Historical Thinking

History (n.) is the study of past human behavior in the context of its times from the evidence that remains.

(By Matthew Pinsker)

General Methods

For additional resources on historical methods, go to the Osborne Center for Historical Methods from the Dickinson College History Department and take advantage of selected materials from the Dickinson College Library:

Historical Thinking

What is “historical thinking”?  The phrase is a shorthand for the types of skills used by historians.  The Dickinson History Department organizes that concept into five learning objectives for all students:

1. Develop historical perspectives
2. Express themselves clearly
3. Locate relevant information
4. Identify key historical issues and debates
5. Support plausible historical arguments

But other institutions define historical thinking in different ways.  In particular, Sam Wineburg, a noted scholar of history education, has created a number of resources for classroom teachers to promote historical thinking around five (other) core components:

  1. Multiple Accounts & Perspectives
  2. Analysis of Primary Documents
  3. Sourcing
  4. Understanding Historical Context
  5. Claim-Evidence Connection

Students in History 204 can find examples of Wineburg-influenced work at TeachingHistory.org and HistoricalThinkingMatters.org.  Or read Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2001), [GOOGLE BOOKS].