Students’ Understanding of Historical Sources – A Composite Ability
Nyckelord:HISTORICAL THINKING, HISTORICAL SOURCES, EVIDENCE, SOURCE-CRITICAL CRITERIA, STUDENT IDEAS, CRITICAL ASPECTS
This paper investigates what students need to learn, to be able to interpret and evaluate sources, in relation to specific subject matter addressing Imperialism and Decolonization. The History-didactical framework used stems from the Historical Thinking tradition and the method applied is a textual analysis informed by theoretical assumptions originating from Variation theory. Data is derived from assignments generated in two Learning Studies undertaken in a Swedish upper secondary school. Specific aspects were identified as critical for our students’ ability to handle the sources in a composite manner. On a more general level results indicate that the application of source-criticism only in the form of source-critical criteria is not the ideal choice, since their design not necessarily seem to encourage students to interpret and evaluate sources from a composite standpoint. A proposal given is that the development of students’ ability to handle historical sources might benefit if Swedish history instruction adopted elements associated with the second order concept of evidence and allowed such practices to complement usage of source-critical criteria.