Download the full-sized PDF of Engaging with the evidence:  exploring the development of historical understanding in students using primary documentsDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Engaging with the evidence: exploring the development of historical understanding in students using primary documents Open Access


Other title
historical understanding
primary documents
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Coyne, Catherine Elizabeth
Supervisor and department
Gibson, Susan (Elementary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Peck, Carla (Elementary Education)
Richardson, George (Secondary Education)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
Research in the development of historical understanding in students has demonstrated that the use of primary source documents engages students in a more meaningful way in the study of history (Barton, 1997c; VanSledright, 2002; Wineburg, 2001). To determine if this research was supported in a local context, I conducted a series of lessons with a class of seventh grade students using primary source documents to answer the central research question: To what extent is the development of historical understanding in students enhanced by the use of primary documents? After learning about Louis Riel and engaging with a series of primary source documents, the students used the documents to answer the question: should Louis Riel have been convicted of treason at his trial in 1885? From the class, the responses of ten participants were coded using VanSledright’s (2002) four reading strategies, ranging from comprehension strategies to more sophisticated intertextual evaluations. This case study reveals that while students struggle to work at the higher levels of historical reading, the use of primary source documents enhances student self-efficacy in social studies. This study also accentuated the need for students to be specifically taught the necessary literacy skills to decode and interpret documents in isolation and intertextually.
License granted by Catherine Coyne ( on 2009-08-28T15:33:47Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 196455
Last modified: 2015:10:12 15:58:14-06:00
Filename: Coyne_Catherine_Fall 2009.pdf
Original checksum: e819f00f811297c5fdf1c846bbb21604
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File title: Microsoft Word - Coyne_Catherine_Fall 2009 _2_.doc
File author: fisherk
Page count: 81
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date