What Are the Historical Thinking Skills for AP World History?

In AP World History, students are expected to develop and apply historical thinking skills that enable them to analyze and interpret historical events and trends. These skills are essential for success in the course as well as in future academic pursuits. In this article, we will discuss the historical thinking skills for AP World History and how they can be developed.

Contextualization

Contextualization is the ability to understand historical events within their broader context. This involves considering factors such as time, place, and culture that influenced these events. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Identify the time period and location of a particular event.
  • Examine the social, economic, political, and cultural factors that contributed to the event.
  • Analyze how these factors interacted with each other to shape the event.

Example: When studying the French Revolution, students should consider not only the political causes of the revolution but also its social and economic context.

Causation

Causation is the ability to identify and analyze cause-and-effect relationships in history. This involves understanding how one event led to another and what factors contributed to these outcomes. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Identify the causes of a particular event or trend.
  • Analyze how these causes led to specific outcomes or effects.
  • Consider alternative explanations for why an event occurred.

Example: When studying World War I, students should consider not only the immediate cause of the war (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) but also the underlying causes such as nationalism and imperialism.

Continuity and Change Over Time

Continuity and Change Over Time is the ability to analyze how historical events, trends, and ideas have evolved over time. This involves understanding how certain aspects of human society have remained constant while others have changed. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Identify patterns of continuity and change in a particular period or region.
  • Analyze the factors that contributed to these patterns.
  • Consider how these patterns may have influenced later developments in history.

Example: When studying the Industrial Revolution, students should consider how certain aspects of society (such as the use of machinery) changed while others (such as social class structure) remained constant.

Comparison and Contextualization

Comparison is the ability to analyze similarities and differences between historical events, trends, and ideas. This involves understanding how different cultures and societies have developed over time. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Identify similarities and differences between two or more historical events or periods.
  • Analyze how these similarities and differences were shaped by cultural, economic, political, or social factors.
  • Consider the implications of these similarities and differences for broader historical trends.

Example: When studying the Age of Exploration, students should compare the experiences of European explorers with those of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Historical Argumentation

Historical Argumentation is the ability to construct arguments based on historical evidence. This involves analyzing primary and secondary sources to support a particular interpretation of historical events or trends. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Analyze primary sources (such as letters or diaries) to gain insight into historical events or people.
  • Analyze secondary sources (such as textbooks or articles) to gain a broader understanding of historical events or trends.
  • Construct arguments based on a careful analysis of historical evidence.

Example: When studying the role of religion in Ancient Rome, students should analyze primary sources (such as religious texts) and secondary sources (such as scholarly articles) to construct an argument about the importance of religion in Roman society.

Synthesis

Synthesis is the ability to combine information from multiple sources to develop a broader understanding of historical events or trends. This involves analyzing primary and secondary sources to draw connections between different aspects of history. To develop this skill, students should:

  • Analyze primary and secondary sources to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular event or trend.
  • Draw connections between different aspects of history to develop a broader understanding of historical trends.
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources to construct a nuanced interpretation of history.

Example: When studying the impact of the printing press on European society, students should analyze primary sources (such as books printed during this time) and secondary sources (such as scholarly articles) to draw connections between technological innovation and social change.

Conclusion

In conclusion, AP World History requires students to develop a range of historical thinking skills that enable them to analyze and interpret complex historical events and trends. By developing these skills, students can gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities and nuances of human history.