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Assessing Historical Thinking at a State History Museum

Thesis by Michael Rzemien (2016)

The purpose of this study was to use The Big Six: Historical Thinking Skills framework (Seixas, 2013) to describe historical thinking by adult visitors at a local history museum. Data was collected through interviews with 26 visitors to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Findings suggest that the majority of visitors engaged in historical thinking during their museum experience. Most common were instances where respondents considered historical consequences, made connections between past and present, and thought about issues of right and wrong in connection with history. In some cases, responses identified the varieties of historical thinking from the framework while in other cases they did not. This research is intended to inform discussion about how history is presented in museums and to explore some of the ways visitors reach understandings about historical content.


Keywords: research, historical thinking, critical thinking, visitors, adults, history museums, exhibitions, learning, education


Rzemien, M. (2016). Assessing historical thinking at a state history museum. (Order No. 10138639). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1821312426). Retrieved from