Promoting Historical Inquiry: GATHER Model
Lynne Anderson-Inman, Director, Center For Advanced Technology In Education
Phil Kessinger, Content Coordinator, Web De Anza Project
- 1. (G) Get an overview.
- 2. (A) Ask a probing question.
- 3. (T) Triangulate the data.
- 4. (H) Hypothesize a tentative answer.
- 5. (E) Explore and interpret the data.
- 6. (R) Record and support your conclusions.
1. (G) Get an overview. Historical understanding requires a basic knowledge of the content and the historical context. The student of history cannot ask good questions without some understanding of the facts, people, events, and ideas within which the answer must be found. Furthermore, students need contextual knowledge and perspective of time and place in order to construct sound historical arguments.
2. (A) Ask a probing question. Historical inquiry requires that students ask one or more good questions. Good questions are those that launch an investigation into the data, and require students to analyze the data in order to find an answer. Good questions are therefore probing questions. For example, students' questions might indicate what they want to learn more about, verbalize a problem they are having trouble understanding, identify an issue to resolve, or explore cause and effect over time.
3. (T) Triangulate the data. Historical research requires that students obtain data from multiple sources. At least three types of information can be use: primary sources, secondary sources, and expert opinion (personal consultation). We can envision these sources of information as the three points of a triangle and see the process as "triangulation" . Embedded in the idea of triangulation is that of searching out information from multiple sources and using information from different types of sources. (See above illustration)
4. (H) Hypothesize a tentative answer. A good working hypothesis is an educated guess that provides the basis for further investigation. When students hypothesize answers to their questions, they are making explicit a possible explanation for the facts as they understand them at the moment. A working hypothesis might be an unproved theory, a proposition, a supposition, a tentative explanation for a set of "facts", or a logical sequence for a disputed set of events.
5. (E) Explore and interpret the data. Once a working hypothesis has been generated, the student must continue research to verify whether the original hypothesis holds up under further scrutiny. The students must analyze and synthesize the new information gathered and relate that information back to the hypothesis (interpretation). If the data support the hypothesis, the student can move on to write up and sharing of his/her conclusions (next step). If the data do not support the hypothesis, the student must revise the hypothesis, constructing another tentative answer (previous step) which in turn must be subjected to further scrutiny (this step).
6. (R) Record and support your conclusions. "Real historical inquiry requires that students have an opportunity to create historical narratives and arguments of their own" (National Center for History in the Schools, 1999). These narratives and arguments can take many forms (e.g. reports, essays, debates, editorials, hypermedia presentations) but the underlying purpose is share the conclusions students have drawn from the data they examined and provide evidence that these conclusions have validity.