Cognitive and Instructional Processes in History and the Social Sciences

By Mario Carretero; James F. Voss | Go to book overview
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abounds with data and transformations compared with the more stringent physical explanation. Thus, we seem to be facing the same sort of paradox even here; in order to understand the facts constituting the explanation of an event, one has to understand the explanation that was supposed to be constituted by these same facts.

At the outset of this chapter, it was said that it is difficult for a teacher to formulate the learning task in history and for the students to understand what they are supposed to learn. The examples then discussed can be characterized as linear and piecemeal constructions of historical courses of events. It seems reasonable to claim that the difficulties encountered by the students in these examples are due to this linearity in the construction of the learning task. If the discussion here is correct, learning history is the construction of a learning task through the building up of a specific narrative out of evidence interpreted in the context of this narrative. A reasonable conclusion is that this cannot be done by means of a piecemeal, linear construction, but rather has to be done at different levels. The purpose of instruction, then, would be to highlight different interpretations of evidence as well as different types of narratives, but first and foremost, to retain and emphasize the characteristics of the specific narrative that is under construction and to continuously relate this narrative to the facts brought to the forefront.


Atkinson R. F. ( 1986). Knowledge and explanation in history. London: Macmillan.

Caravita S., & Halldén O. ( 1994). "Re-framing the problem of conceptual change". Learning and Instruction, 4, 89-111.

Edwards A. D.( 1986). The 'language of history' and the communication of historical knowledge. In A. K. Dickinson & P. J. Lee (Eds.), History teaching and historical understanding (pp. 54-71). London: Heineman.

Halldén O. ( 1986). "Learning history". Oxford Review of Education, 12, 53-66.

Halldén O. ( 1988). "Alternative frameworks and the concept of task. Cognitive constraints in pupils' interpretations of teachers' assignments". Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 32, 123-140.

Halldén O. ( 1990). Questions asked in common sense contexts and in scientific contexts. In P. L. Lijnse, P. Licht, W. de Vos, & A. J. Waarlo (Eds.), Relating macroscopic phenomena to microscopic particles (pp. 119-130). Utrecht: CD-B Press.

Halldén O. ( 1991, August). Conceptual change, conceptual rigidity or different domains of understanding. Paper presented at the 4th Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Turku.

Halldén O. ( 1994). On the paradox of understanding history in an educational setting. In G.Leinhardt & I.Beck (Eds.), Learning and teaching history (pp. 27-46). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Johansson M. ( 1981). Ämnesanalyser i historia och samhällskunskap für gymnasieutredningen [Subject analysis of history and social science undertaken for the survey of the


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