High School Social Studies Students’ Uses of Online Historical Documents Related to the Cuban Missile Crisis

John K. Lee
Georgia State University

W. Guy Clarke
Cherokee High School


This paper reports on findings of a study conducted to determine the usability and pedagogical qualities of two Cold War-related online collections of historical documents. The study was conducted in three 11th grade U.S. history classes. Data in the form of metacognitive essays written by students as they reflected on their work using the archives as well as interviews with students and classroom observations were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Findings indicated that both online collections were of limited value because of poor design and inadequate pedagogical interfaces. We found that Web sites, which feature historical documents but do not have pedagogy as an integral part of the design of the site, are of limited value in high school social studies classes. Without pedagogical intent in the design, resources are difficult to find, hard to manipulate, and of limited value for students who are doing the kind of closed ended or short-term inquiries that are common in high school social studies.

About the Author(s)...

John Lee is assistant professor of the social studies education at Georgia State University. His research focuses on the pedagogical and theoretical implications of digital history. Dr. Lee is working to develop original digital historical archives and accompanying pedagogical tools for use in teacher training and K-12 settings. He is currently co-editor of the social studies section of the AACE online journal Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. Dr. Lee can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Guy Clarke is Social Studies Department Head and history teacher at Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia. He is also a doctoral student at Georgia State University and Chair of the Library and Archives Committee of the Cherokee County Historical Society. Mr. Clarke's interests are in the teaching and learning of history and the use of digital historical resources. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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