Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 5, Number 3, Winter 2010
Inquiry teaching with primary source documents: An iterative approach
Research on inquiry teaching in the social studies has concluded that it can refer to any number of approaches and is not taught consistently. The scholarship reveals that inquiry teaching, when used in the classroom, tends to overemphasize one activity — interpreting primary source documents — at the expense of engaging students in the entire process of inquiry. This article argues for engaging students by adopting an iterative approach to historical inquiry and draws on one available model to demonstrate its application. The author concludes that the widespread availability of digital primary sources has expedited teachers’ efforts to locate materials for classroom use, but that a more comprehensive approach to inquiry that includes wonder and reflection must be used in the classroom.
Key Words: Inquiry teaching, Primary sources, Teaching history, Visual literacy, Gender