Instructional significance for teaching history: A preliminary framework

Lauren Harris, Brian Girard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study explores preservice and practicing teachers' conceptions of historical significance generally and for the history classroom. Using think-aloud interviews and card-sorting data, we engaged in qualitative analysis of how four preservice and five practicing teachers answered two questions related to determining significance: what events are most significant in world history and what events are most important for students to learn? Results showed that (a) participants answered the two questions differently, and (b) both practicing and preservice teachers added considerations when responding to the question about what events are most important for students to learn. Through these analyses, we developed the term instructional significance to describe an aspect of pedagogical content knowledge that serves as a lens through which teachers view the content they teach, and think about that content in preparing to teach students. We use these findings and research on student and teacher conceptions of historical significance to propose a preliminary framework for instructional significance for teaching history. We conclude by suggesting the utility of the framework to history classrooms and to future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Social Studies Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • History teaching
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Significance
  • World history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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