July 31, 2020

Primary Source Learning: History Assessments of Thinking

The first Thanksgiving 1621

Is the painting above by J.L.G Ferris—The First Thanksgiving 1621—a useful resource for historians who wish to understand the relationship between the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrim settlers in 1621? This is the question asked by Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) consortium member Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) in one of their Beyond the Bubble History Assessments of Thinking (HATs).

Beyond the Bubble uses Library of Congress primary sources in “easy-to-use assessments that capture students’ knowledge in action – rather than their recall of discrete facts”. SHEG has created more than 100 HATs that range from the 13th century through the 20th century.

Beyond the Bubble assessments focus on the following aspects of historical knowing:

Evaluation of evidence involves the critical assessment of historical sources.  It includes the following:

  • Sourcing asks students to consider who wrote a document as well as the circumstances of its creation. Who authored a given document? When? For what purpose?
  • Contextualization asks students to locate a document in time and place, and to understand how these factors shape its content.
  • Corroboration asks students to consider details across multiple sources to determine points of agreement and disagreement.

Historical knowledge encompasses various ways of knowing about the past, including:

  • Historical information is the recognition and recall of important factual data.
  • Significance requires students to evaluate the importance of people and events.
  • Periodization asks students to group ideas and events by era.
  • Narrative is deep knowledge of how the past unfolded over time.

Historical argumentation requires the articulation of historical claims and the use of evidence to support them.

All HATs are available online but users must register to make comments online or to download materials for use offline. Each HAT provides the following:

  • Historical content description
  • Historical skills covered
  • Hyperlinked list of similar assessment types
  • Common Core State Standards alignment
  • Assessment directions
  • Source text(s)
  • Assessment background
  • Assessment rubric (basic, emergent, proficient)

Beyond the Bubble also includes 10 core assessments—including The First Thanksgiving—that provide sample student responses and instructional strategy videos.


SHEG Beyond the Bubble website

TPS Illinois Partners Teaching Resources

National TPS Consortium Member List


Speak Your Mind