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Open Access Student essays expressing historical thinking: A quantitative and dually qualitative analysis of 1,100 papers for the History Contest of the German President

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History educationalists internationally agree on describing historical thinking and learning on the basis of narrative theoretical models. However, it is striking that there is often a significant difference between rigorous, demanding theoretical and normative expectations, and disappointing empirical results. In the context of the student dissertation project presented here, a substantially wide range of essays has been chosen. More than 1,100 essays from history students between the ages of 7 and 21, with an average length of 33 pages, provide the foundation of this research project. Considering the amount of relevant data (the essays, and submissions using other genres) involved, we developed as a methodological evaluation tool a mixed-methods approach with an explanatory three-phase design (QUANT – QUANT/QUAL – QUAL). This paper presents theoretical and methodological approaches drawing upon examples plus exemplary results of the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of student essays. Thus, we present for discussion the potential of the research field for mixed-methods research.
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Keywords: HISTORICAL THINKING; MIXED METHODS; NARRATIVES; SUBJECT REFERENCES; YOUTH HISTORY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The History Education Research Journal (HERJ) is an international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the global significance and impact of history education. It covers all aspects of history education theory, scholarship, and pure and applied research. Articles illuminate contemporary issues, concerns, policies and practice, drawing upon the eclectic research methodologies of history education. The journal is published in partnership with the Historical Association.

    HERJ is a relaunch of the International Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research. All past issues up to and including vol. 15, no. 1 were published under this title. HERJ vol. 15, no. 2 is the first to be published by UCL IOE Press.
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