The constant updating of the social studies course is due to the processes that occur in an ever-evolving society as well as in the social sciences. The task of the methodology of teaching social studies is the optimal selection of course content, determining the methodological ways of its study, both in the classroom and outside of it (during extracurricular time and during extracurricular activities). Along with the textbook and the teacher’s word, the sources of knowledge in the study of social studies are historical sources. Among all types of historical sources of paramount importance are written monuments. In the methodology of history teaching in the broad sense, written monuments are called documents. The study of documentary material due to the ideological nature of the content of the subject “Social Science”. Organization of work with various sources and documents is an important condition for achieving the goals in the course of social studies. Work with the text of the document in the course of the lesson provides the solution of a number of tasks:
to form in students a deeper and more extensive knowledge of the studied material;
to concretize the acquired knowledge;
to illustrate the material studied;
to memorize the learning material better;
to provide proof of theoretical statements and ideas;
to direct the work to the development of students’ thinking;
to acquaint students with the methods and principles of scientific knowledge;
to develop students’ ability to think independently, make conclusions and generalizations;
develop students’ abilities to think independently, draw conclusions and generalisations;
to stimulate students to independent cognition and an objective assessment of the surrounding reality, as well as the ability to navigate in it.
Work with documents is a necessary condition of the lesson of social studies, because having the support of the source, students see the topic studied in a new way, they have another source of knowledge besides the textbook. Students work with documents with great interest: they like to discuss and compare controversial opinions expressed in the document, to explain their position, to agree or disagree with the authors of the document.
Working with sources of information requires compliance with a number of requirements:
It is necessary to accurately identify the main and most essential in the material under study.
Maintain consistency of information, moving smoothly and gradually from simple to more complex material.
Choose the most effective ways of learning the material and gradually increase the requirements for student autonomy.
Provide continuity in the development of students’ skills in working with learning materials and ensure interdisciplinary and intercourse links.
Working with documents in the classroom requires constant improvement of the pedagogical skills of the teacher. The skill of the teacher, his/her ability to select the necessary sources to use in the classroom, his/her understanding of the stage of the lesson in which the work with sources and documents should be included, and the application of appropriate methods in working with the material for the students – all these largely predetermine the achievement of the goals of the lesson.
When selecting material for the lesson, the teacher should keep in mind that the text may expand, concretize, and update students’ knowledge, but it should not be overloaded. The selected material can be a basis for familiarity and comparison of the facts of the past and the present, it should be connected in meaning with the studied material, be easy to understand and have an adequate volume for digestion. Work with sources containing additional information can stimulate the development of thinking and cognitive abilities of students.
During the study of social studies documents can perform the following functions:
Concretization, deepening, illustration of the content of the studied material, making the conclusions made more convincing, the presentation of the leading ideas – evidence.
Acquaintance with the sources of social sciences, methods of scientific knowledge of society.
Development of the ability to understand texts with which a person and a citizen meets in everyday practical activity. In this case the practical importance of reference to the document is more fully realized by students if they are offered a life situation that requires a legal assessment.
Introduction to the content of the course of current information, presentation to students of those problems that are not fully reflected in the textbook.
Implementation of the regional component of social studies education in the lessons (the use of documents related to their region).
Introduction into the learning process of materials that influence the emotional sphere of the students’ personality.
Increasing the level of independent work of students, creation of conditions for the organization of creative and exploratory activity at the lesson.
The implementation of an individual and differentiated approach to students.
In the process of teaching the course “Social Science” it is possible to systematically use in the learning process of the work of students with different documents. According to I.Y. Lerner’s assertion, a document allows illustrating and concretizing a thought presented by a teacher or described in a textbook, being a source of new ready-made information and a source for independent acquisition of knowledge by students.
