|Title||READING LIKE A HISTORIAN: A DOCUMENT-BASED HISTORY CURRICULUM INTERVENTION IN URBAN HIGH SCHOOLS|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
Enthusiasm about the instructional potential of primary sources dates to the late 19th century and has been echoed recently in the work of literacy experts, historians, and educational psychologists. Yet, no extended intervention study has been undertaken to test the effectiveness of primary source instruction in real history classrooms. This study, with 236 eleventh-grade students in five San Francisco high schools, represented the first extended curriculum intervention in disciplinary reading in an urban district. The Reading Like a Historian (RLH) curriculum constituted a radical departure from traditional textbook-driven instruction by using a new activity structure, the “Document-Based Lesson,” in which students used background knowledge to interrogate, and then reconcile, historical accounts from multiple texts. A quasi-experiment control design measured the effects of a six-month intervention on four dimensions: 1) students’ historical thinking; 2) their ability to transfer historical thinking strategies to contemporary issues; 3) their mastery of factual knowledge; and 4) their growth in general reading comprehension. MANCOVA analysis yielded significant main effects for the treatment condition on all four outcome measures. This study has implications both for adolescent literacy instruction and history teaching at the middle and high school levels.