Begin Unit 3

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Tammy Clark
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Using Cognitive Flexibility Theory to Teach History

Unit #3

After reviewing information from Unit 3, you should be able to:

  • Begin building your course
  • Implement ideas and lists you created in this course into your course

Practical Application

What would a history course with CFT look like?

Because one of the main tools in CFT is hypertext, online environments like webpages or wikis are ideal places for course based on CFT. By using hypertext, you can allow the student to migrate through cases at their own pace and through their own path as they learn about the topic you are presenting.

Case-based learning means you need to give the students multiple cases based on the same topic so they can attack the information from different viewpoints. One of the best ways to do this is through historiography. Try choosing different historians' works on the same topic and allow student to find their own way of interpreting the past.

The cases you use can always be mulitple types of text and/or media. Present information on the Civil Rights Movement through video, audio, picture, personal accounts, news accounts, histories, textbooks, and so on. While each covers the same event, each will also give the student a much different point of view.

Start creating your course

Now, bring all of the elements together that you learned about CFT and create your own course. Remember to explain to the students why you are using CFT (history is an ill-structured domain). Because CFT presents information differently than traditional "drill and kill" courses, the students may not be used to the format. This is a good time to present your students with the survey on Epistemic Beliefs.

As you complete your course, remember that it is not simply a computerized lesson. Work with their your students as they work with the material. Use the opportunities that CFT present (e.g. multiple perspectives) to engage the students in lively discussion and informed debate.

A step-by-step checklist

  • Choose your learning environment (e.g. wiki)
  • Choose your topic (e.g. American Civil Rights Movement)
  • Choose your themes (e.g. student involvement, peaceful demonstration)
  • Choose your media (e.g. audio tapes of President Kennedy, pictures of Little Rock, personal account from SNCC)
  • Create a survey of Epistemic Beliefs
  • Create the learning environment
  • Test the environment for bugs
  • Prepare some group discussions/ lecture points to accompany the lesson
  • Implement the program