Rethinking the Approach to Teaching Causation In the History Classroom, pp. 8 of 10

In contrast, Student B has shown little improvement since the pre-intervention essay that we looked at earlier. This can be seen in an argument that the student made:

The superpower rivalry between the USA and Soviet Union is one of the other factors. The USA and Soviet Union competed for influence over other countries. This was seen in the Berlin Blockade when Stalin imposed a blockade into West Berlin to... However, the USA responded with Berlin Airlift … However, the actions that Stalin and the USA did were seen as forms of confrontation and further worsened relations. This thus contributed to the development of the extreme state of tension between USA and Soviet Union.

The same issues are still present in that the student had merely described the respective actions of the USA and the USSR without explaining HOW these constituted “forms of confrontation” that could have “worsened relations”. In this regard, the student seemed to have moved to Level 2 of Lee and Shemilt (2009)’s model of progression where she seemed to be discussing causes but was actually construing them as “a species of especially potent events able to make other things happen” (p. 44). 

Two weeks after the end of the first phase of the intervention, the students sat for their timed writing test focused on the question: ‘The main reason why the Japanese lost the war in Asia-Pacific was because of US military might.’ How far do you agree with this statement?

One of the students, Student C, showed some ability in producing a sustained argument regarding the various factors in discussing the reasons for Japanese defeat during the Second World War. The student explained:

Finally, the last reason why Japan lost the war in Asia-Pacific was because of the over-extended Japanese empire….However, a small country like Japan... Her scarce resources were overstretched, along with the fact that she had to fuel her war machine for the ongoing war. It was only a matter of time before her defeat was inevitable as her resources burnt and died out quickly, leaving Japan with a crippled economy that could not sustain her war machine. With the inability to fight back, it was eventual that Japan would lose the Asia-Pacific war…. Thus, Japan’s defeat could not be avoided... (emphasis mine).

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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