Cognitive and Instructional Processes in History and the Social Sciences

By Mario Carretero; James F. Voss | Go to book overview

14
(Re-)Constructing History and Moral judgment: On Relationships Between Interpretations of the Past and Perceptions of the Present
Bodo von Borries University of HamburgThere are comparatively few empirical studies of the processes of historical socialization in the Federal Republic of Germany. This in itself precludes an overview of the state of research. After some qualitative work using classroom protocols, autobiographies, and interviews (cf. Borries, 1988), a series of quantitative studies was conducted with four main aims: (a) to provide measures of the basic dimensions of historical consciousness (knowledge, attitudes, collective identity, etc.); (b) to trace the developmental logic of historical awareness; (c) to map the relationships among cognitive, motivational, moral, and affective constituents of historical learning; and (d) to explore correlations between interpretations of the past, perceptions of the present, and expectations of the future. The findings of a major study conducted in 1990, using closed-response questionnaires (N = 1,915 respondents from 6th-, 9th-, and 12th-grade classrooms, from both East and West Germany), is worth mentioning here ( Borries, 1992). Some of the more important findings were:
1. Cognitive, motivational, moral, and affective responses can be identified as representing four distinct dimensions; these can be measured with some degree of validity as separate traits.
2. Cognitive differences among students are closely associated with age, type of school, and scholastic achievement in history. Differences in moral judgments are linked to gender, party preference, and attitudes toward present-day issues. Motivational and emotional differences are almost completely independent of social background variables. Motivation and knowledge are almost completely uncorrelated.

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