, however, they must find ways of making these thinking processes visible (Ritchart, Church & Morrison, 2011), which allows for better understandings of student learning, and provides opportunities to correct any of their misconceptions. Traditionally one of the most common methods of making thinking visible is through verbal discussion, and this remains an important aspect of teaching and learning. However there is also a range of other techniques available for creative adaptation to meet these needs. To this end this paper is predicated on the idea that digital tools can serve such a function in the history and history education classroom.

The aim of this paper is to examine the findings of an ongoing project undertaken by history educators at the University of Sydney. This project examines how pre-service teachers develop their pedagogical content knowledge around the six historical thinking concepts embedded within stages 1-5 of the Australian Curriculum History (Continuity and Change; Cause and Effect; Perspectives; Historical Empathetic Understanding; Significance; and Contestability.). The project is structured using a web-facilitated assessment task where pre-service teachers are required to develop practical approaches for making historical thinking processes explicit in classrooms using digital tools. The way the assessment was structured, including the use of Backward Mapping Frameworks and numerous feedback cycles, also provided the research team with opportunities to make pre-service teacher thinking visible as they developed their pedagogical content knowledge in this complex task.

The outcomes of the initial phases of this project include: (i) an online archive containing rich tasks targeted at developing student historical thinking; (ii) a platform to facilitate the development of pre-service teacher's pedagogical content knowledge around historical thinking: (iii) and a digital tool that will enable university based researchers to track these understandings as they are developed.