Towards a pedagogical framework for construction of historicity: a case of using Wikis among pre-service teachers at Makerere University

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis originates from the realization that the pedagogy of history is becoming dangerously obsolete, as it does not always relate to the contemporary needs of 21st century learners, who often find learning history irrelevant to their present situation. This challenge is attributed to, among other reasons, the way history is taught employing largely behaviorist pedagogies with significantly reduced active learner engagement and little alignment to the way today's students learn. Gadamer's historical hermeneutic theory was employed to advocate for a dialogical approach between the past (part) and the present (whole) mediated by Emerging Technologies, specifically Wikis. Thus, the study is guided by three research questions: firstly, how is historicity constructed on the Wiki platform among pre-service teachers at Makerere University? Secondly, how is authenticity of history meanings constructed among pre-service teachers? Thirdly, what design principles guide a pedagogical framework for construction of historicity? A Design Based Research Methodology (DBR), with theoretically informed solutions aligned to the study problem, was used among pre-service teachers enrolled at Makerere University, Uganda, for the period 2013-2016. Consequently, four phases of DBR were employed: identification of the problem by the researcher in collaboration with practitioners; development of solutions informed by existing design principles and technological innovation; iterative cycles of testing and refinement of solutions and finally, reflection to produce design principles and enhance solutions (Reeves, 2006). Data from questionnaires, interviews and observations on the Wiki was gathered and analyzed through a hermeneutic cycle-driven analysis during DBR phase three. Key findings demonstrated that historicity is constructed through dialogical engagements between educator/researcher and students mediated on the Wiki. Authenticity of history meanings is achieved through collaborative editing, reviewing and sharing understandings on a Wiki. The practical contribution of this research lies in the creation of design principles (i.e. connecting with the present, appreciating heritage, dialogue in history, doing history, validating history and applying history) and a pedagogical framework to be used for the construction of historicity mediated by Wikis, while the theoretical contribution lies in the methodological approach of using DBR to systematically implement and operationalize historical hermeneutics theoretical constructs in History Education in the Ugandan context.