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History teachers’ epistemic considerations

A symposium on how teachers make sense of history

October 13–14, 2022, Umeå, Sweden

Epistemological considerations have been discussed within the realm of historical scholarship for a very long time. The acknowledgement of a disparity between the past itself and the histories about that past has increasingly also been applied to history curricula in many parts of the world and so called multi-perspectivism now has a prominent place in history teaching. As an important means of promoting a society’s democratic vibrancy, multi-perspectivism enables students to take critical distance from their knowledge claims and helps complicate and counter the powerful effects of pre-given cognitive frames that tend to reinforce national myths. However, these same syllabi are still also vehicles for national cohesion and tend to reconstruct a national past that is not up for debate. This ambiguity embedded in the combination of reconstruction and deconstruction is a difficult landscape for teachers to navigate. This symposium will explore these issues and they will be addressed in different ways from a multitude of perspectives. Accommodation in Umeå (2 nights) will be covered for the ~20 participants invited.

Call for papers

This symposium seeks papers that explore both conceptual as well as empirical approaches to the issues related to epistemic considerations or beliefs that teachers of history might hold. The primary questions that the symposium seeks to address are:

  1. How do teachers, and prospective teachers, reason regarding the epistemic nature of history? How does their reasoning relate to student groups and syllabi and/or philosophical considerations?
  2. To what extent and in what way does teachers’ reasoning regarding these issues influence their teaching?
  3. How do teachers interpret epistemological issues discussed in curricula and syllabi?
  4. What are the implications for prospective history teacher training and for in-service training of history teachers?


Liliana Maggioni, Catholic University of America, USA

Martin Nitsche, FHNW School of Education, Switzerland

Robert Parkes, University of Newcastle, Australia


Download program (pdf, 118 kB)

Thursday 13 October

8:30–9:00   Arrival, registration, and coffee

9:00–9:15   Welcome and opening address

9:15–10:00  Keynote 1: Liliana Maggioni

10:00–10:30  Coffee break

10:30–11:45  Session One: Elementary and primary school teachers

10:30–11:15  Paper presentations (15 minutes each)

Elementary school teachers’ perspectives on history 1930–1946
Johan Samuelsson, Karlstad University, Sweden

Epistemic considerations of Swiss primary teaching students on historical interpretations
Christian Mathis, Zurich University, Switzerland

‘I never thought about history this way’: development of elementary teachers’ beliefs about history and history education in the context of a professional learning community
Yolande Potjer, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Carla van Boxtel, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Marjolein Dobber, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

11:15–11:45  Session Discussion

Moderator: Martin Nitsche

11:45–12:45  Lunch break

Location: Universum

12:45–14:00  Session Two: Ethnic issues and global education

12:45–13:30  Paper presentations (15 minutes each)

Teaching history in a multi-ethnic context: the relationship between epistemological views and context-bound realization
Simon Lundberg, Umeå University, Sweden

‘Both sides of the story’: epistemic nature of historical knowledge as understood by pre-service history teachers in a South African University
Sarah Godsell, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Epistemology postures of history teachers in creating a global history course
Antoine Gauthier-Trepanier, University of Sherbrooke, Canada

13:30–14:00  Session Discussion

Moderator: Paul Zanazanian

14:00–14:45  Keynote 2: Martin Nitsche

14:45–15:15  Coffee break

15:15–16:30  Session Three: Teachers planning and doing history

15:15–16:00  Paper presentations (15 minutes each)

What does a history teacher do?: knowing, understanding, and enacting the work of teaching history
Richard Hughes, Illinois State University, USA

Collegial planning: a longitudinal study of history teachers’ epistemic negotiations and deliberations
Kenneth Nordgren, Karlstad University, Sweden

The interplay between teachers’ epistemological beliefs, conceptualisation of historical thinking and historical thinking practises: a case study with history teachers in Flanders
Marjolein Wilke, KU Leuven, Belgium
Fine Depaepe, KU Leuven, Belgium
Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse, KU Leuven, Belgium

16:00–16:30  Session Discussion

Moderator: TBA

16:30             End of program, day 1

19:00             Conference dinner


Friday 14 October

9:00–9:15      Welcome Day 2 / Housekeeping

9:15–10:30    Session Four: Teacher reflexivity

9:15–10:00    Paper presentations (15 minutes each)

Cause and consequence vs change and continuity: history teachers’ epistemological reasoning on the relationship between past and present
Natasha Robinson, University of Oxford, UK

From supposed practice and theoretical language to epistemic beliefs and back: History + intervention
Vojtech Ripka, University of Prague, Czechia
Pavla Sykorova, University of Prague, Czechia

The epistemic considerations of PGCE history students – a South African case study
Johan Wassermann, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Katie Angier, University of Cape Town, South Africa

10:00–10:30  Session Discussion

Moderator: Henrik Åström Elmersjö          

10:30–11:00  Coffee break    

11:00–12:15  Session Five: Categorization of epistemic beliefs

11:00–11:45  Paper presentations (15 minutes each)

Adaption of the historical epistemic belief scale into Turkish culture and investigating social studies student teachers’ historical epistemic beliefs
Erkan Dinc, Anadoulu University, Turkey
Servet Ützemur, Gaziantep University, Turkey

Working towards a coming understanding: an analysis of Quebec high school teachers’ discussions on the epistemology of history and its repercussions on assessment
Catherine Duquette, Université du Québec, Canada
Marie-Hélene Brunet, University of Ottawa, Canada
Benjamin Lille, Fédération des Établissements d’Éducation Privée du Québec, Canada

Adapting and testing Maggioni’s BLTHQ to the Norwegian context
David Wagner, University of Stavanger, Norway

11:45–12:15  Session Discussion

Moderator: Liliana Maggioni

12:15–13:15  Lunch break

Location: Universum

13:15–14:00  Keynote 3: Robert Parkes

14:00–14:30  Closing discussion / Concluding remarks

14:30             End of program, day 2



Henrik Åström Elmersjö (Umeå University)
Paul Zanazanian (McGill University)

Latest update: 2022-08-17