Rethinking the Approach to Teaching Causation In the History Classroom, pp. 7 of 10

Some of the students also believed that they learnt more about causation as shown in their reflections, each revealing varying degrees of understanding and sophistication:

I have learnt that things might not always be so simple and direct by only having one cause to lead to an effect. Many a times, it is a combination of a few factors that caused an effect or consequence to happen. I have to then be further more meticulous in how I separate the main factors, underlying factors, contributing factors, etc.

(Student A)

I have learnt that root factor led to the build-up of the supporting factors ultimately leading to the issue.

(Student C)

However, although some of their comments were insightful and showed what they professed in their apparent understanding of the way causality operates, this did not always translate into their actual essays, which did not match with their professed understanding of causality.

What can be said about the quality of students’ writing?

It would be premature to make sweeping claims on the quality of students’ writing based on the three weeks of the first phase of intervention. The following observations regarding the quality of students’ writing are necessarily tentative.

In response to the question: To what extent was conflicting ideologies the main cause for the origin and development of the Cold War?” only one out of the three students, Student A, demonstrated some inkling about the relative hierarchy and importance of factors in bringing about the onset of the Cold War. Nonetheless, the argument was not very sophisticated, as the student had not considered the degree of importance these factors may play in contributing to the development of the Cold War. For example, whether distrust and suspicion were more or less important than the conflicting ideologies that set the stage for the start of the Cold War was not clearly elucidated. Nevertheless, the student had begun to use some linguistic tools in explaining causation (bold words mine emphasis):

Conflicting ideology contributed significantly to the cold war’s origin and development. The differences in ideology was the root problem that paved the way to conflicts in each countries... However, there were other factors such as suspicion and distrust that built up over time within the superpowers and the difference post war attitudes after world war 2 that contributed greatly to the development of the cold war….

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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