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History SOTL – An Annotated Bibliography

August 30, 2012

Decorative Element

History SOTL Introduction

Pace, D. (2004). The Amateur in the Operating Room: History and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The American Historical Review, 109(4), 1171-1192.

Is there a gulf between our disciplinary knowledge and our knowledge of teaching and learning? David Pace think so, and argues for the scholarship of teaching and learning history to be taken more seriously.

Kornblith, G. J., & Lasser, C. (2006). Beyond Best Practices: Taking Seriously the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The Journal of American History, 92(4), 1356 – 1357.

An excellent introductory piece on history SOTL. Why should we care about teaching and learning? Their important point is that “we [must] consider our goals before we turn to evaluating our methods”.

Kornblith, G., & Lasser, C. (2001). Teaching the American History Survey at the Opening of the Twenty-First Century: A Round Table Discussion. The Journal of American History, 87(4), 1409 – 1441.

This is a very interesting symposium on general teaching philosophy between a number of significant scholars. What are the aims of their teaching? How do they negotiate the different backgrounds and abilities of students? What is history teaching for, and what do they expect their students to gain from their studies?

Syllabus Design

Calder, L. (2006). Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey. The Journal of American History, 92(4), 1358 – 1370.

Calder argues that we have got the teaching of history backwards. Rather than starting with broad, fact-riddled survey courses in junior years, followed by theoretical courses in senior years, we should begin first-year courses by teaching students how to think historically.

Kars, M. (1997). History in a Grain of Sand: Teaching the Historian’s Craft. The Journal of American History, 83(4), 1340 – 1345.

A nice description of a course which uses a diverse range of micro-histories (The Cheese and the Worm, The Return of Martin Guerre, and more) to engage students with historical thinking and the boundaries between history and fiction.

Mercantini, J. (2008). How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Survey. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 33(1), 12-19.

A spirited defence of the importance of survey courses in fostering a love of history amongst junior students. Also includes some interesting student peer-review exercises.

Roff, S. (2007). Archives, Documents, and Hidden History: A Course to Teach Undergraduates the Thrill of Historical Discovery Real and Virtual. The History Teacher, 40(4), 551-558.

Roff discusses her history course, which aims to teach undergraduates the joys and techniques of library and archival research.

Young, K. M., & Leinhardt, G. (1998). Writing from Primary Documents: A Way of Knowing in History. Written Communication, 15(1), 25-68.

Young and Leinhardt have some really fascinating ways of phrasing their written assessments to draw out historical thinking amongst their students. The assessment questions they pose are much more detailed that what I am been used to, and seem particularly successful.

Seminars and Tutorials

Frederick, P. J. (October 1993). Motivating Students by Active Learning in the History Classroom. Perspectives, 15 – 19.

It’s old, and you’ve probably seen them all, but this is a nice outline of some strategies to breathe life into seminars and tutorials: brainstorming, questions, small groups, debates and role-playing, mixed media, and so forth.

van Boxtel, C., & van Drie, J. (2011). ‘In Essence I’m Only Reflecting’: Teacher Strategies For Fostering Historical Reasoning In Whole Class Discussions. International Journal of Historical Learning, Teaching and Research, 10(1), 55-66.

Though this article generally focuses upon secondary students, there is some useful stuff about the role of teacher power and authority in group historical discussions.

Pace, D. (Spring 2003). Controlled Fission: Teaching Supercharged Subjects. College Teaching, 51(2), 42-45.

What do you do when a controversial event in the past shuts down historical thinking and draws students towards vitriol and invective? Pace suggests some (course-wide) correctives to these situations.

Middendorf, J. Learning Students Names Retrieved 30th August, 2012, from

Some well-known (and lesser known) historians share their strategies for learning the names of their students.


Heitzmann, R. (2009). Ten Commandments for Enhancing Lecturing in History. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 34(2), 70-79.

In summary: start with a “grabber”; be interactive; don’t rehearse the textbook; be up to date; use humour; make it human; respect the audience; be interdisciplinary; motive, challenge and inspire; preview the next lecture.

Maxwell, A. (2007). Ban the Bullet-Point! Content-Based PowerPoint for Historians. The History Teacher, 41(1), 39-54.

A really great article warning against using PowerPoint slides which are simply summaries of the lecture content. Instead we should be doing “MTV history,” engaging listeners by providing multiple points of interest (such as primary sources) which enable people to engage in “academic multitasking”.

Coventry, M., Felten, P., Jaffee, D., O’Leary, C., Weis, T., & McGowan, S. (2006). Ways of Seeing: Evidence and Learning in the History Classroom. The Journal of American History, 92(4), 1371 – 1402.

A broad symposium on the pedagogical use of images, these papers provide some interesting insights on the effective employment of PowerPoint slides and other visual media while teaching.

Evans, E. (April 2007). Rethinking and Improving Lecturing in History. The Higher Education Academy: Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology.

