A Literature review of 'historical thinking'

Matt Bailey, Marnie Hughes-Warrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper examines the literature, dating back some 30 years, on the concept of historical thinking, summarising the key findings and arguments of British and American research and debate over the past 30 years. It provides the context for a study, funded by the ALTC, of student and staff perceptions of the nature, development and purposes of historical thinking in tertiary study. The literature has, to date, largely focused on school children and teachers, investigating the understandings of history that children bring to the classroom, how these might be developed, and how they correlate to age and instruction. Research into historical thinking at a university level and age-group remains largely unexplored; conversely, there is a distinct trend to find and value historical thinking in ever-younger age groups. This paper begins by defining what is meant by 'historical thinking'. It then looks at the skills generally associated with historical thinking, before making some comments on the issues surrounding its teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-16
Number of pages4
JournalTeaching History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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