Historical Concepts and National Examinations: Have O-Level Structured-Essay Questions Encouraged the Teaching of Historical Concepts?, pp. 9 of 10

Table 2: Sample Questions Targeting Second-Order Historical Concepts

Historical Concept

Question

Explanation

Cause and Effect

Why did the Soviet Union send missiles to Cuba?

The concept of ‘cause and effect’ or ‘causation’ is currently assessed through the Structured Essay Questions (Section B) in the O-Level examination, and it is unlikely to disappear.

 

Change and Continuity

 

How did the international order change from the pre-WWII years to the post-WWII years (pre-1939 and post-1945)?

This question focuses on the idea of change and continuity from the pre-WWII world to the post-WWII world.  What changed?  What remained the same?  In order to answer the question, students would need to consider the international order in the pre-WWII world and the international order in the post-WWII world.  In so doing, they would need to delineate criteria to identify and explain aspects of the international order that changed and others that remained the same (continued).

Significance

Why was the Korean War important in the Cold War context?

This question focuses on the importance and significance of the Korean War in the larger context of the Cold War that dominated the second half of the 20th century.  How does the Korean War shed light on the Cold War in general?  In order to answer the question, students would need to consider why and how the Korean War had deep consequences throughout 20th century world history.  In so doing, they would need to identify and explain consequences of the Korean War that mattered long after the armistice was signed in 1953.

Consequence

How far do you agree that Hitler’s economic policies benefited the German people?

The concept of consequence is currently assessed through the Structured Essay Questions (Section B) in the O-Level examination, and it is unlikely to disappear.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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