Booth, Alan. Teaching History at University: Enhancing Learning and Understanding. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Booth’s monograph on the pedagogy of teaching history analyzes how instructors can commit themselves to ensuring high-quality student learning at the university level. He begins his analysis by citing a survey which found that most students in history survey courses are education or business majors, not history majors. This fact, coupled with the dwindling number of history majors, rising costs of university education, student and faculty workload increases, and growing administrative control over course design, provides seemingly insurmountable challenges for history pedagogy. However, Booth argues that through various teaching methods, including encouraging active learning, understanding contextual factors, incorporating learner-oriented practices, assessment, and more, educators can enhance student’s knowledge of history, regardless of their discipline or major. Utilizing decades of educational research, and providing his readers with extensive historiography on models of teaching and scholarship, Booth offers numerous insights into transforming education, theory, and the practice of teaching history.
Burton, Antoinette M. A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.
Burton’s workbook on course design encourages instructors to think about their “syllabus as an argument for the urgency of sedimenting protocols of historical thinking and analysis at the heart of discussions about the global.”[i] Intended for world history instructors or those who wish to emphasize the global connections of their topic, Burton outlines foundations, strategies, and technologies for syllabus design. The most prominent challenges in world history syllabus design include where to start, what to cover, how to reconcile the macro with the micro, and thinking globally. She offers various solutions, such as incorporating primary sources to challenge top-down views of history, using genealogy to provide backstory, utilizing empires as a framework, and integrating digital narratives and global archives. Burton concludes that while she offers a starting point for reinvigorating and restructuring world history syllabi, the process of refining the syllabus is ongoing, as it needs to be adjusted to meet new methods of student learning and new pedagogy.
[i] Antoinette M. Burton, A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012), kindle edition.
Calder, Lendol. "Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey." The Journal of American History, March 2006, 1358-370.
Calder’s article discusses the challenges of teaching history survey courses and the limitations of the traditional “coverage-oriented survey” which focuses more on scope (the attempt to cover everything by providing the “facts first”) rather than understanding. Calder calls for a pedagogical review and design of a signature history pedagogy similar to that of law and medical school, which utilize teaching methodology, as inspiration to encourage students to practice history. He proposes that history teachers should also utilize the method of “uncoverage” in their survey, a method which exposes “the very things hidden away by traditional survey instruction: the linchpin ideas of historical inquiry that are not obvious or easily comprehended.”[i] Calder describes his success in employing this method in his ten-week U.S. History survey course, and concludes that this approach fostered critical discussions and historical thinking in his classroom.
[i] Lendol Calder, "Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey," The Journal of American History, March 2006, 1363.
Chickering, Arthur W., and Zelda F. Gamson. "Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education." Washington Center News, Fall 1987.
Chickering and Gamson provide seven guidelines in their article for improving undergraduate education, all of which encourage participation from faculty, staff, and students to take ownership of student’s education. These guidelines include encouraging contact between students and faculty; developing reciprocity and cooperation among students; encouraging active learning; giving prompt feedback; emphasizing time on task communicating high expectations, and respecting diverse talents and ways of learning.[i] In discussing these principles, the authors explain that these guidelines apply to all programs and students because they encourage, among other things, interaction, expectations, cooperation, and responsibility. The authors concede that their approach is focused merely on how content is taught, not what is included, but conclude that for these principles to be successful, State and federal governments need to support and invest in the improvement of undergraduate education.
[i] Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson, "Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education," Washington Center News, Fall 1987.
Eng, Norman. Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students. New York: Norman Eng, 2017.
Eng begins his guide by arguing that the two most significant problems facing higher education are that students inherently do not care about specific courses and that college instructors do not know how to teach university courses. These factors have caused a crisis in colleges, one that Eng proposes can be resolved by fusing various approaches from marketing and education, including more interaction and active learning. He provides superficial tips on improving pedagogy, including reducing lecture length, knowing your “target audience,” creating meaningful experiences, marketing strategies that include “touching the audience,” and more. By emphasizing the service component of education, visualizing the student as a customer, and teaching as a service with knowledge as the product, Eng concludes that educators can reinvigorate higher education and enhance “pedagogical effectiveness by a factor of ten.” [i]
[i] Norman Eng, Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students (New York: Norman Eng, 2017), kindle edition.
Kelsky, Karen. Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2015.
Kelsky’s work describes the numerous crises affecting academia today; rising tuition costs, increasing student body, decreasing full-time faculty and tenure-track positions, and growing adjunct jobs that only pay roughly $23,000 a year. Kelsky makes it very clear at the beginning of her book that coveted positions in academia are few and far between, and emphasizes that there is work outside of academia for history entrepreneurs. Kelsky explains that her mission in life is to alleviate graduate student ignorance about the reality of the job market in academia, how difficult it is to find a tenure-track position and to expose the departments and professors that help perpetuate or foster this misconception. Ultimately, she provides practical tips on interview demeanor, interviewing questions and processes, CV construction, how to acquire necessary experience during graduate school, how to ask for references, cover letter construction, teaching statements, and more. Her stated goal in writing this book is to provide students currently seeking a Ph.D., or those thinking of pursuing a Ph.D., the facts of the job market, and to embody the role of an advisor by providing graduate students the necessary tools to be successful on the job hunt.
Lindaman, Dana, and Kyle Roy Ward. History Lessons: How Textbooks from around the World Portray U.S. History. New York: New Press, 2004.
