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CONNECTING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT: STUDENT MEANING MAKING IN A MIDDLE SCHOOL WORLD HISTORY CLASSROOM

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Anderson, Michelle R (2011) CONNECTING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT: STUDENT MEANING MAKING IN A MIDDLE SCHOOL WORLD HISTORY CLASSROOM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This descriptive study investigates the ways that students in an Ancient History class make meaning of past events by relating them to their present lives and experiences. The study is grounded in theories of historical thinking, particularly focusing on the concepts of presentism and its usefulness for examining classroom teaching. The following two research questions guided the study: 1) How do students make connections between the past and present? 2) When given the opportunity in writing and discussion, in what ways are students engaging with distant events in the past? The research site was a middle school in a medium-sized city located in the Midwest. Data was collected in the Fall of 2010 over the course of eight weeks during two units of study (Ancient Civilizations Review and Ancient Greece). The following data sources were collected: five audio-recorded classroom discussions and other instruction, twelve interviews with students and student assignments and journal entries. The analysis revealed two categories of the students' thinking about the relevance of past events: (1) conflating the past with the present and the challenge of presentism, and (2) translating and adapting the past to the present. The data showed that some students viewed history from a presentist perspective that did not distinguish sufficiently between time periods. However, many students also applied lessons from the past to their own lives by associating historical ideas and themes to their individual experiences, which was especially evident in the discussions. Students tended to make sense of history by assigning meaning to the concepts they were studying in a personal manner and by finding similarities between the past and present.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Anderson, Michelle Rmra29@pitt.eduMRA29
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMyers, Johnmyersjp@pitt.eduMYERSJP
Committee MemberThein, Amanda
Committee MemberLazar, Merylmklazar@pitt.eduMKLAZAR
Committee MemberCrawford, Patriciapcrawfor@pitt.eduPCRAWFOR
Date: 7 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 15 August 2011
Approval Date: 7 September 2011
Submission Date: 27 August 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: historical understanding; student meaning making; history education; student engagement
Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-08272011-204038/, etd-08272011-204038
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:49
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9280

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