History: Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization

Title: Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization
Authors: Gerald Iguchi, Patricia Stovey, and Julie Weiskopf; History Department, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline: History
Submission Date: February 12, 2014

Abstract: We approached this lesson study as a way to research how we as History Department faculty can better meet our goal of teaching students in freshmen world history courses (HIS 101 and HIS 102) how to comprehend, interpret, and express relationships between given texts or content on the one hand, and the contexts constructing and informing texts on the other. This is the learning outcome that we assess for General Education.  We often find it difficult to encourage students to engage texts in a such a way that they produce meaning instead of merely repeating information. Using Julie Weiskopf’s online (Fall) and hybrid (Spring) course as our laboratory, our first semester impression was that in order to meet the goal in question we need to primarily – nearly exclusively – focus on promoting students’ orientation towards interpretation or analysis of texts, which is contrary to their overwhelming tendency to merely summarize.  Our efforts were rewarded with better student writing during the second semester.  As a result of our lesson study, Gerry Iguchi, Pat Stovey, and Weiskopf have a better perspective regarding how to advance our students’ capacities to creatively and insightfully interpret rather than mechanically repeat information.  In short, we have learned that we need to say “don’t summarize, analyze.”  We have also learned that we need to focus on better explaining and modeling what analysis is.  We will share our insights and the results our our now increasingly inspired further experimentation towards these sends in course at the 100, 200, and 300-400 levels with the rest of the History Department.

Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization – Full Report