At a Glance

University of Victoria, Université de Sherbrooke, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto

Improve your historical analysis skills by learning about different types of causes and evidence.

Key Concepts in Historical Thinking

This site, produced by the University of Victoria, the Université de Sherbrooke, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, introduces students to the idea of the "unsolved mystery" that is history. While the focus of the overall project is applying primary source analysis to key events in Canadian history, "Key Concepts in Historical Thinking" provides exercises and ideas which can be applied in any history classroom—from elementary to graduate school—with very little adaptation.

Resources are divided into two sections. The first consists of classroom exercises. Challenge students to consider how their lives might be interpreted in the future in an exercise introducing the idea of the primary source. What documents would exist? Would they be preserved? By whom? Would historians have access to them? What might these documents tell future historians? Additional activities differentiate inferred societal evidence from document testimony and the past from the future.

The second section is intended for educator preparation rather than student activities. Individual sections discuss underlying and direct causation and bias. Note that the court evidence section is based on Canadian common law.