Graduate Program

Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2020

Thesis Director

John H. Bickford III

Thesis Committee Member

Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz

Thesis Committee Member

Edmund F. Wehrle


The purpose of this research study is to compare and contrast the historical thinking abilities of students in distinct age-groups through their use of disciplinary literacy skills. This was accomplished by having eight total subjects from four distinct student age-groups participate in a guided inquiry activity about the beginning of the Korean War. As they engaged in the inquiry activity, the participants’ cognitive process and responses to the researcher’s questions were recorded and transcribed and later analyzed. These transcriptions were juxtaposed with one another in search of any major patterns that emerged during the inquiries. Several patterns were identified including the use, or lack thereof, of important disciplinary literacy skills, logical fallacies, and differences in the information extracted from visual sources by the participants. Students’ training for and experience with history appear as the key variable shaping efficiency. These patterns have implications for both current history and social studies teachers as well as educational researchers.