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Dickinson, A. K., and P.J. Lee. “Making Sense of History.” In Learning History, edited by A. K. Dickinson, P. J. Lee, and P. J. Rogers, 117-53. London: Heinemann, 1984.


This study examines how elementary and high school students make sense of people’s seemingly strange actions in the past. The authors grouped students together and video recorded their discussions in which they worked together to respond to a question posed by one of the authors. The transcripts of these video recordings allowed the authors to see in detail students’ initial reactions to the behaviour of those in the past that they perceived as strange, and the strategies they employed to sort out the meaning of this behaviour.

Generally, Dickinson and Lee found that teaching methods influence students’ strategies used to understand aspects of the past which they view as confusing. The central point for teaching is that understanding does not happen suddenly but rather is a process which teachers can help develop. Thus, the authors suggest that teachers refrain from representing themselves as “experts” and provide students with information about where to find resources to conduct their own research in their own time.

Ana Laura Pauchulo