A level History: Which factors motivate teachers' unit and topic choices?
The flexibility inherent in A level History qualifications means that teachers have to negotiate competing factors that may influence topic, unit or qualification choices. The present article aimed to use questionnaire data derived from heads of History departments to analyse the motivations underpinning the unit and topic choices for an A level History course. A second aim was to analyse whether the Heads of Department from different school types had different influences underlying their choices.
The two most common motivating factors underlying teachers’ choices of units and topics were found to be teacher expertise and perceived student engagement. Fisher’s Exact analyses revealed that these motivations were deemed significantly more important by state school teachers, compared to independent school teachers, in guiding their topic selections (both p < .05). There were also statistically significant differences between school types in terms of how their Heads of Department rated the importance of the curriculum support offered via different resources.
These findings are discussed with reference to the recent qualifications reform in the UK, and the role of the teacher in determining topic choice and delivery of history.