History Investigations

Please note: this guide was written before the 2014 National Curriculum and some of the advice may no longer be relevant.

These computer-based investigations offer a vehicle for the purposeful use of ICT in history. They are like textual jigsaws, with each piece of the jigsaw being a discrete text file (pictures can also be included).

Cast in the role of history detectives, children drive each investigation, following up clues in their search for explanations. In their progress through the history mysteries, the pupils develop a range of investigative skills of the historian, as they put forward hypotheses, argue points with one another, use logical deduction, assess evidence, and draw conclusions. Pupils are in control of their own learning in an open-ended, challenging and motivating context.

Through pursuing history investigations, children gain an insight into the processes of planning and executing an historical investigation. Once they understand how each textual jigsaw is put together they, and their teachers, can create their own history mysteries. The need to create a working, logically-linked investigation vastly extends each pupil's awareness of evidence, causation and motivation ?and how they interconnect.

Below are three history mysteries on the Exeter University website for teachers to use with their pupils.

A fictional murder mystery, adapted from R G Collingwood's 'The Idea of History' (1946), written to illustrate the investigative nature of the historian's work. The pupils are detectives called to the scene of a murder. Through their investigation of the clues, the pupils come up with their solution to the murder.

Peatcutters discover a body in the bog. Who is he? Why, when and how did he die?

Princes in the tower
All the evidence you need to investigate one of history's most famous missing persons enquiries. Work through the conflicting and contradictory evidence and come up with your own conclusion.


See the 'History mysteries' on the Exeter University website described on the left. History mysteries

On this website see:
The mystery suitcase.

Mystery of the missing cake

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