An important condition for the successful use of documents is their classification, which systematizes different types of documents and outlines the specific limits of their use. The social studies course uses:
informational materials (short reports, reports from newspapers magazines).
personal documents (letters, diaries, notes);
scientific and popular science texts (excerpts from scientific books, articles of popular science magazines);
normative documents (laws, decrees, charters, treaties, government resolutions, etc.);
political and ideological documents (documents of parties, social and political organizations, speeches of political figures, social and economic programs)
journalistic materials (journalistic articles, interviews);
statistical materials (digital material, inventories, tables, etc.)
philosophical texts (excerpts from philosophical works).
It is expedient to work with sources and documents during such forms of the lesson as lectures, seminars, laboratory and practical exercises, interviews, organization of discussion and educational-research activities, and scientific research. The choice of sources depends on the goals of the lesson, the form of the lesson, the level of preparedness of students and the intent of the teacher.
The main types of sources used in social studies lessons include:
quotations and fragments from works of the past (essays, philosophical and historical works, myths, legends, etc.);
quotations and excerpts from modern literature (fiction, science, popular science, etc.)
fragments from normative and international legal documents, etc;
political and ideological documentation (party programmes, political and ideological movements, speeches of political figures, etc.)
Newspaper and other journalistic materials;
encyclopaedias, reference books, statistical compilations, etc;
textbook and teaching materials.
Let us name the pedagogical possibilities of using documents of different types.
Informational materials. At the heart of a brief informational message is a fact. Work with such materials allows students to learn to compare facts, analyze them independently, draw conclusions on their basis, give comments, personal evaluation of what is reported in the newspaper. The tasks disclosing the capabilities of this type of documents should be aimed at an independent explanation of the facts presented in the document; finding a connection between a fact and a social problem; composing a commentary on the reported facts; independent thematic selection of information messages; purposeful selection of facts.
Personal documents. Work with personal documents is aimed at understanding the value of the person as a person, his or her spiritual world, moral guidelines. In letters, diaries, personal notes the author reveals himself, expresses his individuality. Purposeful use of personal documents allows students to compare their own worldview with the inner world of the author of the document, to determine their attitude toward the thoughts, value judgments of the author, his personality. The methodology of work with these documents is focused primarily on the relevant tasks. Revealing and revealing features of the inner world of a person; understanding the moral principles of the author, his life position; revealing motives of a particular person’s activity.
Scientific and popular science texts. Fragments of scientific and popular science articles reflect the knowledge accumulated by science over many years of its development and current trends in scientific thought. Pedagogical expediency of the use of scientific texts is seen in the fact that they contain scientific knowledge, present hypotheses and scientific theories, allow to focus students’ attention on the features of scientific knowledge, contribute to the formation of a scientific worldview. Assignments to work with scientific texts should be mainly aimed at identifying scientific conclusions and their arguments; methods of scientific cognition; determination of the evidence base of scientific knowledge.
Normative documents. The objectives of social studies education are aimed at forming the foundations of legal culture, the basis of which are normative documents. Their purpose is to regulate the behavior of people in the state. A normative document should provide the maximum certainty of understanding of the content with the greatest simplicity of presentation of ideas. The language of the document is characterized by a number of features: imperative style of presentation, clarity and precision of thought, special terminology. The pedagogical significance of normative texts lies in the fact that they teach to understand the language of a legal document, contribute to the development of legal thinking, foster respect for the law, the formation of an active life position,. To work with this type of document tasks are required aimed at understanding the language of the text of the document; understanding the special terms used in the document; identifying the social significance of the norm; applying the legal norm in relation to the situation; finding relevant examples in real practice of human activities; understanding the need to apply the legal norm.
Political and ideological documents. This type of documents reflects the activities of the state, parties and public associations. These documents express the immediate and long-term goals of political organizations; characterize the methods of achieving them. For the fruitful work on political-ideological documents we recommend tasks to identify the interests of certain social groups manifested in declarations, programs, and statements; to compare the interests of different social groups; to identify the national and social-group values; to determine the unifying role of national and universal values.
