Research on Teaching with Primary Sources
2016 to 2020

EDC is conducting research on effective teaching with primary sources, in collaboration with partner organizations in the Library of Congress's Teaching Primary Sources program. The TPS consortium is the Library’s premier effort to foster deeper and more engaged learning in U.S. history and other disciplines for K–16 students across the country. 

 As the TPS Consortium's research partner, EDC is conducting multiple research projects that investigate the circumstances and outcomes of effective primary source-based teaching. The studies are designed to advance our understanding of strategies for supporting teachers and students in using primary sources to make sense of our nation's past, present, and future.

 Studies underway include: 

·       A Study of Durable Learning Routines. EDC has partnered with a TPS Regional Grantee, New Visions for Public Schools in New York City, to examine how teachers have employed a set of “durable learning routines”—whole-class active learning strategies—to help students unpack complex primary source documents. Researchers followed middle- and high-school teachers through a summer professional development institute, and gathered data on teachers’ enactment of the strategies and on pre/post student performance.  

·       Lesson Authoring with Primary Source Sets. Working with consortium members from the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Historical Museum, and the Maryland Humanities Center, EDC is studying how teachers adapt and teach with the primary source document sets that states and districts are increasingly developing to encourage teachers to incorporate primary source documents into their lessons and units.

·       Collaborative Teacher Research. EDC is partnering with individual teachers to help them document their own learning as they begin to use more primary sources in their teaching. The aim is to highlight teachers’ voices and their experiences of professional growth and change, as they strive to take advantage of materials that support—and perhaps require—more student-centered and inquiry-based teaching approaches. 

·       Teacher-in-Residence Evaluation. EDC interviewed former teachers-in-residence at the Library of Congress and produced a report to help education outreach staff evaluate this longstanding program and plan for its future.

·       Primary Source Research Matrix. EDC reviewed empirical studies related to the use of primary sources in teaching and learning and produced a matrix summarizing salient aspects of key studies. The matrix is intended to help inform organizations working with the Library, curriculum developers, professional development providers, and teachers interested in informing their work through existing research. EDC also has developed a set of articles that highlight key research-based approaches to curriculum and PD anchored in primary sources.