Wednesday, April 22, 2009

5 Great Ways to Study History

History is a fascinating subject that can challenge students to question everything that has happened before their existence. It opens up doors to times long ago and lets students know that while there are differences across eras in human history there are also many similarities. Many students roll their eyes when it comes to history class but with the proper perspective this can be their favorite subject. The key is to clear the first hurdle of being engaged in the subject and then it’s time to learn how to study history. Here are five tips for helping students grasp this all-encompassing subject:

  1. Learn to cross-reference. If you come across places, people or words that you’re unfamiliar with then you need to make notes of these words or phrases and look them up in a reputable encyclopedia. It’s one thing to do the assigned reading; it’s another to understand what you’re reading. You will be asked to recall facts, sequences, causes and effects of why and how things happened. By having a firm grasp of the material you’ll be able to put back together the puzzle that is studying history.
  2. Blend secondary and primary sources. Your history textbook is a secondary source and is the interpretation of the author’s view of history. Be sure to consult primary sources that were produced during the actual time of the event you’re studying. This will help you better discern what truly happened.
  3. Review lecture notes. After each lecture examines your notes and mark material as either totally understood or as material you’re unsure of. This way you can approach your instructor and ask for clarification. It’s imperative that you clear up any information you’re unsure about before the curriculum passes you by.
  4. Sift through the facts. As you’re reading through texts and your notes mark down names, dates and places and keep a chart or outline that will put them in an order that makes sense to you. Depending on the era you’re studying you will come across facts that you’re unfamiliar with more so than others and this is a way you can begin to have them make matter to you.
  5. Maps are your friends. The best way to learn about land formations is to draw the map yourself. This way you can better learn the boundaries that surround the area you’re investigating. You’ll get a better idea about where the major cities and ports are and the type of land forms that help shape the area’s history.

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