Publicist Materials. Publicism examines the most important political, economic and other aspects of society. It expresses the author’s opinion on a socially significant problem. The aim of journalism is to influence, strengthen, or change modern public opinion, morals, and existing political institutions. The value of these materials lies in the fact that such a document appeals to both the mind and feelings, it contains an assessment of the problem, reflections on the ways to solve it. The pedagogical purposes of engaging journalism are to develop an interest in the problem, to form a personal attitude toward it. The tasks revealing the possibilities of this type of documents should be aimed at identifying the position of the publicist, value judgments and their arguments; comparing the author’s position and the student’s position on a public problem; forming a personal attitude to the problem stated in the text.
Let us define the methodological techniques of studying publicist materials:
Types of information, materials
Methodological techniques of working with information
Simple message, narration
Narrative story, event description
Comparative characterization, narrative summary
Explanation, analytical description
Description, reasoning, characterization
Statistical materials reflect the mass phenomena of social life, expressed in numbers. A characteristic feature of statistics is that it is used to predict situations, phenomena, processes. The pedagogical possibilities of statistical materials are that they serve as carriers of information about the processes occurring in the country and the world; based on these data you can study the dynamics of social change. Effective is the use of tasks for the extraction of data from the document; their independent explanation; comparing the information obtained with the observed reality; predicting the development of the process under study; personal evaluation of development trends.
Philosophical texts contribute to the comprehension of human existence and spiritual world. The use of philosophical texts helps to see the peculiarity of philosophical thinking. Working with philosophical texts the student gets in contact with the language, style, logic of presentation, which have an individual author’s character. It is expedient to use tasks for understanding the specificity of the language of the text; understanding the philosophical problems contained in the text; revealing the philosopher’s worldview.
In addition to the above, there are universal tasks that are applicable either to all types of documents (or to most of them):
determining the main idea of the document;
extraction of knowledge from the text of a document or several documents;
making a request for more information on a problem;
comparing the content of a document to the text in a textbook;
comparison of the document with other documents to identify different approaches, views, and evaluations;
formulating conclusions about the document.
Let us define the basic techniques of working with the text:
reading and analysis of the text;
outlining concepts and main ideas;
To single out the main idea, a point;
reading and commenting;
Collective parsing of the text;
generalization of factual and theoretical material to specify the social phenomena under study;
identification of different approaches to socio-historical development, authors’ arguments;
comparison of several sources and search for different ways of solving problems;
formulating generalizing conclusions;
posing questions to the text and defining the essence of the studied phenomena, theories, doctrines, generalized principles, values, cause-effect relations and building a logical chain of judgements;
making summarizing and concretizing tables, logical and textual schemes, plans, theses and outlines;
preparation of reports, essays, essays in the form of a document, etc.
One of the modern and effective ways of working with a primary source is a multiperspective analysis. It helps to concretize the textbook material and the teacher’s narrative, to illustrate the material, and to make it more convincing. The multi-perspective analysis also develops students’ ability to work with different sources of information and to find information from them independently, critically, and navigate through them, thus developing students’ research skills. Through the use of multi-perspective analysis in the learning process, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the problem, and they develop a holistic view of the problem they are studying.
Periodicals are a valuable source of information about current events, about the internal situation in the country and about events in the world. The study of this source of information allows students to form their own view of the facts and events in the country and in the world. The use of newspapers as a source of information in the classroom enables the development of cognitive activity and independence of the students. The newspapers inform the students about the events in the country and in the world, about the existing economic, political and other problems. In the lesson the students work with various dialogical publications, with informational (article, review, correspondence), analytical and fiction (essay, feuilleton, pamphlet) materials. In the course on social studies it is recommended to introduce students to legislative and diplomatic acts, records of state bodies and public organizations, various statistical sources, forensic materials, memoirs, materials of websites and periodicals.
The ways of working with printed publications of the teacher and students should be different.
Ways of working with the teacher’s print media:
Incorporating relevant media information into the presentation of new material;
quoting certain newspaper articles;
analyzing and commenting on newspaper articles;
using materials from periodicals to prepare problematic and cognitive assignments for lessons;
developing memos for commenting on events inside and outside the country.
Ways of working with students’ printed publications:
reading and commenting on material from newspapers as directed by the teacher;
jointly analyzing information and finding answers to questions posed by the teacher;
independent selection of material from periodicals on a given topic;
writing short reports based on information from periodicals and presenting this information in the form of plans, tables, diagrams, and charts.
