Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


To best challenge students’ thinking, researchers and educators must locate or create innovative ways to spark enthusiasm and facilitate criticality. This paper investigates how middle school students analyzed various primary and secondary historical documents to construct original political cartoons. Students articulated newly generated understandings about the complex historical event within these original political cartoons. Students then examined and discussed peers’ original political cartoons. This approach was novel because the research literature indicated students rarely are asked to construct original political cartoons to express opinions and understandings. Political cartoons mostly are used as tools for interpretation and usually only with gifted and older students. This approach was successful because of the positive impact that original political cartooning had on students’ engagement, interpretational skills, criticality, expressivity, and the class’s discussions. The original political cartoons served as engaging teaching and learning tools that enabled students to see history’s complex and unsettled nature.


This article was originally published in the open access journal Social Studies Research and Practice: