Writing from sources in history and philosophy courses: teachers’ practices and beliefs

Submitted by: Lieke Holdinga
Abstract: Writing is daily business for students in secondary education, in all subjects. It is a default practice to assess content knowledge. Writing in the content subjects can also support knowledge construction and enhance learning (Bangert-Drowns, Hurley, & Wilkinson, 2004; Klein, 1999; Klein & Boscolo, 2016), but only if the type of writing task is carefully considered, and instruction and support are available. In such cases, students may write to learn, and incidentally or structurally improve their writing skills. With little extra investment, the writing-learning process in the content areas can contribute to the general writing skills of students, which is now mostly the domain of the language teacher, who must deal with large groups and few hours per class. The call for better writing skills from society and higher education cannot be answered by the language teacher alone: therefore it might be a good investment to revise the writing tasks in the content areas into writing education, taking into account that disciplinary writing requires discipline-specific genre-knowledge (Bazerman, 1991).

The aim of the present study is to gain more insight in the current practice and beliefs of history and philosophy teachers in Dutch secondary education (12th grade), when it comes to domain-specific writing from sources. These insights serve as a starting point for designing and testing series of lessons to develop students’ discipline-specific writing from sources, with support for teachers in how to teach discipline-specific writing.
Data will be collected through stimulated recall interviews with 20 teachers of history and philosophy from different secondary schools in the Netherlands. Main questions are what writing from sources entails in each subject, which writing processes are needed and which didactics and support are currently provided by teachers. These variables might very well differ from subject to subject.
Data collection will take place January-March 2019.

Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Hurley, M.M., & Wilkinson, B. (2004). Effects of school-based writing-to-learn interventions of academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 29-58.
Bazerman, C. (1981). What written knowledge does: Three examples of academic discourse. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 11, 361-388.
Klein, P.D. (1999). Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to-learn. Educational Psychology Review, 11(3), 203-270.
Klein, P.D., & Boscolo, P. (2016). Trends in research on writing as a learning activity. Journal of Writing Research, 7(3), 311-350.