ERIC Number: ED390030
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995
Reference Count: N/A
What Happens When Students Read Multiple Source Documents in History? Reading Research Report No. 45.
Stahl, Steven A.; And Others
Some educators (Ravitch, 1990) have suggested that students use multiple source documents to study history. Such documents could be primary sources, such as Congressional bills or eyewitness accounts, or secondary sources, such as later commentaries. This study examined the processes used when 19 tenth-grade high school students were presented source documents about a controversial incident in U.S. history, the Tonkin Gulf Incident and its aftermath, and asked to read these texts, either to describe the incident or the Senate action on the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, or develop an opinion about the incident or resolution. Results indicated that students did gain in the consistency of their mental models after reading at least two documents, but did not make any further gains after that. When compared to lay experts, they failed to make any growth after a first reading. Examination of their notes also indicated that students tended to take literal notes, regardless of the final task. Findings suggest that the students were using the initial readings to garner the facts about the incident or the resolution. If students were asked for a description, they tended to stay close to the text. If asked for an opinion, however, they tended to ignore the information in the texts they read, even though they may have taken copious notes. Findings also suggest that high school students may not be able to profit from multiple texts, especially those presenting conflicting opinions, without some additional instruction. (Contains 32 references, 2 notes, 5 tables, and 2 figures of data. An appendix of data is attached.) (Author/RS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Reading Research Center, Athens, GA.; National Reading Research Center, College Park, MD.