Using video-stimulated recall to understand the reflections of history teachers
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Calls for history teachers to adopt inquiry methods continue to go unabated in educational research and curricular initiatives. In recent years, there has been increased recognition of the important role teacher reflection plays in managing the uncertainty that accompanies such pedagogy in history classrooms. Accordingly, this dissertation was situated within theories of reflection and reflective teaching, which acknowledge teaching to be endemically problematic and teachers as autonomous in their curricular- instructional decisions and thereby resistive to certainty-driven models of history teaching. This dissertation sought to investigate the reflections of inquiry-oriented history teachers by examining how and upon what they reflect throughout a unit of study. Using an interpretive multiple-case design with video-stimulated recall methodology, reflective interviews were conducted with participants in four different schools within the same urban public school district. A cross-case analysis of the data led to several key findings. First, the process of reflection for teachers in practice revealed itself to be more affective and messy than conventional rational models of reflection found in the literature. Second, the results showed that history teachers’ reflections were prioritized in accordance with their values and sense of purpose. Third, the inclusiveness of teachers’ classroom environments and curricular-instructional decisions were a focal point of their reflections. Fourth, the teachers’ reflections were influenced by their understandings of their school cultures, with three of the four teachers finding their school norms and policies as oppositional to the promotion of inquiry methods with their students. Finally, the findings showed that reflection aided teachers’ examination of assumptions embedded within their professional routines and pedagogical decisions, particulary with regard to the selection and use of the essential questions that framed their units. This dissertation highlights the need for more and better reflective opportunites for pre- and in-service history teachers and for better research that might yield further insights into the nature of inquiry-based history teaching.