While working with documents and sources students learn to identify the main points in the text, to specify and summarize the ideas put forward, to analyze the information studied, to compare and contrast facts and phenomena, to determine the relationship between them and to identify existing approaches to their evaluation, to operate with data when studying facts and phenomena of the past and the present, learn to present the data in tabular, schematic and other forms.
Teacher preparation for the use of documents in the classroom involves their prior selection and pedagogical processing. According to the Russian methodologist S. G. Lutkova, the methodological requirements for the content of the documents, the study of which the teacher plans to organize at the lesson, are:
compliance with the goals and objectives of teaching the subject;
reflection of the main, most typical facts and events of the studied epoch;
connection with the program material, promotion of the actualization of students’ knowledge of social studies;
accessibility of the content and volume, interesting content, the opportunity for emotional impact on students;
scientific and literary merits, sufficient informativeness for the development of cognitive independence of students and assimilation of appropriate ways of learning and cognitive activity.
The pedagogical processing of the document is understood as the choice of its content to be used in the lesson, while preserving the features of the author’s style. In some cases the teacher can slightly modify the document without affecting its essence and without tendentious
without making biased selections. The teacher should then explain concepts that are new to the students and develop tasks for working with the document, preferably in the form of handouts. Before referring to the document in class, the teacher gives a brief description of it and tells the students what they can learn from it. As a rule, teaching a document involves the following steps:
a) The teacher gives a sample parsing of the document;
b) the students analyze the document under the teacher’s guidance;
c) students work under the teacher’s guidance and independently;
d) students study the documents independently in class and at home.
Taking into account the content features of the social studies course, the following principles of document selection can be defined:
It is necessary to select documents, first of all, from the sources of those social sciences on which the course is based (philosophy, sociology, political science, law, economics, etc.).
The course should present a variety of documents to reflect the diversity of real life, different types of human activity (scientific, cognitive, labor, entrepreneurial, political, etc.).
When selecting documents, it is necessary to adhere to the principle of consistency, which is that the documents should be united by the goals and tasks of the social studies course, and their content should be included in the system of knowledge presented in the textbook. The selection of documents should be focused on the main concepts and guiding ideas of the lesson, topic.
The selection of documents should take into account the psychological characteristics of students in basic and high school. It is necessary to select those documents that will meet the interests and capabilities of a certain age group of students.
The document should be accessible and with a certain mental effort understandable to students in content and form. In this case the task assigned to the document will develop the student’s thinking. It is important to take into account the level of knowledge and skills of students, the conceptual apparatus that is formed both within the course and during the study of other subjects in a particular class.
When selecting documents it is important to implement the principle of developmental learning, which regulates the ratio of the achieved and planned levels of activity, aims at its gradual complication.
Methodological methods of studying documentary material
Teacher’s story. Most often the document is included in the teacher’s story in order to make the description concrete and give it more emotionality. It is organically included in the story in the form of small excerpts and quotations of phrases, sentences and characteristics. In this case it is not necessary to specify each time the source from which the teacher extracted documentary material for the story. A general reference will be enough: “According to a political figure…”, “According to a contemporary…”, etc.
The inclusion of a fragment of a document in the teacher’s oral narrative is appropriate if it:
small in volume and easily perceived by ear;
simple and understandable to students without additional comments;
strengthens the emotionality and concreteness of the presentation;
awakens the cognitive interest of students;
contains the statement of historical figures and with the help of simple language and apt description helps to enliven the lesson.
The teacher can include a historical document in his story using the following techniques:
stating the content of the document;
Providing brief quotations with (or without) reference to the document to reinforce the evidence for their story
Quoting and parsing excerpts from the document to make the story more concrete, compelling, and emotional;
Using direct speech and personification.
