Course details

Critical Thinking Approaches for Genealogy (344)

Tutor: Sophie Kay

Decisions, decisions. Family history research is full of them: and that is why critical thinking skills are perhaps the most important element of any genealogists toolbox.

In this four-week course, we'll confront the family history research process from start to finish, seeing how critical thinking has a role to play at every turn. We'll bring historical evidence centre-stage and use a range of analysis techniques to guide us towards a considered, thorough research narrative.

Initial stages of the course combine novel approaches such as the Perspective Pyramid for researching at different scales (e.g. individual, family, branch) with core skills such as developing research questions, performing effective searches, and identifying your ancestor from amongst a list of namesakes. We'll gain hands-on experience of the Genealogical Proof Standard, using contextual evidence analysis to think like a historian throughout our family history investigations.

The second half of the course builds on these foundations with a range of critical thinking approaches for genealogists. These include: the Negative Space approach for analysing research gaps, the timebinding method for reconciling the different stages of an ancestors life, and the topping-and-tailing strategy for use with migratory ancestors. Participants will explore cognitive biases and their implications for the structure and outcomes of the research process, and see how mistakes can be used to drive their onward development as a researcher.

This course assumes a basic knowledge of core UK records (civil registration, census, parish registers or equivalents) and will introduce other sources beyond these. Suitable for intermediate-level researchers and upwards, the course content focuses primarily on UK- based research; however, most of the methodologies in the programme are internationally applicable.On completion of the course, participants will be able to:

* formulate an effective research question and adapt it as their investigation develops;
* identify different scales of perspective within their research and employ these to their advantage in shaping a research investigation;
* evaluate critically and combine evidence from multiple sources and discuss whether a given finding meets the burden of proof;* employ a range of Negative Space and family reconstitution techniques to navigate complex research challenges;
* identify areas for potential cognitive bias within their own research and effect approaches to reduce these;
* evaluate and hone their research performance using self-reflective practice.

The course aims not only to develop confidence with the skills and knowledge to carry out good-quality genealogical research, but also to nurture continued onward learning beyond completion of the programme.

Students will have the opportunity to work on their own family history for some of the exercises in the course.

Lesson Headings:
  • * Scaffolding: Skills for initiating and planning your family history.
  • * Building Blocks: Logical approaches to effective searching and research progression.
  • * Mortar: Engaging critical thinking methods for problem solving and brick walls.
  • * Vantage Point: Perspectives and techniques to ensure continued onward development of your research skills.

Each lesson includes lesson notes, activities and forum exercises for students to complete during the week and a one-hour live tutorial (text chat or Zoom) with the tutor and the rest of the class. Times for the tutorials are set at the beginning of each course by the tutor.

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 05 Jun 2023
Cost: £52.00
Course Full

Start Date: 20 Nov 2023
Cost: £52.00

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