Investigating students' prior understandings of the Holocaust

Article

By Christopher Edwards and Siobhan O�Dowd, published 21st March 2011

The edge of knowing: investigating students' prior understandings of the Holocaust

Students make sense of new learning on the basis of their prior understandings: we cannot move our students' thinking on unless we understand what they already know. In this article, Edwards and O'Dowd report how they set out to scope a group of Y ear 8  students' prior learning and preconceptions about the Holocaust as part of their forward planning for delivering the topic in Year 9. Their findings show just how important it is to think systematically about what students bring to their learning: much of what the authors discovered surprised them and the process of enquiring into what students already thought helped sharpen thinking about how to structure future learning in ways that would challenge and develop students.

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