Writing from Primary Documents: A Way of Knowing in History.

Published on Jan 1, 1998in Written Communication1.219
· DOI :10.1177/0741088398015001002
Kathleen McCarthy Young2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Pittsburgh),
Gaea Leinhardt36
Estimated H-index: 36
(University of Pittsburgh)
Developing academic literacy involves learning valued content and rhetoric in a discipline. Within history, writing from primary documents to construct an evidenced interpretation of an issue requires students to transform both background and document knowledge, read and interpret historical documents, and manage discourse synthesis. The authors examine the potential of the Advanced Placement Document-Based Question as constructed and presented by an exemplary teacher to engage students in historical reasoning and writing. The authors analyzed how five students responded to four document-based questions over a year, tracing how organization, document use, and citation language indicate the degree to which writers transformed and integrated information in disciplinary ways. Students moved from knowledge telling (listing period and document content as discrete information bits) to knowledge transformation (integrating content as interpreted evidence for an argument). Students had difficulty learning to hand...
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