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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)
Abstract
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interpretation of an issue requires students to transform both background and document knowledge, read and interpret historical documents, and manage discourse synthesis.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...
  • References (24)
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Historians are extraordinary, rather than typical, readers who routinely engage in the self-conscious, directed reading and rereading of historical documents, moving iteratively between documents and their own historical theories about an issue. This study was designed to compare the reading practices of historians reading highly familiar privileged texts with those reading familial but unfamiliar texts, and to determine when and how historians use general historical knowledge versus topic-speci...
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Both research in the field of writing and writing pedagogy have been built to a large extent on the premise that, as a fundamental discourse process, writing has critical connections to speaking. What those connections are has been debated by both researchers and teachers. This article reviews writing research that implicates writing-speaking relationships by constructing two contrasting positions for organizing the research and understanding the relationships: (a) that writing differs from spea...
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Writing has often been characterized as having special powers as a tool for promoting learning, as evidenced by the belief that "writing across the curriculum" should be established as a means of promoting thinking in all disciplines, even those in which a written product is not historically valued or useful. Theory and research in semiotics and multiple intelligences provide the foundation for an alternative view supporting the notion of composing across the curriculum, with a "composition" ref...
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Student writing in history courses, graded evaluation of that writing, and faculty interviews all reveal a contradiction between the stated and implicit aims of historical discourse. The explicit definition of writing in history is “argumentation”; the implicit expectation, however, is for narrative. This apparent contradiction highlights what the author argues is the central function of academic historical discourse: the establishment of an autonomous subject of meaning who is always speaking f...
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Recent Surveys indicate that writing-in-the-disciplines programs have been established or projected by more than one-third of the colleges and universities in the United States. The fourteen essays in this volume chart the history of this interdisciplinary development in both the United States and Great Britain and examine the wide range of forms that writing-in-the-disciplines programs have taken in American higher education. The collection outlines the social, intellectual, and political force...
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#1Gaea LeinhardtH-Index: 36
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This essay situates the phenomenon of writing and learning in historical, pedagogical, and theoretical frameworks to isolate write-to-learn methods derived from the “British model” of language and learning. Writing as a mode of learning has maintained its status partly because of the rise of rhetoric and composition as a specialized field and because cross-curricular writing instruction has been offered as one answer to alleged “crises” of literate standards and competence in public and higher e...
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This paper contributes to a growing body of research on the study of classroom learning and instruction in specific subject matter areas. It addresses the broad issue of the nature of and occasions for instructional explanations in history. Based on a study that traced the classroom instruction of one exemplary US history teacher for an entire semester, the paper presents a typology of instructional explanations in this discipline. Analysis of the lessons shows how the teacher uses each type of ...
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