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Treading Old Paths in New Ways: Upper Secondary Students Using a Digital Tool of the Professional Historian
Researcher HUMlab Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Professor Centre for Population Studies (CPS) Umeå University / 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 January 2013; in revised form: 8 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 February 2013 / Published: 11 March 2013
Abstract: This article presents problems and possibilities associated with incorporating into history teaching a digital demographic database made for professional historians. We detect and discuss the outcome of how students in Swedish upper secondary schools respond to a teaching approach involving digitized registers comprising 19th century individuals and populations. Even though our results demonstrate that students experience the use of this digital database as messy, stressful, complicated, even meaningless and frustrating, they also perceive working with it as most interesting. We discuss this twofold outcome, its reasons and lessons to learn from it. When technology is functioning and the task is specialized and sufficiently guided by the teacher, which is not always the case, our results propose that digital databases can stimulate young people’s interest and historical thinking. Knowledge construction based upon historical thinking is evident in the students’ examination papers in which they present and debate their findings. These papers indicate that students can use a digital database and write history based upon empirical evidence, source criticism and historical empathy, just as professional historians do.
Keywords: digital databases; history teaching; historical thinking; teachers; students; ICT
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Nygren, T.; Vikström, L. Treading Old Paths in New Ways: Upper Secondary Students Using a Digital Tool of the Professional Historian. Educ. Sci. 2013, 3, 50-73.
Nygren T, Vikström L. Treading Old Paths in New Ways: Upper Secondary Students Using a Digital Tool of the Professional Historian. Education Sciences. 2013; 3(1):50-73.
Nygren, Thomas; Vikström, Lotta. 2013. "Treading Old Paths in New Ways: Upper Secondary Students Using a Digital Tool of the Professional Historian." Educ. Sci. 3, no. 1: 50-73.