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The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > TPS Quarterly > Research and Current Thinking

For each issue, TPS partners submit summaries of and links to online resources—articles, research reports, Web sites, and white papers—that provide research and current thinking relating to the theme. This issue's Research & Current Thinking focuses on helping students to develop historical thinking skills using primary sources.

Benchmarks of Historical Thinking
Center for the Study of Historical Consciousness
This Canadian-based project's site combines historians' research and classroom teachers' experience and skills to: define historical thinking by identifying its key concepts; provide teaching strategies that promote historical thinking through development of those concepts; and publish tools to assess students' ability to demonstrate historical thinking.

Can Ten-Year-Olds Learn to Investigate History as Historians Do?
Bruce A. VanSledright, University of Maryland in College Park
Organization of American Historians Newsletter 28 (2000)
This article describes the author's study that addressed whether students as young as ten could become adept at historical inquiry. The author contends “that children should learn history with greater fidelity to the craft: analyzing primary and secondary sources, drawing inferences from sometimes thin and inconclusive data, plunging deeply into historical contexts, and creating narratives about the past.”

Digital History Reader
The Digital History Reader features two main content areas, United States History and European History, each broken out into modules. Appropriate for use with advanced history students at the secondary level, each module includes an introduction with objectives and historical questions to consider, historical context, an archive of documents with guiding questions, an assessment, a conclusion, and a list of related resources.

Historical Scene Investigation
“The Historical Scene Investigation Project (HSI) was designed for social studies teachers who need a strong pedagogical mechanism for bringing primary sources into their classroom.” Created by Kathleen Owings Swan, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Kentucky and Mark Hofer, Assistant Professor of Educational Technology at the College of William & Mary, the site features fourteen Historical Scene Investigation “cases” designed to build students' skills in historical thinking.

Historical Thinking Matters
Historical Thinking Matters is “a website focused on key topics in U.S. history that is designed to teach students how to critically read primary sources and how to critique and construct historical narratives.” The site's resources are divided into three areas: student investigations, why historical thinking matters, and teacher materials and strategies.

I Can Do This: Revelations on Teaching with Historical Thinking
Brad Burenheide, Kansas State University
The History Teacher, Vol. 41, No. 1, November 2007
In this article, the author explores “three aspects of historical instruction. The learning and use of historical knowledge, the positioning of the student in historical study, and the assessment of student learning while they are 'doing history.'” The author also reflects on how to integrate historical thinking into history instruction based on his own teaching experiences, established research and a recent study.

National History Education Clearinghouse
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, this site “is designed to help K-12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom.” Sections including History Content, Best Practices, Teaching American History (TAH) Grants, Teaching Materials, Issues & Research, and Professional Development.

Picturing Modern America 1880-1920
This site contains a number of interactive exercises that will help deepen students’ understanding of common topics in the study of modern America from 1880 to 1920 and build their skills in analyzing primary sources. Designed for use by students under the guidance of a teacher, these historical thinking exercises are organized into three categories: Image Detective, Investigations, and Exhibit Builder.

Reading Like a Historian Curriculum
The Stanford History Education Group's Reading Like a Historian curriculum provides 75 lessons that engage students in historical inquiry. “Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents modified for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.”

Reading and Rewriting History
Sam Wineburg and Daisy Martin, Stanford University
Educational Leadership, 61(1), 2004
“The ability to judge quality of information published and importance of Internet in departing knowledge to the students is described. The awareness among the students about topics in history and ability to discuss the topics show that they are well-informed readers, writers and thinkers.”

Teaching Historical Thinking
Frederick D. Drake, ERIC Digest, 2002.
“Over the past decade, cognitive studies researcher Samuel Wineburg has conducted empirical studies to compare the way historians think about primary and secondary sources with the thinking processes of high school students and teachers. This digest addresses Wineburg's conception of historical thinking and its application to the teaching and learning of history in schools.”