Graduate Program

Elementary Education

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

John H. Bickford III


This study analyzed students' use of diverse sources for a history-based writing assignment on Abraham Lincoln. Participants includes 41 students in a fifth grade self-contained classroom in rural Illinois. The study was conducted during students' 30-minute writing period, every day for six weeks. During this time period, students close-read trade books and primary sources to collect research on Lincoln. Students also gathered additional information during their field trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Students synthesized their information from the various sources and organized the notes to write an informational, history-based writing piece on Lincoln. Students were required to cite their various sources and corroborate information between sources. Finally, student selected one of three finishing option to share their information with others. The results of the study suggested that students seemed genuinely motivated and intrigued by the assignment, they used close reading to analyze diverse texts effectively but not perfectly, and they engaged in complex forms of writing using non-fiction, history-based curricula. Overall, students were successful in using, citing, and corroborating diverse sources for this complex, history-based writing unit.