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TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > TPS Quarterly > Research and Current Thinking

For each issue, TPS partners submit summaries of and links to online resources—articles, research reports, Web sites, and white papers—that provide research and current thinking relating to the theme. This issue's Research & Current Thinking focuses on technology integration.


Evaluating Alignment of Technology and Primary Source Use Within a History Classroom Kathleen Swan & David Locascio, 2008
Many researchers in the social studies have encouraged the use of primary sources in history classrooms as a support for historical inquiry. Swan and Locascio note that, “Although primary sources have become accessible via the Internet, simply using digital primary sources, does not automatically translate into historical thinking or technology best practice. Consequently, an evaluation matrix was constructed for one study to gauge the fidelity of primary source use according to three domains, curriculum content, instructional processes, and student products or outcomes. In this article, the researchers provide background information on the development of the evaluation matrix, present the instrument, and evaluate its effectiveness in categorizing both primary source and technology usage.”

Research: Fostering Historical Thinking with Digitized Primary Sources Bill Tally & Lauren Goldenberg, Education Development Center (EDC), 2005
This pilot study examined middle school and high school student performance on an online historical thinking assessment task. After their teachers received training in the use of digital historical archives, students from all groups engaged in historical thinking behaviors in response to an open-ended document analysis exercise. The study describes types of thinking they did, and discusses differences between AP-level and non-AP students. Challenges teachers face in developing students’ historical thinking around visual documents are also discussed.

Pursuing E-Opportunities in the History Classroom Mark Tebeau in “Textbooks & Teaching: Journal of American History,” 2003
This article examines the promises and challenges inherent in using materials available on the Internet for teaching American history, particularly digitized primary sources. Tebeau discusses how information technology has “transformed how and when our students learn” and how teachers can “reorient our pedagogy to develop in our students an ability not just to read but also to do history.” He states that e-opportunities facilitate active learning, which draws students “more fully into the process of historical reasoning and critical thinking.” Although the article focuses on higher education, the ideas presented are equally applicable in the K-12 setting.

Social Studies Learning Activity Types
This resource presents three sets of activity types (knowledge building, convergent knowledge expression, and divergent knowledge expression) and provides suggestions for compatible technologies that may be used to support each type of learning activity.

Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis? University of California - Los Angeles (2009, January 29)
This article from Science Daily reports on a study concerning how technology alters students' learning. According to the study, computers, video games and multitasking may have helped improve people's visual skills, but they also appear to have contributed to the erosion of critical-thinking and analysis skills. Reading, however, develops the imagination as well as deductive, reflection and critical-thinking skills, said researcher and UCLA psychology professor Patricia Greenfield, who also directs the Children's Digital Media Center of Los Angeles. "No one medium is good for everything," she said. "If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet."

At School, Technology Starts to Turn a Corner New York Times, August 16, 2008
This feature story from the New York Times advances the benefits to authentic learning that can be derived from using new technologies in the classroom. The article focuses on project learning through technology, arguing that it “encourages active learning and produces better performance in class and on standardized tests. The educational bottom line, it seems, is that while computer technology has matured and become more affordable, the most significant development has been a deeper understanding of how to use the technology.” As one administrator observes, “advances in computing, combined with improved understanding of how to tailor the technology to different students, can help transform education.”

Internet Explorers: Virtual Field Trips Are More Than Just Money Savers Kara Platoni, Edutopia Online, 2008
Discover how online adventures – virtual field trips – have evolved from entertainment to instructionally sound tools that merge “highly interactive Web sites with engaging storytelling, vibrant art, and curricula tied to national standards”. This article spotlights four online adventures, including the National Geographic Society’s Lewis & Clark web site.

Congress Launches the First National Research Program Focused on Technology and Learning Press Release, 8/18/2008
Congress has authorized a new federal research center, The National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, that will be charged with helping to develop innovative ways to use digital technology at schools and in universities. The center will support research and development of new education technologies, including internet-based technologies. It will also help adapt techniques already widely used in other sectors, such as advertising and the military, to classroom instruction. According to Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, “For the first time education research will benefit from the kinds of creative research management that has been so effective in driving innovation in other parts of the economy. It will be able to focus research talent across the nation – in many fields and many institutions – on one of the nation’s most pressing problems.”

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