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A Model of Cognition in History

new directions cover

Several weeks ago, Manhattan, Kansas, middle school teacher Jesse Peters shared the latest book that focuses on historical thinking and assessment. Edited by Kadriye Ercikan and Peter Seixas, the book is titled New Directions in Assessing Historical Thinking and is a collection of 16 different essays. The essays highlight a variety of  perspectives from both Europe and the United States on how best to measure historical thinking.

It’s an interesting read – though incredibly nerdy at times – that gives some nice insight into current research and practice.

And an article by Bruce VanSledRight that talks about weighted multiple choice caught my attention. But it wasn’t the description of weighted MC that I walked away with. It was a simple graph, titled A Model of Cognition in History, that was my learning for the day.

It’s not really anything new but I think it’s a powerful visual that can make the whole historical thinking, balance of content knowledge and process skills, new way of instruction and learning thing more understandable to teachers.


I think it’s a piece that we’re missing from our state standards. Combined with the Inquiry Arc in the NCSS College, Career, and Civic Life standards and my C4 Framework, VanSledRight’s cognition model is a piece that might help teachers and curriculum designers understand the intended flow of thinking in our students. It just makes things that much more obvious.

Your thoughts? How might you use this while planning lessons and units?


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