Publication Details

Clarsen, G. W. (2009). Challenges of the large survey subject: teaching and learning how to read history. The Student Experience: Proceedings of the 32nd HERDSA Annual Conference (pp. 81-89). Milperra, Australia: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.


The large survey subject is a challenge to all humanities, but many of the problems it poses are specific to each discipline. This paper tracks the difficulties of teaching a first year university history subject, as class sizes increase and the traditional tutorial delivery mode is under pressure through fiscal constraints and administrative policy. It utilises the emerging literature on teaching and learning history, History SoTL, which reflects a new interest in disciplinary-specific pedagogical practices. This paper outlines the moves I have made - in keeping with the recent historiographical emphasis on developing students' historical consciousness, rather than simply expecting students to acquire knowledge of past events - to give students a better understanding of how historians think, read and write.