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Where are they now? Update on the whereabouts of Lindsay S. Gibson

Posted by Lindsay Gibson
8 December 2015 - 2:11pm

Where are they now? The whereabouts of Lindsay S. Gibson

In June 2014 I completed my PhD at the University of British Columbia thanks to the exemplary support and mentorship provided by the members of my supervisory committee, Peter Seixas, Penney Clark and Kadriye Ercikan. My dissertation entitled “Understanding Ethical Judgments in Secondary School History Classes”[1] focused on history teachers‘ beliefs about ethical judgments in the discipline of history and history education, the factors that influence their beliefs, and the relationship between teachers' approaches to ethical issues, questions, and judgments and their students' approaches to ethical judgments.

I focused my dissertation research on ethical judgments for a number of reasons. Few history curriculum frameworks or conceptions of historical thinking except the 1996 U.S. National Standards for History in the Schools, the work of Barton and Levstik (2004) and the historical thinking framework outlined by Seixas (1996; Seixas & Peck, 2008; Seixas & Morton, 2013) for the Historical Thinking Project include an explicit focus on ethical judgments. Furthermore, the topic of ethical or moral judgments has garnered little attention from history educators. In a Delphi study that aimed to define core teaching practices in history, Fogo (2014) found that 26 expert history educators in the US and Canada did not include the ethical dimension of history, which focuses on, “how people judge the actions of historical actors and how historical interpretations reflect contemporary moral frames”, as a core teaching practice. Similarly, Seixas and Ercikan (2010) discovered that teachers ranked the ethical dimension as the least important of the six historical thinking concepts they were asked about, they taught about it the least, and included it on tests and assignments less often than the other concepts. Lastly, of the different second-order concepts identified by history education researchers, ethical judgment is the most controversial among historians, history educators, and teachers.

While completing my required coursework and comprehensive exams during the first two years of my PhD, I took a leave from a full-time job teaching senior social studies and history at Kelowna Secondary School. In my third year I returned part-time to my teaching job at Kelowna Secondary while also completing my dissertation proposal. In my fourth and fifth years of my PhD I was seconded as a part-time teacher on the Instructional Leadership Team in School District No. 23 (Central Okanagan) while I completed my data collection, data analysis, and wrote my dissertation. After completing my PhD, I continued to work part-time on the Instructional Leadership Team throughout the 2014-2015 school year, while also supervising six middle-school pre-service teachers as a Faculty Associate in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

Working as part of the School District No. 23 (Central Okanagan) Instructional Leadership Team for three years was a unique learning experience that has had an enormous impact on my understanding and knowledge of teaching, learning, and assessment. As part of the team I worked with five other teachers and a principal, and our mandate was to establish collaborative networks with groups of teachers in the 43 elementary, middle and secondary schools in our district to improve instruction and assessment. The three years on the Instructional Leadership Team provided me with a wide view of how instructional change is implemented in different elementary, middle and secondary schools in a school district. In October 2015, the School District No. 23 Instructional Leadership Team that I worked with for three years was awarded the $25,000 first prize in the Canadian Education Association’s 2015 Canadian Innovators in Education Award

During and after the completion of my PhD, I have had numerous opportunities to contribute to a variety of fascinating history education projects with organizations like The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2), The History Education Network/Histoire Éducation en Réseau (THEN/HiER), The Historical Thinking Project (HTP), the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), and Open Schools B.C. Each of these projects has expanded my knowledge and understanding of different topics in Canadian history (the colonial history of British Columbia, Japanese Canadian Internment, the Douglas Treaties, the Numbered Treaties, Chinese Canadian history, World War I Internment, and Residential Schools in B.C. to name a few), as well as how to design teaching, learning, and assessment resources that focus on historical thinking.[2] Beginning in July 2012 I have been part of a group of BC teachers who conceptualized and drafted the new K-12 BC social studies curriculum. The new BC curriculum is organized around subject specific social studies thinking competencies adapted from Seixas’ historical thinking framework, and the K-9 social studies curriculum ( will be implemented in the fall of 2016, and the 10-12 curriculum will be implemented in the fall of 2017. 

