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ERIC Number: ED536133
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 131
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2670-2424-4
Connecting the Past to the Present: Student Meaning Making in a Middle School World History Classroom
Anderson, Michelle R.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
This descriptive study investigates the ways that students in an Ancient History class make meaning of past events by relating them to their present lives and experiences. The study is grounded in theories of historical thinking, particularly focusing on the concepts of presentism and its usefulness for examining classroom teaching. The following two research questions guided the study: 1) How do students make connections between the past and present? 2) When given the opportunity in writing and discussion, in what ways are students engaging with distant events in the past? The research site was a middle school in a medium-sized city located in the Midwest. Data was collected in the Fall of 2010 over the course of eight weeks during two units of study (Ancient Civilizations Review and Ancient Greece). The following data sources were collected: five audio-recorded classroom discussions and other instruction, twelve interviews with students and student assignments and journal entries. The analysis revealed two categories of the students' thinking about the relevance of past events: (1) conflating the past with the present and the challenge of presentism, and (2) translating and adapting the past to the present. The data showed that some students viewed history from a presentist perspective that did not distinguish sufficiently between time periods. However, many students also applied lessons from the past to their own lives by associating historical ideas and themes to their individual experiences, which was especially evident in the discussions. Students tended to make sense of history by assigning meaning to the concepts they were studying in a personal manner and by finding similarities between the past and present. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Junior High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A