Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

6-2014

Department

Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Ken Carano

Honors Program Director

Gavin Keulks

Abstract

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a monotone history teacher lectures in a room full of adolescents who show no interest at all in the topic. Unfortunately this is not an isolated instance of teaching history. History teachers are plagued with the stereotype of being dry and boring. While other contents adjust to accommodate students, the majority history tends to be taught in the typical fashion (Laufenberg, 2011, p. 1). A teacher lectures and students absorb information by taking notes. If students are really “lucky” there will be a break from lectures and instead will be able to enjoy a lengthy historical documentary. What can be done to change the ways that history can be taught? Perhaps the approach the teacher takes to teaching can impact the way students respond to the content. Classes typically taught with this lecture style tend to teach history as a timeline (Olson-Raymer, 2011). Teachers start with one event or date and move forward throughout history. An alternative approach further examined in this paper is a thematic approach where a teacher instead selects meaningful themes for students to explore in great detail. While other methods exist outside of these two approaches, the traditional chronological approach is contrasted to the thematic approach to determine if there are ways to alleviate the disinterest students have in history. Advantages, disadvantages and sample lesson plans are used to dissect these approaches to determine their effectiveness for use in the history classroom.

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