Towards an Effective Professional Development Model to Deepen History Teachers’ Understanding of Historical Concepts, pp. 5 of 16

As indicated in the above framework (Figure 1), each element in the model (Knowledge about subject, Knowledge about classroom practices and Knowledge about pupils) draws on specific components that builds on each knowledge base. These elements operate within a dynamic environment and form an inter-dependent relationship that makes up a history teacher’s knowledge bases. PD designs which place subject-matter knowledge alone at the core usually fail to capture the inter-relationship and dynamism of the different sorts of knowledge which history teachers routinely deploy in their classrooms (Husbands, 2011). The model suggested above strongly advocates the idea that learning to teach history not only involves the acquisition of subject-matter knowledge but also other kinds of knowledge critical to a history teacher’s competency (as shown in the framework). Designing an effective PD structure for history teachers would need to take this inter-relationship into consideration if it hopes to develop and strengthen a history teacher’s knowledge base.

Drawing on research around effective PD, the Master Class was designed to allow teachers to work together so that they would gain practical experience in constructing lesson strategies that could help their students explore, interpret and understand the past using the tools of disciplined historical inquiry. The workshop was conducted over three sessions with Dr. Afandi acting as the main facilitator and the Master Teachers playing the role of co-facilitators. The specific details regarding the Master Class can be found in Annex 1, but the intention behind the design may be worth highlighting here:

  • to create an intellectual space for teachers to analyse and identify key problems and challenges when developing lesson strategies to teach the historical concepts of “causation” and “accounts”;
  • to set aside time for teachers to work collaboratively to develop lesson ideas, teaching strategies and actual instructional materials for use in the history classroom; and
  • to provide an opportunity for teachers to implement these lesson ideas, critically evaluate instructional aspects, and collectively suggest ways to improve their lesson strategies and teaching resources.

Purpose of Study

While reference to academic literature guided the design and planning of the history Master Class, we also wanted to find out the extent to which the Master Class helped bring about changes (if any) in teachers’ classroom practice and their knowledge and beliefs regarding the PD content (i.e. the teaching of Causation and Accounts). In addition, we also wanted to identify which aspects of the Master Class PD had contributed to some of these changes. The research questions that supported our inquiry were:

  1. Did the Master Class bring about changes in teachers’ classroom practice, knowledge and beliefs regarding the PD content?
  2. What aspects of the Master Class contributed to the changes in teachers’ classroom practice, knowledge and beliefs regarding the PD content?

Related Teaching Materials

Annex30.36 KB

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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