Writing to Learn History: An Instructional Design Study


  • Lieke Holdinga University of Amsterdam
  • Jannet van Drie University of Amsterdam
  • Tanja Janssen University of Amsterdam
  • Gert Rijlaarsdam University of Amsterdam




disciplinary literacy, historical writing, writing education, instructional design, design study


This study reports on the design and evaluation of an instructional unit, aimed at improving secondary school students’ disciplinary writing in history. Central to this design was the replacement of conventional workbook exercises by evaluative source-based writing tasks which were co-developed with participating history teachers. Additionally, an instructional unit to teach students a discipline-specific reading-thinking-writing strategy based on previous research was designed. Two history teachers implemented the evaluative tasks and the strategy instruction in their 11th grade history classrooms in a trial intervention study with a switching panels design. Pre-, mid-, and post-testing consisted of evaluative writing tasks (ca. 200-300 words), which were analyzed on holistic quality, content quality, quality of structure, and text length. Results showed effects in the second panel for content quality.

In this paper we elaborate on the design of this strategy and the instructional design, as well as the design principles underpinning these. Based on the trial study, we present recommendations for redesign in order to optimize practicality and effectiveness of the instructional unit.




How to Cite

Holdinga, L., van Drie, J., Janssen, T., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2023). Writing to Learn History: An Instructional Design Study. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 23(1), 1–45. https://doi.org/10.21248/l1esll.2023.23.1.526