A Cognitive Rationale for a Problem-Based US History Survey

Charles T. Wynn
2015 Teaching History: A Journal of Methods  
In recent years, calls for reform of the coverage-based history survey course have been numerous, 1 as have suggestions for new instructional approaches designed to promote more active, meaningful, and applicable learning among students. Much of the "Scholarship on the Teaching and Leaming" of history ( often called So TL) within a survey course context comes through a focused disciplinary lens. Illustrative of the discussion is David Pace's call for a cognitive frame of reference within this
more » ... cus through two broad questions: "What do students bring to the history classroom that might have a major impact on their learning?" and "What mental operations and procedures must [students] master in order to think historically?" 2 Questions of this type, as well as the fundamental belief that historical thinking is crucial in the teaching and learning of history in a survey course context, have guided SoTL scholars such as David Pace, Sam Wineburg, Lendol Calder, and Robert Bain to apply cognitive learning dynamics to help explain how students may acquire "habits of mind" of the historian. 3 Historical thinking is broadly defined as the reading, analysis, and writing that is necessary to develop an understanding of the past. 4 Developing these skills among survey students calls for domain-specific scaffolds within the context of historical inquiry,5 under the assumption that the knowledge and analytical skills gained from such practice will be useful in a broader general education context as students
doi:10.33043/th.40.1.28-42 fatcat:3ce56veunvgnlcpeq3tosundrm