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Explaining the Third Reich: Swedish students' causal reasoning about the Nazi seizure of power in Germany
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3103-9229
2018 (English)In: Curriculum Journal, ISSN 0958-5176, E-ISSN 1469-3704, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 60-76Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The topic of this study is how Swedish students aged 15-16 use causal reasoning in history when given a high-stakes task about explaining a historically significant event, the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany. The study is based on student texts from the Swedish national test in history. The student texts are mainly analysed with regards to how many, and what kinds of, causal factors are used by the students. The study finds that while most students are able to combine agents and situational factors in their explanations, the explanations show a recurring theme of combining a generic sense of economic crisis with Hitler and the German people as the important agents, to the detriment of other causes that could open up for different interpretations of why the Nazi regime came to power. To counteract this, the study suggests increased emphasis on some contextual factors in teaching practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2018. Vol. 29, no 1, p. 60-76
Keywords [en]
History, assessment, subject knowledge, secondary schools
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67489DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2017.1398098ISI: 000432636600005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-67489DiVA, id: diva2:1214710
Available from: 2018-06-07 Created: 2018-06-07 Last updated: 2020-01-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Teaching and Learning Historical Explanation: Teacher and Student Cases from Lower and Upper Secondary History
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teaching and Learning Historical Explanation: Teacher and Student Cases from Lower and Upper Secondary History
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate and analyse how teachers and students understand the concept of historical explanation in the context of classroom teaching practices. The thesis is made up of four studies that investigate different aspects of understanding, focusing on either teacher or student understanding as expressed in words and actions.

 

The different studies employ differing methods, including classroom observations, interviews with teachers, and analysis of student answers to prompts intended for assessment. The studies include cases from both lower and upper secondary school in Sweden. The four studies provide empirical results that are presented in each individual study, and furthermore subjected to an aggregated analysis in order to find patterns of commonality. The aggregated analysis draws upon Rüsen's theory of historical knowledge, as well as a progression model for historical explanation based on results from previous research.

 

The results of the study show a clear difference between lower and upper secondary school in how students at each stage construct historical explanations, indicating differing expectations of what students are supposed to do with explanations in each stage. Teachers' practices are more varied: while a majority of the included teachers manifest a disciplinary understanding of historical explanation, in line with previous research about historical explanation in educational contexts, other approaches with other emphases are also present. These include an emphasis of learning explanations as sets of facts, as well as approaches that aim for making the knowledge of historical explanation useful outside of the history subject. Examples of such aims found in the study are to enhance empathetic understanding of other people, and helping students to orient themselves in relation to present-day issues.

Abstract [en]

Historical explanation is a fundamental component of historical accounts. Learning how to construct and analyse such explanations is therefore an important aspect of the process of teaching and learning history. This thesis investigates how teachers and students in Sweden handle this aspect in the context of education and assessment.

 

The thesis consists of four different studies that alternate the focus on either students or teachers, in lower or upper secondary school. Teachers are investigated mainly through classroom observations, students mainly through analyses of written answers.

 

The study analyses common patterns among teachers and students, finding that student answers to a high degree conform to the knowledge requirements of the course they are studying. Teachers present a wider and more varied understanding of historical explanation that goes beyond what is captured in the knowledge requirements, indicating the potential for explanations to develop empathy, and for helping students to orient themselves in relation to present-day issues.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2020. p. 169
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2020:8Studier i de samhällsvetenskapliga ämnenas didaktik ; 38
Keywords
history education, historical explanation, causation, cause and consequence, explanatory progression, historical thinking, use of history
National Category
History Didactics
Research subject
History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-76141 (URN)978-91-7867-091-8 (ISBN)978-91-7867-101-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-02-21, 9C 203, Karlstad, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-01-31 Created: 2020-01-09 Last updated: 2020-01-31Bibliographically approved

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Wendell, Joakim

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