The authors of this work describe a glaring lack of knowledge on the part of U.S. students in regards to other cultures and countries, especially when compared with the amount of exposure other nations receive about U.S. culture and politics, specifically within their textbooks. To expose and help remedy this discrepancy, to provide a comparative framework for world history textbooks, and to uncover the ways in which other countries teach U.S. History, Lindaman and Ward compiled selections from textbooks around the world on various topics traditionally discussed in U.S. history textbooks, including the American Revolution, slavery, World War II, and the growth of superpower economic centers. This work exposes the nationalistic, master narrative of U.S. textbooks, our isolationist framework, and provides crucial insight into how other nations perceive and discuss U.S. history.
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: New Press, 2007.
Loewen, a sociologist and former textbook author, examines six high school American history textbooks in his work to discover why most high school students fundamentally hate learning history. For his review, he selects several themes, topics, and people covered by each textbook (Columbus, racism, Vietnam,etc.) and compares and contrasts the narrative, scope, and sources for each. From his analysis, he attributes student’s apathy to history textbooks and history to several factors, including excessive textbook length (the average textbook length of those he examined is 1,150 pages), a teleological historical narrative, “heroification,” and excessive nationalism. He concludes that “textbooks supply irrelevant and even erroneous details while omitting pivotal questions and facts in their treatments of issues… [offering] students no practice in applying their understanding of the past to present concerns.”[i] Loewen blames the textbook adoption boards of various state, and their censorship of sensitive or offensive materials, teacher inertia, and freelance writers for the lack of representation, student engagement, and Eurocentrism in teaching history through the textbook.
[i] James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (New York: New Press, 2007), kindle edition.
Lévesque, Stéphane. Thinking Historically: Educating Students for the Twenty-first Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.
Lévesque focuses on the critical notion of thinking historically as a tool for encouraging students to engage with history and practice history thinking skills. In his introduction, Lévesque describes the dichotomy of memory-history, describing how “memory is absolute while history is relative,” and explains that institutions that perpetuate memory-history contribute to the current predicament in history teaching, which perpetuates nationalism, heroism, and superficial treatments of history.[i] He presents another approach to teaching history, disciplinary-history through historical thinking, which encourages students to not only grasp the basic facts of historical events, but to also utilize historical research methods to transform their approach. Lévesque offers an in-depth analysis of historical thinking pedagogy, including how students absorb information (substantive vs. procedural knowledge), and the importance of utilizing certain procedural concepts, including historical significance, continuity and change, progress and decline, evidence, and historical empathy. Lévesque’s goal in writing this book is to encourage educators to engage their students and demonstrate to students how to practice history.
[i] Stéphane Lévesque, Thinking Historically: Educating Students for the Twenty-first Century (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), kindle edition.
Middendorf, Joan, and David Pace. "Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking." New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 98 (Summer 2008): 1-12.
Middendorf and Pace offer a brief analysis on recent developments in pedagogical literature as educators have discussed and applied new concepts such as “critical thinking,” “cognitive apprenticeship,” and knowledge structure and higher-order thinking within their classrooms. The authors present the Decoding the Disciplines model, a procedural concept practiced by the Indiana University Faculty Learning Community that successfully ensconces students “deeply into the specifics of thinking and learning in the disciplines,” as instructors focus on the following questions in their classrooms; What is a bottleneck to learning in this class? How does an expert do these things? How can these tasks be explicitly modeled? How will students practice these skills and get feedback? What will motivate the students? How well are students mastering these learning tasks? How can the resulting knowledge about learning be shared? [i] This framework, the authors argue, helps students to practice disciplinary skills and receive critical feedback in a dynamic assessment-oriented, inquiry-based space. While stressing the fact that this model is not a “prescriptive formula,” the authors conclude that it is a useful tool to help instructors develop coursework, to ensure understanding, and to encourage students to practice disciplinary thinking skills.
[i] Joan Middendorf and David Pace, "Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking," New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 98 (Summer 2008): 2.
Pace, David. "Decoding the Reading of History: An Example of the Process." New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 98 (Summer 2004): 13-21.
Pace recounts his experiences applying the Decoding the Disciplines Model in his history classroom and describes in detail his attempts to utilize steps 1 through 7 with his students in regards to reading and understanding history texts. In this article, Pace explains that he noticed one of the most significant discrepancies in learning emerged from understanding texts. He accurately points out that the action of “reading texts” has different meanings for different disciplines, and the process should be explained to students in every classroom. He argues that for students to be successful in a history course, they need to be taught how to make sense of large volumes of text. Pace describes how he was able to show students to discern essential versus non-essential information from documents, establish reading patterns to help glean valuable information, and how to prioritize readings and passages. Pace concludes that the Decoding the Disciplines model is highly successful as all of these steps contributed to the student’s knowledge of analyzing secondary sources.
Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.
Understanding by Design (UbD) seeks to provide instructors with course design planning tools to improve student understanding within the classroom. Wiggins and McTighe present various case studies of instruction, including a classroom with many hands-on activities and another lecture-based, coverage-focused class, and argue that both teaching styles lack learning goals and adequate course design. The authors discuss the importance of focusing on curriculum, assessment, and instruction, and claim that these UbD tools encourage “content mastery and understanding” by emphasizing assessment, student engagement, goal-oriented curricula design, and more.[i] Their focus is on designing to foster understanding, which they define as “the ability to marshal skills and facts wisely and appropriately, through effective application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.”[ii] The goal is to ensure that students understand by design, by the intentional transference of skills and knowledge, rather than by chance or the regurgitation of facts.
[i] Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design (Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005)