In the fall of 2014 I applied for my first tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Elementary Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. After interviewing in November, I was offered the position at the end of December 2015, and started working on July 1, 2015. Since starting at the University of Alberta, I have been concentrating on familiarizing myself with the Alberta social studies curriculum, and developing the elementary social studies methods course that I taught this fall, and will be teaching two more sections of in the winter semester. I have benefitted enormously from the wonderful guidance and support provided by Carla Peck, an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta who completed her PhD at UBC under the supervision of Peter Seixas and Penney Clark a year or two before I started my PhD. Carla has taught the elementary methods course numerous times, and has been exceedingly helpful in sharing her vast resources and knowledge, being a sounding board for my ideas, and helping me put my own stamp on the course. It is wonderful to work closely with a colleague who speaks the same social studies language, and Carla and I have already begun collaborating on a variety of projects including a large research grant proposal, and a potential teaching collaboration with the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta.

In K-12 education it is generally accepted that your first few years of teaching are the most difficult as you are new to the profession and are often given the most difficult teaching load. At the University of Alberta it has been the exact opposite. I have a reduced teaching load this year, which has provided me with the time and space needed to travel to conferences, complete various projects, and begin planning my research agenda that I will initiate over the upcoming years. Recently, I have been working on publishing several journal articles on ethical judgments in history education that are based on my dissertation research. In November I presented a session with Dr. Andrea Milligan and Dr. Carla Peck at the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) conference in New Orleans that is part of the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) annual conference. Our session focused on how disciplinary ethics can strengthen our understanding of ethical judgments in history, and we used the Jewish refugee crisis of the 1930s and the current Syrian refugee crisis as the backdrop to our study.

I have also applied for an internal University of Alberta research grant for conducting a pilot study that investigates whether the construction of visual source-based historical timelines in Canadian history improve the development of grade 10 students’ historical reference frameworks. Wood (1995) argues that the development of historical reference frameworks is crucial for helping students make sense of the chaos of the past, for understanding how events are related to each other, and for gauging the distance of past events from the present. I argue that one of the functions of school history is to provide students with a mental framework of the past that enables them to locate known and unknown events and phenomena in time, to identify historical time periods and organize them chronologically, to name events and phenomena in the different time periods, and to be aware of and recognize the characteristics of different time periods. I am aiming to collect the research for this pilot study in the spring and fall of 2016.

My graduate work in history education has opened the doors to opportunities that I could not have imagined when I first started teaching secondary school in 1999. I have received mentorship and guidance from some of the best scholars in their respective fields. I have travelled throughout North America and Europe to attend conferences, give presentations, and establish collaborative networks and relationships with history educators from around the world. I have worked on collaborative teams to design and implement social studies and history curriculum and resources. I have worked closely with pre and in-service teachers and their students to improve teaching, learning and assessment. Best of all, I have had the freedom to pursue research questions and interests that I will continue to explore throughout my career. Given my past experiences, I cannot imagine what the next thirty plus years will bring, but I look forward to the endless possibilities.     







[1] To access an open source copy of my dissertation click on this link:

[2] List of history education projects I have contributed to since 2008: For TC2 I created historical thinking lessons and teaching resources for a variety of projects including the Governor’s Letters (, History Docs (, Chinese Canadian Stories (, Ukrainian Canadians and First World War Internment (, Recognizing an Historic Injustice: Canada's First National Internment Operations, 1914-1920, Take 2 Videos that introduce each of the six historical thinking concepts in the context of an actual historical situation (, and I recently completed an Inquiry Pac for Ontario Grade 8B history ( For THEN/HiER I compiled websites and links to resources designed to help teachers teach history more effectively ( as well as a webpage of online archives, websites and databases of primary sources designed to help student-teachers, teachers, social studies educators and historians locate significant online collections of primary sources for a wide range of topics in Canadian history ( For FNESC I reviewed the Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Learning Resources for Senior Secondary, Social Studies 10, and Social Studies 5 (, and offered suggestions on embedding historical thinking and critical thinking into the resource. For Open Schools BC I worked with a team of teachers to design learning resources and curriculum for the Bamboo Shoots: Chinese Canadian Legacies in BC resource ( for Grade 5 and Grade 10 students.