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Beck, I. L., and M.G. McKeown. “Outcomes of History Instruction: Paste–up Accounts.” In Cognitive and instructional processes in history and the social sciences, edited by J. F. Voss & M. Carretero, 237-56. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1994.


Beck and McKeown examine elementary school students’ learning of American history from texts such as commonly used history textbooks. The authors conducted a textbook analysis, examined fifth grade students’ background knowledge and their relative engagement with the texts, and analyzed interviews completed with twenty six of these students before fifth grade instruction and after eight grade instruction of American history.

Generally, the authors found that by eighth grade most of the information that students had learned in grade five had been forgotten or contaminated. However, after grade eight students seemed to have gained knowledge about the significant actors in history and the causes behind important conflicts that they did not have previously. Beck and McKeown conclude that the text books did not provide students with coherent accounts of history and that it is the teachers’ responsibility to fill in the missing information. Teachers must therefore draw from texts and resources other than the text book.

Ana Laura Pauchulo