State of the Art - an Investigation into How Students in UK Secondary Schools Experience Visual Historical Evidence, and How They Might be Used More Effectively.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Simon THOMPSON, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Tom HAWARD, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Despite a widespread use of visual historical evidence in secondary school History classrooms across England and the emergence of practitioner informed research (Jaffee, 2006; Card, 2006 & 2011; and Eilam & Ben-Peretz, 2010), there is a sense that its use is used mainly illustratively and not interrogated or given the credence to the extent that more textual sources are. This reflects influences from institutions such as the academic community and UK exam boards, though there is evidence that in the last few decades, with the growth of subjects such as media studies and visual studies, this has started to change in some quarters. As experienced teachers of History and teacher educators, we have been interested in examining ways in which visual historical evidence is experienced in the secondary classroom, and what constitutes meaningful learning from their use.

We argue that the way students experience visual historical evidence holds pronounced differences and similarities with the ways in which textual sources are experienced, is an experience which is highly problematic, and that both teachers and students need to be aware of this and understand the issues involved as a first step to developing meaningful learning experiences. We also posit that the interpretation of visual historical evidence is a process that reveals much about the way students understand and make sense of the world, and which can be used to help develop a student-led construction of knowledge that incorporates a critical-analytical approach.

This presentation will therefore both share and discuss the findings of a pilot study conducted in 2014 and some of the initial findings of a larger-scale action research project currently being undertaken.