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The asymmetrical influence of identity: a triadic interaction among Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and historical texts

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This study engaged Israeli-Jewish and Israeli-Arab students in a joint investigation of their common past by means of secondary historical sources. The hypothesis was that a triadic interaction among agents of groups with opposing views and historical texts can foster historical thinking. It was expected that while ethnic identity would drive both sides, the mutual criticism in a setting that encourages analytic discussion would bring about learning. Following an analysis of essays written before and during the inter-ethnic collaboration as well as transcripts of students' meetings, it was found that students' work was influenced by majority-minority power relations. In a joint writing effort, the Jews dominated actions that did not directly concern the conflict, and the Arabs dominated those that did. Nonetheless, the students' epistemology evolved to recognize the interpretive nature of history and the bias inherent in humans, as reflected in the analysis of the essays.
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Keywords: Israel; Wiki; collaborative learning; conflict; ethnic identity; historical thinking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91905 Jerusalem, Israel 2: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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