Mapping the Transformation of Information into Knowledge in Early Modern Florence

Using the DECIMA Project to Assess Historical Thinking Skills

  • Jennifer Mara DeSilva Ball State University
Keywords: disciplinary concepts, geographic information systems, Florence, census data, DECIMA Project

Abstract

The recent use of geographic information systems (GIS) to visualize large historical datasets are particularly useful to History instructors who seek real-world platforms that support an open-ended investigation of past societies. The University of Toronto’s DECIMA Project (Digitally Encoded Census and Information Mapping Archive) presents an open-access platform through which anyone can explore census material collected in early modern Florence. This article explores how senior undergraduate students used the DECIMA Project to construct research-based learning assignments that they developed independently. A rubric assessed the resulting student work in order to evaluate several cognitive abilities that students employed during their method design, data analysis, and the contextualization of conclusions. The assignment also drew on central History disciplinary concepts (articulating a question, constructing an argument, evaluating sources, and discerning challenges to the narrative), while introducing students to 'real Florentines.' 

Published
2020-05-13
How to Cite
DeSilva, Jennifer Mara. 2020. “Mapping the Transformation of Information into Knowledge in Early Modern Florence: Using the DECIMA Project to Assess Historical Thinking Skills”. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods 45 (1):2-31. https://doi.org/10.33043/TH.45.1.2-31.
Section
Articles