This workshop is designed to help teaching assistants teach historical reading skills. One of the great difficulties history graduate students face is how to approach historical skill building with their undergraduates. Undergraduate courses in history can be heavily reliant on knowledge-based lectures, while tutorial hours are spent ensuring that students have absorbed the appropriate information from lectures and readings. Graduate students routinely complain that students, even when they do the assigned readings, rarely identify the appropriate information in those texts. Since reading techniques differ between disciplines, the failure to identify critical information is especially prevalent when non-history students take history electives
Although all historians recognize the importance of historiography to their craft, it is a difficult concept to define. Historiography involves a set of practical skills (analyzing secondary sources for specific information) and conceptual discussions (situating scholarship in the larger field). In my experience, students learn how to deconstruct primary documents in undergraduate history classes, but are less able to do the same with academic writing.
Given that teaching assistants rarely have control over course readings, the activities in this workshop are designed to integrate course material. Mastering historical reading skills will allow students to make meaningful contributions to tutorials and will also help them manage the heavy reading load of a history degree. In the long term, it will encourage them to become critical readers in other aspects of their lives.
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"Reading like a Historian: Discipline-specific reading tools for undergraduates,"
Teaching Innovation Projects: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/tips/vol2/iss2/3