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Promoting Historical Contextualization in History Education

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

Historical contextualization is the ability to situate a historical phenomenon or person in a temporal, spatial, and social context to describe, explain, compare, or evaluate it (Van Boxtel & Van Drie, 2012). Historical contextualization is considered a key competency of historical reasoning (Seixas & Morton, 2013). Despite its importance, many studies show that students experience difficulties when asked to perform historical contextualization (e.g., Huijgen, Boxtel, Van de Grift & Holthuis, 2014).

In this online course, we are going to explore the concept of historical contextualization, examine the difficulties students experience when asked to perform historical contextualization and explore how teachers in different European countries promote historical contextualization in their classrooms.

Our approach is threefold. First, it is necessary to conceptualize historical contextualization and identify the role of historical contextualization in the history curricula of different European countries. Secondly, with an observation instrument history lessons will be observed to analyze how different history teachers promote historical contextualization. This observation instrument Framework for Analyzing the Teaching of Historical Contextualization (FAT-HC) contains 40 items related to teacher behavior that promote historical contextualization. Finally, participants will develop and give lessons focusing on promoting historical contextualization.

Aims of the course

We formulated for the course the following three central learning questions:
  1. What is historical contextualization and how is it incorporated in the history curricula of different European countries?
  2. How do history teachers in different European countries promote historical contextualization in their classrooms?
  3. How can you develop lessons which promote historical contextualization?

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the concept of historical contextualization in an international setting
  • Understand how historical contextualization can promote historical reasoning
  • Working with an observation instrument focusing on history teachers’ instructions
  • Develop lessons that promote historical contextualization
  • Establish an international network on the topic of historical contextualization

Short overview of the course

  • Week 1: Exploring the concept of historical contextualization.
  • Week 2: Exploring how students perform historical contextualization.
  • Week 3: Starting to conduct classroom observations
  • Week 4: Further conduct classroom observations
  • Week 5: Analyzing the classroom observations
  • Week 6: Developing lessons that promote historical contextualization

Course Activities

  • Examining literature on historical contextualizing
  • Discussing literature with participants
  • Discussing assignments with participants
  • 3 short assignments
  • 2 large assignments


This course is intended for secondary school history teachers, student history teachers and history teacher educators. Researchers in the field of history education are also welcome to join.


2 ECTS, average of 8 hours a week

Course Staff

Tim Huijgen

Tim Huijgen

Tim Huijgen is currently working as a History Teacher Educator and researcher at the Department for Teacher Education of the University of Groningen. Furthermore, he is a history teacher at a secondary school and an educational author for Noordhoff BV. His research is focusing on the effectiveness of history teachers regarding promoting the important competency of historical contextualization.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No, all articles and other literature will be provided.

Can I get a certificate?

Yes, after completing the course you will receive a certificate of the University of Groningen

  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

    Jan 11, 2016
  3. Classes End

    Feb 29, 2016
  4. Estimated Effort