Stimulating historical thinking in a classroom discussion: The role of the teacher

Harry Havekes, Carla van Boxtel, Peter-Arno Coppen, Johan Luttenberg


In this article we describe strategies history teachers use to guide student historical thinking in a classroom discussion. We focus on three challenges for the teacher: a) exploring several possible answers; b) stimulating the use of specialized language; c) thinking about the quality of answers. We analysed the prompts of the teachers on general guiding (such as problematizing the remarks of the student) and on guiding historical thinking, to which we refer as components of knowing and doing history. We identify that teachers use three strategies: (1) broadening student thinking by focusing on knowing history; (2) deepening student thinking by focusing on doing history; (3) enhancing student thinking by integrating knowing and doing history. We show that teachers do not stick with one of these strategies but that they choose a strategy that gives students the best chance of taking the next step in historical thinking.


Historical thinking, contextualisation, classroom discussion, teacher strategies.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Harry Havekes, Carla van Boxtel, Peter-Arno Coppen, Johan Luttenberg

Historical Encounters is a double blind peer-reviewed, open access, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the empirical and theoretical study of historical consciousness, historical cultures, and history education.

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A/ Professor Robert J. Parkes, PhD
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