“Hashtag History” continues conversations from the thematic fields of historical thinking and digital media and learning. Like scholars of historical thinking, I am interested in what it means to “do history.” What principles and processes drive the work of historians? How can we help students develop similar practices for making sense of the past? Alongside digital media and learning researchers, I am also concerned with specific impacts of the digital age on students’ learning. How are technology and the habits encouraged by technology reshaping teaching and learning practices? Together, the two fields form the foundation for investigating the key question of this project: How do social media habits influence students’ approaches to history?
The sections that follow provide an overview and definitions of historical thinking and consider the influence of sociocultural factors on students’ approaches to history. Previous scholarship in the field of historical thinking posits that students’ historical perspectives are shaped by family values, national narratives, popular media, and identity factors. Students bring these influences, as well as their academic experiences, to history classrooms at all levels of their education. In Singapore specifically, the influence of politics and centralized education are especially influential on students’ perceptions of history.
The final segment of the Literature Review takes up the digital age as a powerful sociocultural influence, especially for undergraduate students like the participants in this study. Ubiquitous mobile phones, perpetual access to abundant information, and networked relationships present new challenges and possibilities that scholars from myriad fields are still grappling with.
Most of the studies included in the Literature Review took place in primary and secondary school settings in English-dominant countries. Only a handful of studies address historical thinking in higher education or in Singapore. “Hashtag History” adds to these small bodies of research but does so in dialogue with the existing research focused on younger students in other national contexts.