Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Hamblin, Taylor (2020). The Current State of Assessing Historical Thinking: A Literature Analysis, The Nebraska Educator, Volume 5 (2020), pp.

ISSN 2375-6853

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.ne008


© 2020 University of Nebraska


In American schools since the mid 2000’s, social studies departments and state departments of education have created goals and updated standards prioritizing critical thinking engagement. Promotion of critical thinking has created a wealth of scholarship on developing a specific type of critical thinking, or cognition, called historical thinking. Imperative to the promotion of teaching historical thinking is in how teachers can assess the inquiries that make it up. Unfortunately, standardized social studies assessments have failed to measure the acquisition of the new historical thinking standards. In order to improve the assessment practices of history teachers, I wish to do two things: (1) switch the focus from recall-memorization assessments to those that will focus on a diverse array of historical thinking inquiries; and (2) improve the assessments that we currently use to measure historical thinking skills. In order to accomplish these two objectives, I will examine empirical research studies that focused on how students obtain historical thinking skills. From the data, I ascertain how practicing teachers and researchers currently measure historical thinking skills, and from that, propose improvements.