The Trajectory of Elementary and Middle School Students’ Perceptions of the Concept of History

Author/s:

DOI: 10.12738/estp.2014.6.2318 

Year: 2014 Vol: 14 Number: 6

Abstract

The current study aims to reveal the trajectory (change) of the perception of the concept of history during elementary and middle school years through students’ responses to the question, “What is history in your opinion?” The cross-sectional research design was the preferred method to provide stronger opportunity for the current study to reach its broad target by allowing the simultaneous study of various age groups. The study group consisted of 712 students of various socio-economic statuses from six schools. The data collection tool used for the elementary level first- and second-grade students was an interview, whereas for all higher grades, it was an interview form. Data obtained were analysed through content analysis, resulting in the conclusion that students had three different perceptions of history. Perceptions of history as time exhibited a decline from the beginning of elementary school to the end of middle school, whereas the perception of history as a current activity showed an increasing ascent. Perceptions of history as past remained important all along the trajectory and also showed gradual increases. One of the important results obtained from the current study was that students, from the third grade and above, gradually began to own the history. Their characterization of the past activities transformed to our past activities over time. In conclusion, we contend that the centre of gravity for elementary and middle school students’ perceptions of history reside in the past rather than the present.

Keywords
Elementary Students, History Education, Middle School Students, Perception of History, Perception Trajectory

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