Assessing Historical Discussion, pp. 6 of 6


Assessing historical discussions is not for everyone. Some teachers may consider assessment a barrier, rather than an aid, to improving discussion, while others may be unwilling or unable to devote the time needed to do it well. For those teachers who see value in such assessment, however, and who are willing to give it systematic attention, the guidelines in this article should prove helpful. These guidelines are not meant as strict formulas to be followed to the letter, but as ideas to draw from. Teachers will need to consider their own educational goals as well as the specific circumstances of their students and classrooms before deciding how to assess historical discussions. Yet any teacher who wants to engage in this process will need to carefully consider the three main tasks described here: identifying which skills to assess, how to teach them, and how to manage the task of providing feedback. Doing so can provide a valuable addition to students’ engagement in the full range of communication found in the field.


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Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Holubec, E. J. (1994). The new circle of learning: Cooperation in the classroom and school. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Knowles, R. T., & McCafferty-Wright, J. (2015). Connecting an open classroom climate to social movement citizenship: A study of 8th graders in Europe using the IEA ICCS data. The Journal of Social Studies Research, 39, 255-269. doi: 10.1016/j.jssr.2015.03.002

Larson, B. E., & Kepier, T. A. (2013). Instructional strategies for middle and high school. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Parker, W. C., & Hess, D. (2001). Teaching with and for discussion. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 273-289. doi:10.1016/S0742-051X(00)00057-3

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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