The objectives of this syllabus have been formulated in terms of understandings and behaviours that are considered desirable for students to acquire. They should be read in conjunction with Course Organisation (section 5.1), and with the exit criteria (section 8.3). The objectives of the course of study in Modern History have been defined as:
Planning and using an historical research process
Research involves processes associated with historical procedures. At some stage, these procedures involve understanding and engaging with the broad and complex phenomena that are labelled commonly as ‘historical sources of evidence’. The main focus in this objective is on how students:
identify issues or problems for investigation
develop and focus research questions, hypotheses and sub-questions
devise formats for research that suit the purpose of the research task
locate and use a variety of primary and secondary sources
maintain a coherent record of research
display initiative and independence in the planning and management of all stages of the research process
demonstrate evaluation of the research process and findings, and ongoing revision of the research process as a consequence.
Forming historical knowledge through critical inquiry
In Modern History, this objective aims to develop in students the ability to engage critically with historical sources and to develop the historical knowledge and cognitive skills to:
understand the explicit content of sources
understand the nature of historical sources of evidence, assumptions about the problematic character of historical sources, and the tentative and interpretive qualities of historical knowledge
analyse what is explicit and implicit in a wide variety of sources, including themes, values and interrelationships within and among sources
evaluate the worth of sources. This will involve students in assessing the reliability, authenticity, representativeness, relevance and accuracy of the sources and in identifying value positions, perspectives and standpoints in their historical context.
make decisions, i.e. making a judgement about a question or hypothesis, based on the interpretation and analysis and on the evaluation of sources. This will involve students in:
synthesising evidence into a coherent whole
reaching a conclusion or proposing a solution that is consistent with the interpretation and analysis and with the evaluation of the sources
justifying the conclusion by providing sound reasoning and logical argument in support
demonstrate an attitude of reflection on and revision of judgments made.
Communicating historical knowledge
In Modern History, students should be able to present their historical knowledge and understandings using skills of both written and non-written communication.
This objective refers to:
recalling significant information, and defining and describing key concepts, events, developments and people
providing explanations of and justifications for the processes of research, including the problematic nature of historical sources, the interpretive nature of historical inquiry and the tentative nature of historical judgment
producing written and non-written responses in a variety of genres and under a variety of conditions, and using selected media to show an understanding of the advantages of using a selected form of communication.
Students should be able to produce written and non-written responses that:
incorporate accurate definitions, abstractions and concepts, and relationships between key concepts, events and historical developments
substantiate claims by reference to sources of evidence
use correctly formatted bibliography and the conventions of referencing
illustrate oral skills including audibility, audience involvement, diction, variation of tone, gesture, pitch, the use of visuals, sound or movement, and effective use of language and language conventions
illustrate technological/electronic skills in the development of presentations, such as using video, PowerPoint, interactive computer-based activities and web pages
illustrate written communication that employs effective explanatory and descriptive language, and that uses subject-specific terminology, grammar, sentence construction, punctuation, spelling, paragraphing, original expression and the style and characteristics of each genre.
A course of study from this syllabus is designed to assist students to develop a willingness to:
value the application of the historical method in their studies and in their own lives, especially a readiness to investigate critically, reflect, make judgments and submit them to ongoing evaluation
empathise with the value positions and consequent actions of others in both the past and the present, leading, where appropriate, to tolerance of differences
enhance their personal values framework to reflect a commitment to social and international justice
value the elements of the historical environment — buildings, landscapes, material records
understand the relevance of historical study to their own lives.
4. Language education, and quantitative concepts and skills
4.1 Language education
Language is not only the means of communication but also a vehicle that conveys the attitudes, values, assumptions and prejudices of the people who use it and the times in which they live. Language education in Modern History is concerned therefore not only with equipping students with the skills to communicate effectively in suitable genres but also with helping them develop a critical awareness of language use.
Modern History requires students to understand and use language in a variety of ways: spoken, written, visual, diagrammatic and mathematical. This language may be located in a range of settings including books, journals, laws, speeches, film, cartoons and presentations of various types of electronic media. Each language setting has its own conventions and its own vocabulary to which students need to be sensitised. Language can also be used to establish power relationships. Students should therefore be involved in learning experiences that require them to comprehend and analyse these genres as well as compose appropriate responses of their own.
As the learning of language is a developmental process, teachers of Modern History should plan for the development of the skills necessary for effective communication through Modern History in the senior school. This responsibility entails developing students’ abilities to:
understand what they read and hear
use appropriate and effective language when writing and speaking
be critically aware of the way language can be used to exercise power
use historical terms accurately
use conventions related to appropriate forms (e.g. essays and seminar presentations) and genres (e.g. analytical, persuasive and expository writing)
use language conventions related to grammar, spelling, punctuation and layout
use conventions applicable to maps, diagrams, graphs, statistics and acknowledging sources.
Students should be assessed by the use of instruments that are familiar in both format and level of language.