(Part III) Learning History Creates Better Adult Outcomes: Teaching History Beyond Achievement Tests

This is the third and final part of an article series that reviews how good history practices lead to beneficial adult outcomes. The first part can be found at (Part I) Learning History Creates Better Adult Outcomes: Teaching History Beyond Achievement Tests.

What Does It Mean To Be Good?

Hostetler helps describe the idea of good as being something that promotes well-being for people, but how he arrives to that idea of well-being seems to only be contrived from the researcher. What is good for a group, and what is perceived as well-being, can only be truly determined if multiple perspectives are there to describe it. Hostetler did not describe how well-being can only be formed from the input from students, parents, teachers, and the community. There will be no right answer for each school, or each researcher. If a researcher is going to create beneficial materials, then they need to have an open dialogue with their community. This conversation should happen often, with different perspectives present, and with the aid of other educational leaders.

 An example of a researcher promoting well-being in history courses is when they build community relations. Along with publishing journal articles and contributing to manuscripts, a researcher should create scaffolded versions of their work and give them to teachers and students. According to Hostetler, researchers are more concerned with the means and methods of their work, and not necessarily what their work produces (Hostetler, 16). A researcher may be more concerned with receiving a grant or being published, but does not ask themselves how these successes benefit students, teachers, and society.

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In order to promote well-being, researchers of history education can build-up communities in their local area and share their findings. These same researchers can affect their local area by being physically present in classrooms and/or school meetings. A wider community could be reached by publishing a website, managed by a social studies organization or oneself. A personal example is History Forge, a website that was created in order to share resources and information about teaching history.

Conclusion to article series

If we take good history teaching as supporting adult well-being (outcomes) through student choice and interest, then history education research should help teachers understand how to promote those outcomes. History classrooms continue to use achievement tests that focus on recall and memorization. Since these assessments do not measure or promote critical thinking, researchers of history education must “identify rigorous and relevant measures” that capture historical thinking (Cappella, 272). It is imperative that researchers study new assessment measures, because the current practice of testing leads teachers to focus on low-level skills that narrow the curriculum, build less positive relationships with students, and to not create culturally relevant curriculum (Nasir, 363).


Bain, R. B., &Shreiner, T.L (2006) The dilemmas of a national assessment in world history: World historians and the 12th grade NAEP. World History Connected, 3(3), 2-4.

Barton. K., & Levstik, L. (2003) Why Don’t More History Teachers Engage Students in Interpretation. Social Education, 67(6), 358-361.

Breakstone, J. (2014). Try, try, try again: The process of designing new history assessments. Theory & Research in Social Education, 42(4), 453-485.

Capella, Elise, J. Lawrence Aber, and Ha Yeon Kim

Dewey, John (1916). “Chapter VII: The Democratic Conception in Education.” In Democracy and Education. New York: The Macmillan Company, 94-116.

Dewey, John (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi. 

Ercikan, K., & Seixas, P. (2011) Assessment of higher order thinking: The case of historical thinking. In G. Schraw & D.R. Robinson (Eds.), Assessment of higher order thinking skills (pp. 245-261). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Hicks, David, Stephanie van Hover, Peter E. Doolittle, and Phillip VanFossen (2012). Learning Social Studies: An Evidence-Based Approach, American Psychology Manual.

Hostetler (2005). “What Is ‘Good’ Education Research?” University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Keirn, T. & Luhr, E. (2012) Subject matter counts: The pre-service teaching and learning of historical thinking. The History Teacher, 45(4), 493-511.

National Council for Social Studies. (2013). C3 Framework.

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