Teaching HistoriographyDebating Divergent Interpretations in an Introductory History Course

It can be a challenge to teach students in an introductory level classroom, whether in high school or college, to grapple with conflicting opinions that are not their own. Many students willingly engage in debate and discussion when it involves their own opinions, but have a much harder time specifically identifying and explaining disagreement in the scholarship they encounter in class.

This practical panel aims to help teachers and their students to grapple with scholarly interpretations in a workshop setting. The workshop will start from a guiding question: To what extent are human actions determined by environmental factors?

The presenters will be Sharon Cohen, Springbrook High School, Silver Spring, MD, an experienced teacher-trainer, AP history workshop facilitator, and member of the AP World History test development committee; and Laura Mitchell, University of California, Irvine, the co-chair of the AP World History test development committee and co-author of Panorama: A World History (McGraw-Hill, 2014).

This workshop will directly address the historical thinking skill defined as “interpretation” in the revised Advanced Placement curriculum for all three history subjects (US, European, and world), though the skill is relevant for any history course. Our presentation will explicitly address needs for AP classrooms, strategies for developing this skill in on-grade-level high school classes, and in high-enrollment college survey courses. Questions and contributions from the audience will shape the extent to which any one of these teaching arenas receives extended discussion.

This wiki consists of this introductory page, a workshop agenda, a bibliography, explicit connections to the AP World History Course and Exam Description, and copies of materials we will hand out at the workshop. We invite you to browse through the pages, add comments, and share your own teaching resources.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the College Board and the World History Association.

2014 AHA Meeting | Sharon Cohen and Laura J. Mitchell