Play as a technique for history in Higher Education

Pat Cullum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper will explore the use of ‘play’ and ‘playfulness’ as a technique in teaching, learning and assessment of undergraduate History, drawing on the author’s own, and others’, experience. The focus will be on low tech and no tech approaches particularly focused on the use of Lego. Play can reduce anxiety thus allowing students to avoid being frozen by the fear of getting things wrong, while also developing abstraction, conceptualisation and planning skills. It enables students to understand the motivations or constraints of historical actors, or the implicit rules of genre in primary sources. Playful activities and assessments encourage engagement and allow students to bring their creativity and imagination to bear on their own learning. While playful approaches may be criticised as insufficiently serious (for an intellectually demanding discipline such as History), they can facilitate a deeper learning than some more conventional teaching and assessment because pleasurable activities are likely to be engaged in for longer and with greater attention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistoria Ludens
Subtitle of host publicationThe Playing Historian
EditorsAlexander von Lünen, Katherine J. Lewis, Benjamin Litherland, Pat Cullum
Place of PublicationNew York & Abingdon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429345616
ISBN (Print)9780367363864
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Approaches to History


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