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Peck, Carla L. "It's Not Like [I'm] Chinese and Canadian. I am In-between: Ethnicity and Students' Conceptions of Historical Significance.” Theory & Research in Social Education 38(4) (2010): 574-617.


This article explores the relationship between students' ethnic identities and their ascriptions of historical significance to moments in Canada's past. Twenty-six grade 12 students living in an ethnically diverse urban centre in British Columbia, Canada participated. Phenomenographic research methods were followed, with a range of data informing the findings. In groups, students completed a "picture-selection task" during which they were asked to make decisions about the historical significance of particular events and themes in Canadian history. Students were asked to describe their ethnic identity and then reflect on the ways in which their ethnic identity may have influenced the decisions they made during the picture-selection task. Analysis determined that students employed five types of historical significance and three narrative templates to construct the history of Canada. Students used specific types of historical significance depending on the narrative(s) they used. The students' ethnic identities played a central role in determining which narrative template(s) they employed and the criteria they used to select the events for their narratives. Many students articulated complicated notions of their identities, with some perceiving that particular "sides" of their identity were at play, or in use, during the research task. Students were able to engage in metacognitive thinking because of a research design that pushed them to articulate their beliefs about the relationship between identity (self-ascribed) and the narrative they constructed. Implications for teaching and further research are explored.


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