What should history teachers know? Assessing history students authentically at the conclusion of the PGCE year.
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For many years the author has concluded a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) History Education course by choice with a formal written examination (albeit an unusual one – it doesn’t have a time limit, for instance). When somewhat bemused students each year ask “Why?”, the answer given is so that they will be assessed while working completely on their own under similar pressure to that which they will experience when preparing material for the classroom the following year. The article provides illustrations of the examination and students’ answers. It considers how student teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge may be assessed in history, how the knowledge and understanding of history may be assessed together with core history teaching abilities, and the interaction of history skills and content. It raises, also, issues of formative and summative assessment and lower and higher order thinking, and poses questions about testing the knowledge of in-service teachers.