Everywhere you look, lists are being compiled of “top tens”: the top ten songs of 2009, the critics’ top ten favorite books, and so on. As I have attempted to locate my studies in various theoretical and conceptual frameworks, the work of numerous scholars has influenced me. Since what I do is in large part interdisciplinary, I draw from a variety of areas. The following list reflects the areas in which I am currently interested and includes brief biographical and other information about the work of ten scholars most influential for me at present.


Henri Lefebvre

Current position: Deceased (1905-1991)

Major works: The Production of Space (1975/1991)

In The Production of Space, Lefebvre proposed, “(Social) space is a (social) product” (p. 26, emphasis original). The production of space is a constant process. Bodies create space; everyday life creates space. Lefebvre argued that if space is a product, then it must be possible to “reproduce and expound the process of production” (p. 36). Lefebvre’s work influences me as a theoretical framework, through which to think about how space comes to be.

Yi-Fu Tuan

Current position: Emeritus professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Major works: Place, Art, and Self (2004), “Place: An Experiential Perspective” (Geographical Review, 65.2, 1975)

Tuan is a geographer who writes with great philosophical and artistic sensibility about the ways through which people know the world. To move beyond the passive experience of place, Tuan posits, one must develop the senses through forms of art, which provide images of our feelings, through the senses. Historic sites and museums can assist people in opening channels to communal memory and places through direct experience. Tuan inspires me through his discussions of how individuals and communities sense places.


Keith C. Barton

Current position: Professor, School of Education, Indiana University-Bloomington

Major works: Research Methods in Social Studies Education, ed. (2006), “Primary Sources in History: Breaking through the Myths” (Phi Delta Kappan, 86.10, 2005).

Barton’s work centers on history and social studies instruction. He has done interesting studies with elementary school students, to discover how children develop historical consciousness and their beliefs about and abilities to use primary sources. Barton has done some cross-cultural work in this area. I see his work is a model for research designs and inspiration for topic exploration.

Peter J. Lee

Current position: Senior Lecturer, History in Education, Institute of Education, University of London

Major works: History Teaching and Historical Understanding (with A. K. Dickinson, 1978), “Progression in Historical Understanding among Students Ages 7-14” (In P. Seixas, P. Stearns and S. Wineburg, eds., Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History, 2000)

Lee’s theory and research provides a basis for understanding the area of history instruction and historical consciousness. I am interested in his theories about how people develop consciousness of history.

Bruce VanSledright

Current position: Associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland

Major works: Teaching and Learning History in Elementary Schools (with J. Brophy, 1997)

VanSledright’s work is a model for research design. He argues that few studies examine classroom history learning interventions based on recent national reform recommendations. A connection between these needs and new research is necessary. In many of his studies, VanSledright acts as a classroom participant-observer, which gives an authentic quality to his findings.


Robert R. Archibald

Current position: President of the Missouri Historical Museum

Major works: A Place To Remember: Using History to Build Community (1999), The New Town Square: Museums and Communities in Transition (2004)

Archibald’s work discusses how we create shared spaces where individuals can connect with other people and the communal past. In these spaces, museums are more than a place to house artifacts; Archibald envisions museums as places where institutions can reach out and the public can reach in. This concept of the museum as a central, common place suggests the potential of museums to relieve the problem of placelessness in modern society by offering people tangible reminders of the past and gathering places, something he emphasized when I had the opportunity to hear him speak several years ago. Archibald’s main influence on me is his deep, thoughtful ways of examining questions about people’s connections to places.

Hilde S. Hein

Current position: Visiting Scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University

Major works: The Museum in Transition: A Philosophical Perspective (2000), Public Art: Thinking Museums Differently (2006)

Hein amazes me with her ability to explode complex issues and make the reader want to think deeply. In The Museum in Transition, Hein describes how museum object become “museum objects,” through the beliefs and actions of people. Her writing is a model for considering the philosophical side of important topics that often are discussed largely at a surface level.


David Job

Current position: ?

Major works: New Directions in Geographical Fieldwork (1999), Beyond the Bikesheds: Fresh Approaches to Fieldwork (1999)

One of geographer and educator Job’s central arguments in his work is the need to incorporate qualitative research practices and data into students’ fieldwork experiences. Rather than relying strictly on quantitative measuring, the author suggests that students should incorporate “factual enquiry” (objective data) along with “values enquiry” (subjective data). Personal experiences in the field, including sensory experiences and discovery, can lead to factual investigations. Job’s approach to incorporating quantitative and qualitative approaches shows that these two methodologies do not need to be considered competing or exclusive for student instruction. I see his work as example for how to bring both approaches together for learning.


Jere E. Brophy

Current position: Deceased (1940-2009)

Major works: Motivating Students to Learn (2004), Children’s Thinking about Cultural Universals (with J. Alleman, 2006)

Brophy’s work influences me in two areas: first, learner motivation and second, social studies and history-related learning. His writings in social studies education focus on big picture concepts and how important it is to help students use these concepts as frameworks for their learning. Brophy rejected the idea that all K-12 students need to learn to be “little historians” in the classroom, to the exclusion of other methods of learning. Instead, he focused on ways to increase student interest and motivation in learning history by creating opportunities for students to engage with history in multiple ways.

Stella Vosniadou

Current position: Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Athens, Greece

Major works: New Perspectives in Conceptual Change Research (with W. Schnotz & M. Carretero, 1999), International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change, ed. (2008)

Although I am just beginning to read Vosniadou’s work, I get the sense that her work will aid my understanding of conceptual development.


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