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Linda S. Levstik and Keith C. Barton. Researching History Education: Theory, Method and Context.

Linda S. Levstik and Keith C. Barton. Researching History Education: Theory, Method and Context. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pp. 440. Paper, $51.95; ISBN 978-0-8058-6271-3.

This volume presents a compendium of work by two outstanding social studies education researchers, Linda Levstik and Keith Barton. Its basis rests upon their previous work that has focused on how children and adolescents learn, develop, and apply historical thought and reasoning. The present book extends these efforts through the authors' discussions of the processes involved in their research as well as additional and updated material.

Much of the information noted here centers on the dissection of classroom research that analyzes the introduction of various historical and social studies instructional paradigms used in both elementary and high school classrooms and their effects on the development of both a child's and adolescent's historical thinking. These projects range from how children build a sense of time and chronology to perspectives of historical change. At the heart of these chapters is a continual concentration on the nature of how an historical thinking model might be constructed, used, and evaluated in elementary and secondary classrooms. This is done through developing an understanding of the context of young and adolescent learners and how they build a knowledge base that allows them to view history through a critical lens. The authors offer these thoughts by guiding the reader through a discussion of an idea, or issue, that each of the chapters will center on, providing a classroom example that leads to a research problem, and then concluding with an overview of experimental findings with concurrent analysis. Following these are summary thoughts that tie the chapters together along with an extensive bibliography.

These frameworks are initiated from both national and international perspectives. For example, one of the selected studies compares groups of young students in the United States and Northern Ireland in terms of their socio-cultural perception of historical change. Yet another talks about New Zealand high school students understanding of their national history. The use of interviews in gathering much of the data provides the reader with a framework from which one can begin to understand a child's historical understanding. These research constructs offer the reader a great insight into the developmental aspects of historical learning.

It is interesting to note that the authors do not limit their research techniques to a qualitative vein. Indeed, their research perspectives are wide ranging and present the reader with a variety of excellent classroom experiments.

While the audience of this book is clearly aimed at post secondary history and social studies education professionals, those teaching history at the elementary and high school levels will also greatly benefit from studying Levsitk and Barton's analysis of historical reasoning so that they might understand these applications and thus move towards improving their student's historical skills. These treatments provide a guideline to the higher level of critical thinking and reasoning skills needed by today's students to successfully understand historical frameworks and concepts.

Richard A. Diem

The University of Texas at San Antonio

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Author:Diem, Richard A.
Publication:Teaching History: A Journal of Methods
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2009
Previous Article:John Tosh. Why History Matters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Next Article:Nena Galanidou and Liv Helga Dommasnes, eds. Telling Children About the Past: An Interdisciplinary Perspective.

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