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A case study: What the six facets of understanding reveal about how exemplary history teachers teach historical thinking skills in secondary history classrooms Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationThis cross-case study was designed to develop an understanding of the instructional practices of two exemplary teachers identifying the ways that each teacher demonstrates and teaches historical thinking skills in this study. Specifically, the study relied on a unique framework, the National Standards of Historical Thinking (HTS) overlaid by the Six Facets of Understanding to examine instructional practice. The two teachers in this study 1) meet criteria established over three areas of teacher knowledge (Shulman, 1986), 2) teach historical thinking skills outlined by HTS (National Center for History in the Schools, 1994) and, 3) demonstrate an understanding of historical thinking skills using the facets of understanding (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). Data sources comprised of a preliminary survey, transcripts from observations and interviews, and documents utilized during each observed lesson for each teacher over 12 class periods. A key finding of this study is that the six facets of understanding reveal the types and frequency of instructional practices that two exemplary history teachers use to teach historical thinking skills. Classroom observations and interviews provided evidence that each teacher used a combination of multiple instructional strategies, resources, and models to teach historical thinking. Additional findings emerged by examining the results of this study in conjunction with existing literature and the theoretical framework. The researcher determined: 1. Both teachers' perceptions influence instructional practice;2. Both teachers emphasize historical thinking skills and emphasis placed on each historical thinking skill is similar;3. Both teachers' decisions regarding how much emphasis to place on particular historical thinking skills were influenced by standardized assessments; 4. While similar resources are utilized by both teachers in this study, instructional strategies were implemented differently for Advanced Placement versus non-Advanced Placement level students; 5. Although Jim and Tina used a combination of the six facets to demonstrate an understanding of historical thinking skills, both teachers relied most heavily on the facet of application; 6. Although the six facets of understanding revealed how two exemplary teachers in this study implement historical thinking skills, this lens does not uncover other aspects of life in the classroom that influence the instructional process.

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