Suggestions for Future Research
Almost 25 years after Wineburg’s (1991) pioneering study on historians’ and students’ historical reading, there are a number of important questions still unanswered about teaching history. For example, although Monte Sano (2008), De La Paz (2005), and other researchers have studied the teaching of historical writing, little has been done to investigate historians’ writing processes. Do historians use heuristics when writing—heuristics that might be taught to students? Perhaps observing historians complete an abbreviated writing activity might reveal specific writing strategies that they use.
Additionally, during document-based lessons, students frequently interact in groups. Teachers have students work in groups to support each other through this challenging cognitive work. Because historical reading, thinking, and writing within this setting become a social process, it may provide an opportunity to foster the social literacies of historians. However, these social literacies have never been researched. How do historians read interactively, and do they use strategies that might be taught to students? Because historians view reading and writing in terms of their relationships with other historians—they read and write to participate in a dialogue—work must be done to research their social literacies. Additionally, studies could be conducted on the social literacies of students in classrooms where historical thinking is practiced. What does peer review look like in a secondary history classroom and what should it look like?
Currently, all research on historical reading and writing has focused on individual cognition, ignoring the social aspects of reading, thinking, and writing.
Additionally, as the objectives of history teaching change so must the assessments. Some good work on the assessment of historical reading and writing is being conducted (Erckican & Seixas, 2015; Seixas, Gibson, & Ercikan, 2015; Smith & Breakstone, 2015; VanSledright, 2014). However, much more needs to be done to develop reliable and valid assessments that are practical for teachers and researchers. The assessment of historical reading and writing is in great need of further research as the objectives of history teaching expand to include historian-like reading, thinking, and writing.
Increasing accessibility to information and misinformation makes historical reading and writing essential, not just for historians but for all members of society. Creating a discourse community within secondary history classrooms that recognizes and values what, how, and why historians read and write fosters historical literacy. Further research on historians’ writing strategies, social reading within historical contexts, and the assessment of historical literacies will help teachers create classrooms where reading and writing follow disciplinary norms.