ERIC Number: ED340649
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Jun
What Do Entering Fifth Graders Know about American History? Elementary Subjects Center Series No. 37.
Brophy, Jere; And Others
In most elementary schools in the United States, students get their first systematic introduction to history as a discipline and to chronological treatment of U.S. history as subject matter in fifth-grade U.S. history courses. To develop information about the knowledge and misconceptions concerning U.S. history that fifth-grade teachers can expect to see in their incoming students, the study interviewed students who were nearing completion of the fourth grade about U.S. history topics that they would be taught in the fifth grade. The students' responses revealed that they possessed generally accurate knowledge about history and the work of historians or about the founding and development of the United States as a nation. They had picked up bits and pieces of information in holiday or state history units in earlier grades or through reading, television, or other out-of-school experiences, but these were not yet subsumed within a systematic network of knowledge. Furthermore, accurate information items often were connected in the students' minds with various types of inaccurate beliefs (naive misconceptions, conflations, and imaginative elaborations). The students' answers to 23 questions are described and illustrated through excerpts from their interview responses, and these findings then are discussed with emphasis on their implications for establishing a context for learning U.S. history and developing certain key ideas so as to promote understanding and clear up misconceptions. (Author/DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Elementary Subjects, East Lansing, MI.