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

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  • Competition and counterfactuals without confusion

    Article

    Year 10 play a game about the fall of the Tsarist empire to improve their causal reasoningPaula Worth was searching not only for a rigorous question, capable of engendering genuine debate, but also for an engaging and enjoyable activity that would secure GCSE students' substantive knowledge. The answer - or...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 149: Getting pupils to argue about causes

    Article

    Every problem you're wrestling with in the history classroom, other history teachers have wrestled with too. This page is for all those new to the published writings of history teachers in Teaching History. It shows how to make a start in understanding how others have explored and discussed common and...

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  • Thematic or sequential analysis in causal explanations

    Article

    Thematic or sequential analysis in causal explanations? Investigating the kinds of historical understanding that Year 8 and Year 10 demonstrate in their efforts to construct narrativesStruck by what he saw as the complexity, artistry and cognitive achievement of historians' narrative accounts, Robin Kemp decided to explore ways of teaching his...

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  • Key Concepts at Key Stage 3

    Multipage Article

    The key concepts can be divided into three types:  change and continuity; cause and consequence; diversity; and significance, which inform the types of questions historians ask about past events, people and situations, and which are sometimes called second-order concepts; chronological understanding, which provides a framework for comprehending the past; interpretations...

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  • Witchcraft - Using fiction with Year 8s

    Article

    Which women were executed for witchcraft? And which pupils cared? Low-attaining Year 8 use fiction to tackle three demons: extended reading, diversity and causationPaula Worth was concerned that her lowattaining set were only going through the motions when tackling causal explanation. Identifying, prioritising and weighing causes seemed an empty routine...

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  • 'Isn't the trigger the thing that sets the rest of it on fire?'

    Article

    Causation maps: emphasising chronology in causation exercises

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  • Nazi perpetrators in Holocaust education

    Article

    The Holocaust is often framed, in textbooks and exam syllabi, from a perpetrator perspective as a narrative of Nazi policy. We are offered a different orientation here. Interrogating and understanding the Holocaust involves understanding why the people who perpetrated the Holocaust did the things that they did. As Wolf Kaiser...

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  • Investigating students' prior understandings of the Holocaust

    Article

    The edge of knowing: investigating students' prior understandings of the HolocaustStudents 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...

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  • Historical Causation: Is One Thing More Important Than Another?

    Article

    WHAT COLOUR ARE THE UNICORNS?Professor Steve Rigby, recently retired from the University of Manchester, delivered ‘Historical Causation: Is One Thing More Important Than Another?' to the Bolton Branch of the Historical Association on 29th November 2010.  His lecture gives a fascinating introduction to the philosophy of historical causation, looking at...

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  • Counterfactual Reasoning: Comparing British and French History

    Article

    Fog over channel; continent accessible? Year 8 use counterfactual reasoning to explore place and social upheaval in eighteenth-century France and Britain. Two linked motivations inspired Ellen Buxton's research study: she wanted pupils to make connections between British and French history and she wanted to explore the potential of counter-factual reasoning...

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  • Is any explanation better than none?

    Article

    Over-determined narratives, senseless agencies and one-way streets in students' learning about cause and consequence in history What do we know about progression in historical understanding? In Teaching History 113, Lee and Shemilt discussed what progression models can and cannot do to help us think about measuring and developing pupils' understanding...

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  • Holistic assessment through speaking and listening: an experiment with causal reasoning and evidential thinking in Year 8

    Article

    Giles Fullard and Kate Dacey wanted to enrich their department's planning for progression across Key Stage 3 with a strong sequence of activities fostering argument. They wanted an opportunity for students to draw together their prior (Year 7 and early Year 8) learning within causal reasoning and evidential thinking, with...

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  • Does scaffolding make them fall? Reflecting on strategies for developing causal argument in Years 8 and 11

    Article

    Jennifer Evans and Gemma Pate, history teachers in two Essex schools, had noticed that sometimes a writing frame did the opposite of what was intended. Sometimes a card sort fostered rich discussion and ownership; sometimes it led the students down a reductive rather than mind-opening path. Sometimes modelling of paragraphs...

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  • Scott's 5-stage model for progression in conceptual understanding of causation

    Article

    The following model examines progression in learning within a particular domain - cause and consequence.  The Teaching History Research Group produced a series of stage descriptions which they tell us were based on a mixture of "personal experience, observation in many schools, discussions with teacher and research findings". It is...

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  • Mussolini's missing marbles: simulating history at GCSE

    Article

    Arthur Chapman and James Woodcock have collaborated before: Woodcock extended Chapman’s familiar casual metaphor of the final straw breaking a poor abused camel’s back. Here, they collaborate more explicitly to suggest a means of teaching students to produce adequately nuanced historical explanation. Their two central ideas are to produce a...

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  • Does the linguistic release the conceptual? Helping Year 10 to improve their casual reasoning

    Article

    Does new vocabulary help students to express existing ideas for which they do not yet have words or does it actually give them new ideas which they did not previously hold? James Woodcock asks whether offering students new vocabulary can give them new ideas, and whether this can enhance their...

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  • Camels, diamonds and counterfactuals: a model for teaching causal reasoning

    Article

    In the last edition of Teaching History, Arthur Chapman described how he uses ICT to develop sixth form students’ conceptual understanding of interpretations, significance and change. In this article, he turns his attention to causal reasoning and analysis. Drawing on the work of historians such as Evans and Carr, he...

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  • Illuminating the shadow: making progress happen in casual thinking through speaking and listening

    Article

    Here is another breath of fresh air from the Thomas Tallis history department. In TH 103, Head of Department Tony Hier showed how he developed a rigorous framework for implementing government initiatives and improving departmental professional discourse at the same time. This time, from history teacher Vaughan Clark, we get...

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  • Move Me On 92: Having problems teaching causation

    Article

    This Issue's Problem: Melville Miles, student history teacher, is in Term 3 of his PGCE year. Melville has taught a number of excellent lessons in which he enabled pupils to reach high levels of historical understanding. His diagnostic assessment of pupils' work is unusually sophisticated for a PGCE student. Melville's...

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  • Being ambitious with the causes of the First World War: interrogating inevitability

    Article

    Gary Howells asks hard questions about typical teaching and assessment of historical causation at Key Stage 3. Popular activities that may be helpful in addressing particular learning areas, or in teaching pupils to use the terminology of causation, are not in themselves evidence of having acquired a ‘skill'. Howells invites...

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