As an A-level history student, you soon become aware that history is as much about conceptual thinking as it is concerned with gathering historical knowledge (although the latter usually provides the basis for the former). This article focuses on two ‘second-order’ concepts: change and continuity and similarity and difference. It aims to show how they can be applied to historical problem solving, especially where they form the main assessment objective for particular parts of an exam specification.
Change refers to the shift from one situation to another over a long period of time (which on A-level specifications is deemed to be at least 100 years). The opposite of change is continuity, where little is perceived to alter over a time period. However, the complexity of the concept is only fully appreciated when it is analysed according to the pace, extent, nature and process of change and continuity.
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