Library of Congress

TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > 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.

Research: Improving Critical Thinking Skills in History Carl Savich, Oakland University, April 2008
“The purpose of this action research project was to investigate approaches and techniques that would improve critical thinking skills in history classes at the secondary level. The research methodology consisted in a comparison of the inquiry or interactive method of teaching history with the lecture method. The research results demonstrated that when critical thinking skills were emphasized under the inquiry method, students achieved higher scores on tests, quizzes, and assignments and gained a deeper and more meaningful understanding of history. Critical thinking skills were shown to be effective in achieving a more in-depth and meaningful understanding of history by high school students, but relied on the integration of the critical thinking skills with subject content and on student motivation.”

Historical Inquiry with Fifth Graders: An Action Research Study Theresa M. McCormick, Auburn University
Social Studies Research & Practice, Volume 3, Number 2, July 2008
“This article describes an action research investigation in which the author examined the effects that a six-week, historical, inquiry based unit on the American Revolution had on 119 fifth-graders’ interest in studying history. Results suggest that the historical, inquiry-based unit positively influenced students’ motivation and interest to study history both in and outside the classroom. Based on the findings of this study, instructional strategies that piqued students’ own questions and interests appeared to be the key to facilitating their motivation to learn history.”

Using Inquiry to Teach Social Studies Diane E. Newby, Ed.D. & Peter L. Higgs, Ph.D., Central Michigan University
The Charter Schools Resource Journal, Volume 1 No. 1, Winter 2005
The authors describe this paper as an attempt to “…present viable, inquiry methods for teaching K-8 social studies.” In the authors’ search for best practices in social studies instruction, they identified programs and models having the four major teaching and learning standards established by the National Council for the Social Studies (2000). The authors provide examples in which teachers provide opportunities for students to participate in inquiry processes; engage in collaborative, substantive, and reflective discussions; use cooperative learning structures, speak their minds, listen respectfully to the contributions of others, and engage in problem-solving and decision-making.

Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods Brigid Barron & Linda Darling-Hammond
Edutopia, October 2008
Cooperative learning and inquiry-based teaching yield big dividends in the classroom. This article explores the research that provides evidence of the efficacy of these instructional strategies. The articles states, “A growing body of research demonstrates that students learn more deeply if they have engaged in activities that require applying classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems… Research shows that such inquiry-based teaching is not so much about seeking the right answer but about developing inquiring minds, and it can yield significant benefits.” The authors also discuss the shifting roles for teachers in a collaborative, inquiry-based learning environment.

Inquiry-Based Learning Workshop Concept to Classroom Web Site, Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004
This interactive online “workshop” guides the reader through an overview of inquiry-based learning, how it differs from a traditional approach, the benefits to student learning, and how to use inquiry-based learning in conjunction with other educational techniques.