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


By Arthur Chapman, published 31st August 2003

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 develops a sophisticated - but accessible - way of classifying causes that enables post-16 students to get to the heart of what a robust causal analysis might look like. He ends his article by outlining a series of ICT tasks on the causes of the 1857 Revolt in India in which knowledge, conceptual awareness and causal reasoning fit together seamlessly and in mutual support. The quality of the thinking underpinning his students’ work - illustrated here - attests to the effectiveness of his approach.

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