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Greene, Stuart. “Students as Authors in the Study of History." In Teaching and Learning in History, edited by G. Leinhardt, I. L. Beck, and C. Stainton, 137-70. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1994.


Greene examines how fifteen American college-aged learners constructed meaning of previously learned historical events through two different writing tasks. The tasks, a report and a problem-based essay, required students to summarize information from their prior knowledge of six different source texts dealing with European history. Thus, respectively, students were asked to review information and to define a problem.

Overall, students found it more difficult to write a report than a problem-based essay. In contrast, three historians who were asked to do the same task were equally comfortable writing a report and a problem-based essay. Greene suggests that this difference was due to the fact that the college students lacked the necessary disciplinary knowledge to write a historical report. Thus, their answers revealed the different kinds of analytical and critical thinking skills that different writing tasks can foster. In conclusion, the author suggests that teachers provide students with opportunities to learn through varying writing tasks in order to encourage the development of different skills necessary for contributing to historical writing.

Ana Laura Pauchulo