HistoricLee Relevant

An Education in History Education

Category Archives: research

My Small Contribution to Digital Humanities

I just finished reading Stephen Ramsey‘s post “On Building,” and I began to think about how I plan to “build” in the field of history education.

First, blogging strikes me as a positive first step in building for the digital humanities.  If done regularly and well, it requires a rudimentary knowledge of backend administration (or at least the willingness to putz around to figure it out), and it teaches a person how code tags work.

Blogging: check.

Second, in the last four years, I have become increasingly fascinated with the statistical correlations between AP exam scores and other data.  A major study in Texas suggested that even a “failing” grade of a 2 on one AP exam correlates with a significant increase in college graduation rates.  I have used this study to highlight over and over again, to both students and parents (and even to other teachers and administrators), the work ethic that AP tends to foster in students.  After hearing the results of this study for the first time (and because of National Board’s emphasis on student data collection and analysis), I began collecting data on all my AP students.  After three years, I began to notice statistically significant correlations between midterm multiple choice score and AP exam scores, and this allowed me to zero in on students in the “danger zone,” helping them with their shore up their knowledge of a certain historical period or practice a specific skill necessary to pass the AP exam.  I would like to continue this work (somehow) in my PhD program, and Ramsey’s post further confirms my notion that this should not be an outlier behavior amongst history educators.

Data mining: check.

Now, I just need to learn how to code…

Boldly going where no one has gone before…

In light of Matt Might‘s Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D., I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to push that circle out just a little bit farther in history education. Right now, lots of wonderful people are doing work in my areas of interest, like:

History Education
1. How to teach history
2. How to learn history
3. How the brain understands/constructs historical knowledge, thinks historically
4. History education as an object (of critique, of praise, etc.)
5. Lesson plans

History Education Technology
1. Creating new tools
2. Using existing tools
3. Creating new resources
4. Using existing resources

(Of course, this list is incomplete, but you get the idea.)

How do I either 1) push the boundary of the circle in one of the above areas or 2) explore an area not even listed above or conceived by those much more well-versed in this area than I? Most research (in any area) falls under the category of “expands upon or elaborates on existing knowledge/theory.” Chances are, that’s what I’ll be doing in grad school.  Nevertheless, what areas lie just outside of our reach in history education and history education technology? And, more importantly, how do we get to the place that will allow us to explore those unknown lands?  I don’t know yet, but I’ll keep pushing.

Thanks, Matt.