Effective learning and cognitive activity of students on the study of documentary material in a social studies lesson can be organized by using such techniques as:
Commentary reading, which involves direct reference of students to the content of the document. It is possible to ask rhetorical questions about the text and have the teacher answer them. However, taking into account the preparedness of the class, some of the questions may be addressed to the students, in which case the teacher helps them find and formulate the correct answer. In this way, all the students join in commenting on the text.
Collective parsing of the document, during which the class is offered a series of questions (“How do you understand …?”, “What does …?”, “Why …?”, “Reveal the connection …”, etc.). Then students’ answers are heard and corrected.
Students make up questions and assignments to the content of the document.
Identification of the main idea of the document; organization of work with the text using the “key word” method.
Comparison of two historical documents that complement or contradict each other.
Making an outline of the document.
Taking notes on the document.
Preparation of student reports on the contents of the document.
Multilevel analysis of the contents of the document, taking into account its type
Upon analyzing contemporary Russian educational and methodological manuals, E. Vyazemsky and V. Strelova came to the conclusion that, despite the qualitative updating of the content of socio-humanitarian education, among the questions and tasks for documents prevail those aimed only at reading and selectively retelling the source. At the same time, in order to organize cognition of society through comprehension and creative analysis of written sources, it is necessary to treat the document as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. When examining a document as the phenomenon described above, students may be interested in the following points:
The content of the source: what does the text say? What events, processes and phenomena does the author narrate about? How does he explain what happened? What is the informational value of the document?
The circumstances in which the document was created (and found): where, when, and by whom was it written? What were the circumstances that caused it to appear? Where was it first published? Where and how was the document stored, under what circumstances was it found?
The identity of the author: who is he? What is he like? What goals and interests guided the author in creating the document? What sources of information did he use? How does the author feel about what he or she is writing about and about those to whom his or her message is addressed?
Type and structure of the document: What does the document look like? What type of written source does this document belong to? What are the peculiarities of the content and structure of this document? What are the similarities and differences between this document and others like it?
The context of the document: what is said “between the lines” of the document? What does the author say allegorically or does he/she not say at all? What is the meaning of certain words and expressions? How does this source help us understand this course material? What is the value of this document in developing the critical thinking of a researcher, in the formation of a humanistic system of values?
Certainly, it is practically impossible within the framework of a school social studies lesson to comprehensively and deeply investigate each document on its topic. The choice of one or another direction and their combination is left to the teacher to be aware of possible approaches to the study of documents and to methodologically substantiate the choice of the most effective one.
The idea of multilevel analysis of sources lies at the basis of creating a system of typological questions to documents. The first level includes questions that help establish the identity of the author of the document, the time, place and circumstances of its creation, as well as determine the type of source. These questions are aimed at “passporting” the historical document. The second level questions are aimed at selective reading of the source in order to highlight the main and essential facts about which the author tells, their causes and results, as well as the author’s evaluative statements. Through their detection, a historical-logical analysis of the source takes place. The third level questions are related to the value (axiological) analysis of the document, which involves determining the value attitudes of historical figures or organizations represented in the document, as well as the author himself. The fourth level involves a critical analysis of the source. Students attempt to confirm or deny the validity of the document and to explain the motives of its author. Level 5 questions complete a systematic analysis of the document and clarify its relevance to the study of a specific topic or research problem.
The material offered to the children as a source of knowledge should contain answers to the questions posed to them by the teacher. When formulating these questions, it is important to keep in mind that alternative, problematic, and axiological questions and tasks dominate over reproductive ones, which will be beneficial to the development of students’ ability to think critically and logically. The search for answers to these questions will be directed to the formation of the students’ ability to understand the motives of human actions and the reasons for the events, and will contribute to the moral formation of the child’s personality.
The teacher could incorporate primary source materials when explaining new material to the students, for example, by quoting a document and including its main points and ideas in his or her story. The teacher can also organize students’ independent work based on these materials, focusing on achievement. When organizing independent work of great importance is to prepare students to perform it, a differentiated approach, the presence of different options for tasks for frontal, group and individual work.
