An Experimental Study of the Use of Archive Materials in the Secondary School History Curriculum
2013-03-14T12:07:10Z (GMT) by
This study was prompted by the realisation that many teachers do not know how to make adequate use of the increasing amount of archive materials that have recently been made available in a form suitable for the classroom. Consideration is given first to the several challenges to the position of history on the school timetable and the suggestion is made that a greater use of enquiry-based techniques might enable children to be made more aware of the social and practical relevance of history as a school subject. A review of the research into the mental processes of children learning history also suggests that changes in technique are required to encourage a somewhat earlier development of formal thinking than is the case at present. Source materials are one form of resource which history teachers can utilise for enquiry-based work, and the variety of these and the problems they present in the classroom are next considered. The methods used to construct the archive packs for the research are described, together with an outline of the educational objectives that these were intended to achieve. The classroom trials are then considered. These were carried out in two stages. The aim of the first was twofold, to measure children's intellectual capabilities when handling unseen source materials and to assess the effect of a period spent using the archive packs on their levels of achievement in certain cognitive skills. The aim of the second was to examine how both the construction of the archive packs and the classroom conditions in which they were used affected children's achievement of the desired objectives. Conclusions are then drawn concerning both the structure of archive packs designed for school use and their utilisation for maximum effect with children over a wide range of age and ability.