A commissioned report from four universities in northern England, this (slightly dry) paper is written in response to concerns that lectures comprise an outmoded “sage on the stage” format that fails to engage students or encourage learning. Results included: students valued lectures very highly; non-compulsory lectures (as opposed to seminars) creates an impression that they are devalued; students liked broad-brush, contextual expositions in lectures; students value visual and oral aids more highly than most of their lecturers; “‘mere’ reading-out of lectures” is considered dull and disengaging.

Developing Historical Thought and Understanding

van Drie, J., & van Boxtel, C. (2007). Historical Reasoning: Towards a Framework for Analyzing Students’ Reasoning about the Past. Educational Psychology Review, 20(2), 87-110.

What is historical reasoning, and how can we encourage it amongst students?

Bain, R. B. (2000). Into the Breach: Using Research and Theory to Shape History Instruction. In P. N. Stearns, P. Seixas & S. Weinburg (Eds.), Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History: National and International Perspectives (pp. 331 – 352). New York: New York University Press.

Bain makes a strong case for instilling students with an understanding of historical practice by beginning his syllabi with a “minicourse on the nature of historical knowledge, designed to construct a different, more complex view of… the discipline.”

Jones, R. D. (2007). Building Historical Thinking Skills in the U.S. Survey. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 32(2), 80-91.

Some interesting stuff on page 82 about why historians study the past (“in order to understand what the past means). With that in mind, Jones then discusses strategies for helping students move from “‘what happened’ to ‘why did this happen, from… ”the what’ to ‘the so-what'”.

Using Primary Sources

McKenzie, B. (2005). Simulations, Sources, and the History Survey Course: Making the Internet Matter. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 30(2), 82-90.

McKenzie outlines some fun approaches to utilising digitised sources, including a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for the Roman civil war, and a mock trial for Napoleon I.

Anderson, C., Day, K., Michie, R., & Rollason, D. (2006). Engaging with Historical Source Work: Practices, Pedagogy, Dialogue. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 5(3), 243-263.

A fairly dense and theoretical outline of several strategies to engage students with primary source material, and some techniques to help them decode and interpret the texts they are reading.

Krause, M. G. (2010). ‘It Makes History Alive for them’: the Role of Archivists and Special Collections Librarians in Instructing Undergraduates. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(5), 401-411.

Based on interviews with several experienced archivists, this article has some thoughtful discussions regarding the potential pitfalls of using archival material with undergraduate students.

Using the Internet

Kelly, T. M. (2000). For Better or Worse? The Marriage of the Web and Classroom.

A now slightly outdated discussion of whether websites are useful for history courses. Conclusion: they are.

Kornblith, G. J. (1998). ‘Dynamic Syllabi for Dummies’: Posting Class Assignments on the World Wide Web. The Journal of American History, 84(4), 1447 – 1453.

Nothing super-radical here. What was a cutting-edge discussion in 1998 is now a slightly quaint discussion of putting a course outline online. Still, many of the major points remain true in the Web 2.0 world.

Schrum, K. (2001). Making History on the Web Matter in Your Classroom. The History Teacher, 34(3), 327-337.

An outline of some (American) web-resources, and a useful contextual discussion of how digital databases of primary material might be used in teaching.


Berk, R. A. (2005). Survey of 12 Strategies to Measure Teaching Effectiveness. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(1), 48-62.

Outlining a whole host of different teaching evaluation strategies, Berk ultimately concludes that a range of approaches should be taken to accurately assess teaching, and suggests (as does Brookfield) a minimum “triangulation” of student, peer, and self assessment. He also provides some nice hints on teaching portfolios towards the end of the article.

Pulich, M. A. (1984). Better Use of Student Evaluations for Teaching Effectiveness. Improving College Teaching and Learning, 32(2), 91-94.

Pulich marvels at the disjuncture between student perceptions of teaching evaluations and “formal performance reviews”, suggesting some strategies for designing useful student evaluations (tailor evaluation forms to class-needs; word statements carefully; train students to evaluate performance; allow enough time; allow freedom to evaluate; and- controversially- eliminate student anonymity).

Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning. (1997). Using Student Evaluations to Improve Teaching. Speaking of Teaching: Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, 9(1), 1-4.

A good general introduction to student feedback and assessments, and what to do with them.

Emery, C. R., Kramer, T. R., & Tian, R. G. (2003). Return to Academic Standards: A Critique of Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(1), 37-46.

The other side of the story. Are student teaching evaluations useful or informative?

The CV

Coppola, B. P. (2002). Writing A Statement of Teaching Philosophy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 31(7), 448 – 453.

A nice guide to writing the dreaded Statement of Teaching Philosophy, but also a worthwhile read for simply thinking through your own approach to teaching.

Faculty Focus Special Report. (May 2009). Philosophy of Teaching Statements: Examples and Tips on How to Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement.

A very comprehensive guide on putting these statements together, including some great examples of teaching philosophies.

Montell, G. (2003, 27th March). How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Another good guide on writing these statements.

Seldin, P. (1991). The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Descisions. Bolton, M.A.: Anker Pub. Co.

The comprehensive guide to an academic teaching portfolio.

Further Resources

There are countless further resources available on the internet (LMGTFY).

Recommended are:

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in History

Course outline from David Pace’s teaching history course:

University of Warwick elibrary’s bibliography of history SoTL:

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