Aaron K. Shaw

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Leigh D’Amico


History education provides a valuable asset in the education of youth from the integration of disciplines to the opportunity to stimulate higher order thinking in high school students. However, little research before the 1990’s had been done to improve the century old pedagogy of presentation and memorization. This study looked at the historical thinking skills of sourcing, contextualization and corroboration, presented in Sam Wineburg’s (1991b) research comparing high school students with professional historians. This mixed methods study explored the impact of focused instruction in high school social studies classrooms using the three historical thinking skills to determine the effectiveness of this instruction as a tool to learn the skills in a way that the students could evaluate historical events using the skills. The participants, high school sophomores, showed modest improvement in the skills of sourcing and contextualization, and they showed minimal improvement in the skill of corroboration. The intervention required a 50% increase in lessons focused on contextualization due to student confusion, but this led to the highest improvement of skill level. Sourcing and corroboration showed measured improvement in four and six students respectively. Overall, the intervention led to student improvement in all areas, and extended lessons and expanded curriculum could result in extensive improvement in historic thinking skills.