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Att lära historia i mellanstadiet: Undervisningsresurser och elevtexter i ett medeltidstema
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Scandinavian Languages. (Forskarskolan i läs- och skrivutveckling)
2011 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Learning history in Middle School : Educational Resources and Students’ Texts in a History Project on The Middle Ages (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to study the conditions surrounding young students’ text production in the subject of History. The study, which was performed within a class in grade 4, describes a project where the students produced individual books about the Middle Ages. The study analyzes the educational resources that the students were offered to produce a chapter on the Black Death and how nine students made use of these resources in their texts. Three resourses were analyzed: the teachers’ oral storytelling, the instructions and the designated chapter in the textbook. The material, which was collected through an ethnographic approach with participant observation and interviews, consists of field notes, films, photographs, student texts and teaching materials.

The resources were analyzed through sociocultural and socio­semiotic methods. The results show that the oral communication is dominated by the teachers’ storytelling which is perceived as interes­ting and engaging by the students. This is especially true for the dramatized parts that seem to have a potential for providing a deep contextualization of the content. However, the students opportunities to formulate and discuss the content before producing their own texts are limited. The history textbook provides subject-specific knowledge as well as typical features of school history texts, but as the text is mainly processed individually the students are not made aware of this. The results indicate that both the students and the teacher perceive the project as an exercise in writing and that the content subsequently appears to be secondary. This is likely due to the fact that the instructions are general writing instructions rather than content-based or subject-specific.

The texts produced by the students show a variation in length, number of headlines, images, and use of resources (written and oral, or just written). The instructions urge the students to retell the designated text ”in their own words" and explicitly forbid copying. The results show that the instruction is perceived in two different ways. Five students use the textbook as their main resource avoiding copying by developing various strategies such as exchanging or skipping words, summarizing paragraphs or combining chunks of existing sentences into new ones. Four students take a different approach and base their texts mainly on the oral storytelling, which might be seen as an example of retelling in one’s own words.

The existence of two different strategies can be explained by the fact that the resources are part of two simultaneous but contradictory aspirations: the oral classroom practice which maximizes engagement and the pursuit of empathy and the written practice which aims at critical training where source awareness and avoidance of copying are stressed as important. Since there are few links between the two classroom practices the students are put in a position where they have to transform either the text book or the oral story into a new text.

Previous research shows that learning in History is promoted by the ability to generalize and understand the connection between events, the ability to draw conclusions from multiple sources and the ability to relate to the content with historical empathy. Writing and text production in History therefore need to take account of the subject specific ways of communicating and creating knowledge. The results from this study also underline the importance of using and recognizing semiotic resources such as images and drama as an important part of young students’ learning in History.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för nordiska språk , 2011. , 133 p.
MINS: Meddelanden från Institutionen för nordiska språk vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0348-3568 ; 61
Keyword [en]
history, narrative texts, semiotic resources, Middle school, textbooks
National Category
Specific Languages Didactics
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62838ISBN: 91-86762-64-8OAI: diva2:463567
2011-10-19, Hörsal 8, Universitetsvägen 10D, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-12-09 Created: 2011-10-03 Last updated: 2012-01-24Bibliographically approved

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Mins 61, Susanne Staf, 2011(10204 kB)2578 downloads
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