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Examining Children’s Historical Thinking in Hands-On History Spaces

Thesis by Megan A. Martinko (2017)

To combat the spread of fake news, researchers and academics point to historical thinking as a possible solution. While generally researched in terms of formal education, historical thinking is also being considered in history museums. This research examined the ways in which children engage in historical thinking in history museums’ hands-on spaces using Peter Seixas’ (2007; 2015) six historical thinking concepts. The researcher video-recorded the interactions of 29 children between 8-12 years old in hands on spaces in three history museums. Results showed that children engaged in multiple instances and various types of historical thinking. Manipulable objects yielded the most instances of historical thinking across the six concepts, suggesting they may provide the structures necessary for children to engage in historical thinking. These findings may be useful to researchers interested in children’s historical thinking, museum educators, and exhibit designers who may be considering these spaces for their own institutions.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museology, museum studies, research, children, history museums, historical thinking, critical thinking, video observations


Martinko, M., & Luke, Jessica. (2017). Examining children’s historical thinking in hands-on history spaces. [University of Washington Libraries].