The success of the student’s independent work with the text of the primary source is largely determined by the program of action laid down by the teacher, which should correspond to the didactic task and the content of the material. It is also important to consider the readiness of the student for this type of work. When organizing students’ independent work with primary sources, it makes sense to prepare assignments at various levels. The preparation of these tasks should be guided by the levels of cognitive independence of students. The choice of level is determined by the learning goals and cognitive abilities of the student.
Assignments at the reproductive level may consist of a student writing out basic concepts, definitions and conclusions. Work with the text of the document at this level comes down to understanding the text. Answers to questions at this level do not require clarification and are reduced to retelling the text and are based on recognition of studied facts, events and phenomena in it. You may be offered tasks to fill in a table or a diagram according to the sample while parsing the text together.
Transformative level assignments may include a story based on source data, analysis of document material, and identification of the main idea and conclusions. In responding, the student should draw parallels between the data in the document and the theoretical material studied, independently select and group facts and events in the text, and incorporate them into his or her story for a more accurate presentation of the material. When answering, the student should also point out the author’s approach to the material and identify his concept of social development. Assignments may be offered for an extended outline, textual tables and diagrams, for preparation of essays and reports.
The creative and exploratory level of tasks involves solving creative, problematic and cognitive problems. The tasks at this level require students to comprehend the ideas of the documents under consideration and to compare different points of view of the authors of these texts. Students need to identify the principles of comparison of the phenomena under study, be able to create comparison tables and build logical chains. Students should be able to argue their point of view in a discussion, referring to the theoretical premises of the primary source. At this level students search and select material, analyze and systematize it, and prepare creative essays on a given topic.
For the successful solution of cognitive tasks and performance of educational and practical tasks it is advisable to offer students to use the memoranda when they perform their independent work. In compiling these memos, the recommendations proposed by L.N. Bogolyubov and L.F. Ivanova were used.
Examples of handouts:
Memo for solving cognitive tasks
Carefully study the definition of the problem and, guided by the information from the dictionary, reference books, and the textbook, define the new terms.
Match the questions to the problem statement:
determine the initial data in the condition of the problem;
Define what knowledge should be used to solve the problem and from what sources this knowledge can be found;
Think about what general rules of knowledge will allow you to solve the problem.
Construct a preliminary answer to the question posed, or an answer corresponding to the prescription of the problem.
Argue your answer, proving that your solutions are correct.
Verify that your answer is correct:
whether your answer reveals the essence of the question and conforms to the prescription of the task,
whether you were able to answer all the questions in the problem (if there were more than one);
whether the arguments you gave do not contradict each other;
whether there is no contradiction between the raw data and your answer;
whether an alternative way of solving the problem is possible;
Does the condition of the problem suggest any other conclusions than the ones you have drawn?
whether you are able to prove your solution and the conclusions you arrived at, using arguments and facts and examples, and explain how you arrived at your solution.
Memo for solving the learning and practice problems
Identify the essence of the requirement (prescription) of the task.
Determine what knowledge is needed and from what sources it can be obtained.
Determine the sequence of the task:
make a list of questions that need to be answered,
think about where and how to find all the necessary information (from what sources, what objects to observe, and from what people to get the information),
decide on the best way to record the data you get,
if the task is done in groups, distribute the responsibilities among all the participants,
set a deadline for each stage of the task and a deadline for the whole task,
Discuss your plan for completing the task with your team or your teacher and modify it if necessary.
Follow your plan until you have completed it.
Check to see if the assignment is complete:
make sure that the scope and reliability of the input data are sufficient and that your calculations are error-free,
Make sense of the information and synthesize it, and formulate practical recommendations,
make sure that your conclusions are proven,
make sure that you formulate all valid conclusions,
Clarify the issues that arose during your work on the assignment, and make sure that their solution is accounted for in the results.
Format the results as required by the teacher orally, in writing, or visually.
The document can be used at all stages of the learning process. It acts as a source of knowledge during the study of new material, is a means of consolidation of the studied topic. Work with the document may be part of homework. It is reasonable to check the quality of knowledge by using the text of the document. Repeated reference to the previously studied document in subsequent topics is an important condition for the integrity of social science knowledge.