Big History Project Team
Big History is an awesome course! You don’t have to take our word for it, just look at the latest research. We’ve just published this year’s memo, which was drafted by Professor Bob Bain, our partner at the University of Michigan. This report, which we’ve summarized below, looks at student and teacher satisfaction with the course, as well as the impact of the course on student writing.
Each year, hundreds of BHP students submit writing samples at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the course. Similar to the DBQ (document-based question), these assessments are intended to look at student reading, writing, and reasoning abilities. The University of Michigan scores the samples, focusing on use of evidence, reasoning, writing mechanics, and content knowledge. The chart below shows the impressive gains BHP students achieved over the year. Results like these aren’t easy to get, and they reflect the hard work of the teachers and students in the course.
In addition to the student writing submissions, throughout each school year a group of BHP teachers agree to complete a series of surveys to track overall satisfaction with the course. We are greatly encouraged by this year’s results, which indicate that overall teacher satisfaction with the course—with willingness to recommend the course to others—is at nearly 98 percent.
Long-Term Case Studies
This year, we wanted to look at the impact on students two years after completely the Big History course so we asked a researcher to visit schools where Big History Project was at least in its third year. The results were far better than we could have hoped. Based on a series of interviews with former students and their current and former social studies teachers, the researcher observed these trends:
- BHP students report increased engagement with history and science, which suggests changes in their academic trajectories.
- BHP students have a high level of knowledge recall and retention.
- BHP teachers and students reported they used ideas, concepts, and skills learned in BHP in and out of school, suggesting transfer.
- BHP teachers assuming role of lead learner had a positive impact on student engagement.
- Students reported greater interest in and use of BHP skills and concepts in classrooms that employed the BHP conceptual frameworks.
Be sure to check out the full report.
Not yet a Big History teacher? Register for a free account on the Big History Project website to access the entire curriculum.