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Historical Thinking Skills

Historical Thinking Skills

This course will address historical skills or habits of mind.  Using reliable and detailed information, we will analyze events of world history using the following historical thinking skills:

1) Crafting historical arguments from historical evidence

This will include constructing meaningful interpretations of information through the analysis of relevant historical evidence.  Crafting your argument is crucial to writing a historical essay.  This requires the ability to identify, describe and evaluate evidence with respect to content, authorship, purpose, format, and audience.

2) Chronological reasoning

Students must be able to identify, analyze, and evaluate relationships between multiple historical causes and effects, whether short or long term.  This will include the ability to look at how things change or continue over time, making connections to course themes and global processes.  This skill also includes "periodization," or the ability to categorize events into discrete blocks and identify turning points between those blocks.

3) Comparison and contextualization

Students will be able to compare related historical developments and processes across time, place, and or different societies.  This includes evaluating historical phenomenon for multiple and differing perspectives.  As world history doesn't concentrate on any one region or era of the past, comparison is particularly important.  It is also important to connect historical developments to specific circumstances of time and place as well as to broader regional, national or global processes--contextualization.  This is really just looking at how something happening in a region of the world is impacted by OR impacts what is happening elsewhere in the world--the big picture.

4) Historical interpretation and synthesis

We will spend a good deal of time looking at primary and secondary historical sources.  Students will be required to evaluate sources for the writer's point of view.  With secondary sources, this will involve determining how the writer's point of view influences their historical interpretation as well as how historical interpretations change over time.  Students will also be required to analyze evidence in the form of maps, charts, graphs, and images in addition to textual information/evidence.  Finally, synthesis requires that students pull together all the other historical thinking skills so as to arrive at meaningful and persuasive understandings of the past by drawing on evidence from different fields of inquiry or disciplines.  They must then creatively fuse relevant information/evidence from both primary and secondary sources into a solid historical argument.