Historical argument writing: the role of interpretive work, argument type, and classroom instruction
This study examines whether and how five novice history teachers incorporated writing into their instruction. We analyzed observations, student writing, teacher feedback and interviews, and classroom artifacts from teachers’ preservice program experiences and first 2 years of teaching. All novices included writing in their instruction; however; we find that their use of writing required different types of historical work and arguments. We also found that key aspects of classroom instruction leading up to writing shaped students’ argument writing. The process leading up to writing—including task, prompt, related activities, and how they’re situated in a unit—was a major factor in shaping the purpose of the assignment, the type of argument involved, and the historical work required to complete it. This article builds the case for explicit attention to the historical work and type of argument embedded in assignments, instruction, and student work in order to strengthen history teacher education and research in history classrooms.
KeywordsHistory education Social studies education Writing Argumentation
The authors wish to thank Mary Schleppegrell for her support in considering the linguistic features of teachers’ and students’ work on writing. The authors also wish to thank the novice teachers and their students who participated in this study, and Melissa Cochran, Christopher Budano, and Kristen Harris who worked on this project.
This work was generously funded by a Spencer Foundation Grant.
- Bain, R. (2005). They thought the world was flat: Applying the principles of how people learn in teaching high school history. In M. S. Donovan & J. D. Bransford (Eds.), How students learn: History in the classroom (pp. 179–214). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Bruner, J. S. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Carr, E. H. (1961). What is history?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Coffin, C. (2006). Historical discourse: The language of time, cause, and evaluation. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Collingwood, R. G. (1943). The idea of history. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cuban, L. (2015). Teaching history then and now. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.Google Scholar
- Felton, M. K., & Herko, S. (2004). From dialogue to two-sided argument: Scaffolding adolescents’ persuasive writing. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47(8), 672–683.Google Scholar
- Fulkerson, R. (1996). The Toulmin model of argument and the teaching of composition. In B. Emmel, P. Resch, & D. Tenney (Eds.), Argument revisited, argument redefined: Negotiating meaning in the composition classroom (pp. 45–72). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Adeline.Google Scholar
- Hexter, J. H. (1971). The history primer. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Holt, T. (1995). Thinking historically: Narrative, imagination, and understanding. New York, NY: College Entrance Examination Board.Google Scholar
- Leinhardt, G. (2000). Lessons on teaching and learning in history from Paul’s pen. In P. Stearns, P. Seixas, & S. Wineburg (Eds.), Knowing, teaching, and learning history (pp. 223–245). New York, NY: NYU Press.Google Scholar
- Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Mink, L. O. (1987). Historical understanding. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Monte-Sano, C. (2009). Writing to learn history: Annotations and mini-writes. National history education clearinghouse. http://teachinghistory.org/teaching-materials/teaching-guides/23554.
- Monte-Sano, C. (2017). Bridging reading and writing: Using historians’ writing processes as clues to support students. In G. Andrews & Y. Wangdi (Eds.), The role of agency and memory in historical understanding: Revolution, reform, and rebellion (pp. 247–265). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
- National Center for Educational Statistics. (2002). The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History. Retrieved May 2003. http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ushistory/itemmapgr12.asp.
- National Council for the Social Studies. (2013). The college, career, and civic life (C3) framework for social studies state standards: Guidance for enhancing the rigor of K-12 civics, economics, geography, and history. Retrieved May 2014. https://www.socialstudies.org/c3.
- National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common core state standards. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.Google Scholar
- Page, R. N. (1991). Lower track classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
- Ravitch, D., & Finn, C. (1987). What do our 17-year-olds know?. New York, NY: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
- Schwab, J. J. (1978). Education and the structure of the disciplines. In I. Westbury & N. J. Wilkof (Eds.), Science, curriculum and liberal education: Selected essays (pp. 229–272). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Yin, R. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar