Cause and consequence

While E.H. Carr’s claim that ‘all history is the history of causes’ may have been widely challenged by historians anxious to demonstrate the breadth of their concerns and the range of other important questions to be asked about the past, causal explanation features prominently in history teaching and learning at all stages within the school curriculum.  The resources in this section will help teachers to think about the nature of progression in students’ understanding of cause and consequence and to recognise common misconceptions that they may need to address. The materials offer a wide range of practical strategies, as well as insights drawn from historians’ practice and research into students’ understanding, that will help teachers to determine the most useful ways of helping students to develop more powerful causal explanations. Some of them also highlight the need to pay more attention in planning schemes of work to the identification, explanation and evaluation of historical consequences. Read more

Sort by: Date (Newest first) | Title A-Z
Show: All | Articles | Podcasts | Multipage Articles
  • Film: What's the wisdom on... Consequence

    Article

    'What’s the wisdom on…' is a popular feature in our secondary journal Teaching History and provides the perfect stimulus for a department meeting. 'What’s the wisdom on…' provides history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of many years of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. To...

    Click to view
  • Using individuals’ stories to help GCSE students to explain change and causation

    Article

    Should we, and how do we, develop in our students a sense of period – or a series of senses of period – in a thematic study spanning a thousand years? This was the problem faced by Matthew Fearns-Davies in preparing for the GCSE ‘Health and the People’ paper. He shows...

    Click to view
  • Deepening Year 9’s knowledge for better causation arguments

    Article

    Frustrated by her students’ glib use of catch-all terms such as ‘militarism’ in addressing causation, Alexia Michalaki wanted her Year 9 students to produce mature causal explanations of World War I. To encourage this to happen she went back into decades of pedagogical writing and research, teasing out the ways...

    Click to view
  • What’s The Wisdom On... Consequence

    Article

    Consequence easily becomes ‘causation’s forgotten sibling’, as Fordham noted, in the title of a workshop presented at the 2012 Historical Association conference. The choice to treat consequence separately from causation in this series of articles is, therefore, a very deliberate one. Yet an emphasis on the importance of consequences should...

    Click to view
  • Moving Year 9 towards more complex causal explanations of Holocaust perpetration

    Article

    Building on research by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, Matthew Duncan was concerned that his students were drawn to simplistic explanations of Holocaust perpetrators’ actions. As well as the UCL Centre’s research, Duncan drew on history education research from Canada and history teachers’ theorisation in England for inspiration in...

    Click to view
  • Film: What's the wisdom on... Causation

    Article

    We’ve been talking to our secondary school members and we know how difficult life is for teachers in the current circumstances, so we wanted to lend a helping hand. 'What’s the wisdom on…' is a brand-new and already popular feature in our secondary journal Teaching History and provides the perfect...

    Click to view
  • What’s in a narrative? Unpicking Year 9 narratives of change in Stalin’s Russia

    Article

    Is it structure or the selection of knowledge that makes writing historical narrative so difficult? Where does a conceptual focus on change, or causation, come in? James Ellis set out to explore the challenges his Year 9 pupils faced in writing historical narratives about change. Inspired by the work of...

    Click to view
  • Changing thinking about cause

    Article

    Aware both that causation is the bread and butter of the historian’s craft, and that trainee teachers find it far harder to teach well than they anticipate, Alex Ford sought to get to the heart of the problem with causation, especially at GCSE. When teaching to a specification and mark...

    Click to view
  • Planning increasingly complex causal models at Key Stage 3

    Article

    While weighing up the relative merits of the competing narratives of the Battle of Hastings that his department might present to Year 7, Matthew Stanford began to consider how the causal models that teachers introduce influence the causal arguments that students later go on to write. In this article, Stanford...

    Click to view
  • What’s the wisdom on… Causation

    Article

    What's the Wisdom On... is a short guide providing new history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. It draws on tried and tested approaches arising from teachers with years of experimenting, researching, practising, writing and debating their...

    Click to view
  • Using diagrammatic representations of counterfactuals to develop causal reasoning

    Article

    Tom Bennett begins his article with a tale of a frustrating afternoon with Year 7. We’ve all been there. In his case, his frustration was caused by his finding a conceptual gap between how well his class wanted to do and the actual quality of their causal thinking. Bennett decided...

    Click to view
  • From flight paths to spiders’ webs: developing a progression model for Key Stage 3

    Article

    The disapplication of level descriptions in the 2014 National Curriculum has spurred many history departments to rethink their approach not only to assessment but to their models of progression. In this article Rachael Cook builds on the recent work of history teachers such as Ford (TH157), Hawkey et al (TH161),...

    Click to view
  • Dealing with the consequences

    Article

    Do GCSE and A-level questions that purport to be about consequences actually reward reasoning about historical consequences at all? Molly-Ann Navey concluded that they do not and that they fail to encourage the kind of argument that academic historians engage in when reaching judgements about consequences. Navey decided that it...

    Click to view
  • ‘Its ultimate pattern was greater than its parts’

    Article

    Identifying the challenges his students faced both with recall and analysis of the content they had learned for their GCSE course, Ed Durbin devised a solution which focused not on exam skills and revision lessons, but on using Key Stage 3 to build the ‘hinterland’ of contextual knowledge and causal...

    Click to view
  • The devil is the detail

    Article

    Like many history departments, Hugh Richards' department at Huntington School uses enquiry questions to structure their medium-term planning. Yet Richards noticed that his efforts to build knowledge across an enquiry by teaching macro-narratives as an unfolding story seemed to make it harder for some pupils to see and retain the...

    Click to view
  • Couching counterfactuals in knowledge when explaining the Salem witch trials with Year 13

    Article

    Puzzled by the shrugs and unimaginative responses of his students when asked certain counterfactual questions, James Edward Carroll set out to explore what types of counterfactual questions would elicit sophisticated causal explanations. During his pursuit of the ‘gold standard’ of counterfactual reasoning, Carroll drew upon theories of academic history in...

    Click to view
  • ‘If you had told me before that these students were Russians, I would not have believed it’

    Article

    Bjorn Wansink and his co-authors have aligned their teaching of a recent and controversial historical issue – the Cold War – in the light of a contemporary incident. This article demonstrates a means of ensuring that students understand that different cultures’ views of their shared past are nuanced, rather than monolithic – a different concept in philosophy as well as in...

    Click to view
  • Does the grammatical ‘release the conceptual’?

    Article

    Jim Carroll noticed basic literacy errors in his Year 13s’ writing, but on closer examination decided that these were not best addressed purely as literacy issues. Through an intervention based on clauses, Carroll managed to enable his students to write better, but he did this by teasing out principles of...

    Click to view
  • Using causation diagrams to help sixth-formers think about cause and effect

    Article

    Alex Alcoe was concerned that mastery of certain keywords and question formulae at GCSE perhaps obscured fundamental gaps in his students’ understanding of the nature of causation. These gaps were revealed when he invited Year 12 students to make explicit, by annotating a diagram, their understanding of the relationship between...

    Click to view
  • Using nominalisation to develop written causal arguments

    Article

    How nominalisation might develop students’ written causal arguments Frustrated that previously taught writing frames seemed to impede his A-level students’ historical arguments, James Edward Carroll theorised that the inadequacies he identified in their writing were as much disciplinary as stylistic. Drawing on two discourses that are often largely isolated from...

    Click to view