Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

JohnPaul Smith

Seeing History Up Close: Primary Source Documents and Literacy in Social Studies

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Abstract:

This study examines the relationship between the usage of primary source documents in the social studies classroom and skills of content and disciplinary literacy, specifically the application of content knowledge through the usage, referencing and sourcing, and citing of primary source documents. It also examines student accessibility and comprehension of primary source documents, and the importance of these documents to student understanding of historical characters, events, and contexts. Sources for this research include lesson notes taken of student conversations and questions, student work samples, including brief constructed responses and thesis statements, and primary source usage self-evaluation surveys given to students at the beginning and end of the research period. The data collected shows student improvement in the content and disciplinary skills mentioned over the course of lessons designed for that purpose, both in terms of the quality of student work samples and student’s own responses to the aforementioned surveys.