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ERIC Number: EJ765195
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Assessing Investigative Skills in History: A Case Study from Scotland
Hillis, Peter
History Teacher, v38 n3 p341-360 May 2005
Recent changes in the history syllabi stress the importance of developing an investigative/enquiry method of learning involving the framing of questions, subsequent research, and the presentation of findings. Scotland has made several attempts to assess not only the end result (the paper) but also the process itself and now uses an extended essay format in two important history courses that come at the end of secondary schooling. This article discusses how Scotland experimented before it decided on these various approaches to assessing investigative skills and evaluates the extended essay solution with particular reference to the comments of students and teachers. This analysis expands on a previous article on the assessment of investigative skills that appeared in this journal. The Scottish exemplar illustrates how the desirable and the practical often come into conflict in education. Investigative skills demand active involvement in working as a historian, forming an hypothesis, doing research, and presenting a conclusion. The assessment of coursework, however, raises important issues relating to authenticity, fairness and student workload that take on greater significance if it becomes a determinant of a student's final grade. It could be argued that Scotland has compromised between the desirable and the practical in devising a format which allows students to engage in research, but ensures that the resultant essay is produced under controlled conditions. The looser arrangements associated with the earlier investigation, with papers written outside of class, eroded confidence in the final grade. An assessment and examination system without public confidence has little value. (Contains 6 figures and 18 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)