Historical Thinking Skills & Reasoning Processes


Defining Civil Discourse and Viewpoint Diversity


The following are definitions for viewpoint diversity and civil discourse. These working definitions have informed the development of this course and will be at the forefront of the coursework and discussions throughout.


Historical Thinking Skills & Reasoning Processes


Search the internet for “historical reasoning skills,” and several skills and varied descriptions will pop up. What exactly do we mean when we discuss historical reasoning skills? What are those skills, and what do they look like when students are learning them and practicing them? For our purposes, we’ll rely on the skills and descriptions set out by College Board’s Advanced Placement history courses. College Board identifies 6 thinking skills (Developments and Processes, Sourcing and Situation, Claims and Evidence in Sources, Contextualization, Making Connections, and Argumentation) with three additional reasoning processes embedded in the Making Connections skill (Comparison, Causation, and Continuity and Change).

 

Below is a chart of the skills and reasoning processes in these courses. While you may not teach an AP-level course, these skill descriptions offer a strong jumping-off point and can be embedded throughout any secondary social studies course and provide students with opportunities to explore content in a deep and relevant context. We will offer a short overview of each, before diving deeper into some of the most commonly used in the classroom.

 

Skill/Reasoning Process with College Board Description

Developments and Processes
  • Identify a historical concept, development, or process.
  • Explain a historical concept, development, or process.
Sourcing and Situation
  • Identify a source’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience.
  • Explain the point of view purpose, historical situation and/or audience of a source.
  • Explain the significance of a source’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience, including how these might limit the use(s) of a source.
Claims and Evidence in Sources
  • Identify and describe a claim and/or argument in a text-based or non-text-based source.
  • Identify the evidence used in a source to support an argument.
  • Compare the arguments or main ideas of two sources.
  • Explain how claims or evidence support, modify or refute a source’s argument.
Contextualization
  • Identify and describe a historical context for a specific historical development or process.
  • Explain how a specific development or process is situated within a broader historical context.
Making Connections
  • Identify patterns among or connections between historical developments and processes.
  • Explain how a historical development or process relates to another historical development or process.
Comparison
  • Describe similarities and/or differences between different historical developments or processes.
  • Explain relevant similarities and/or differences between specific historical developments and processes.
  • Explain the relative historical significance of similarities and/or differences between different historical developments or processes
Causation
  • Describe the causes and effects of a specific historical development or process.
  • Explain the relationship between causes and effects of a specific historical process or development.
  • Explain the difference between primary and secondary causes and between short-term and long-term effects.
  • Explain how a relevant historical significance of different causes and/or effects.
  • Explain the relative historical significance of different causes and/or effects.
Continuity and Change
  • Identify patterns of continuity and/or change over time.
  • Describe patterns of continuity and/or change over time.
  • Explain the relative historical significance of specific historical developments in relation to a larger pattern of continuity and/or change.
Argumentation
  • Make a historically defensible claim.
  • Support an argument using specific relevant evidence.
    • Describe specific examples of historically relevant evidence.
    • Explain how specific examples of historically relevant evidence support an argument.
  • Use historical reasoning to explain relationships among pieces of historical evidence.
  • Corroborate, qualify, or modify an argument using diverse and alternative evidence in order to develop a complex argument. This argument might:
    • Explain the nuance of an issue by analyzing multiple variables.
    • Explain relevant and insightful connections within and across periods.
    • Explain the relative historical significance of as source’s credibility and limitations.
    • Explain how or why a historical claim or argument is or is not effective.