Historiography of World History

Document-Based Question (DBQ) Project

Shelley Rose

Project Schedule

  • Week 2: Groups assigned, Launch Website 
  • Week 3: DBQ Topic Due, Add to the Project Directory
  • Week 4: Question/Site Draft Due
  • Week 5: DBQ Due
  • Week 6: Peer Review Activity, Final DBQ due


It is important to connect content and skills when creating assessments. What are the learning objectives for our world history courses? For example, one key learning objective is “Students will understand the steps of historical thinking.”[1] Document-based questions effectively assess the critical thinking skills that comprise historical thinking.

For an overview watch “What is Historical Thinking?”

Teachinghistory.org: What is Historical Thinking? from RRCHNM Teaching and Learning on Vimeo.

Creating a DBQ

Each learning group will construct an original document-based question (DBQ) which will assess students’ ability to think historically using documentary evidence. DBQs are a common component of the Advanced Placement Modern World History Exam. You can find examples of DBQ questions on the College Board website. They are categorized as Free Response questions. Keep the AP course themes and periodization outlined in the AP World History curriculum in mind as you write.

Elements of Historical Thinking according to the College Board AP Curriculum

1. Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence

2. Chronological Reasoning

3. Comparison and Contextualization

4. Historical Interpretation and Synthesis

Question: how does this language compare to the SHEG steps of historical thinking?


Add the published DBQ to the course directory.

Peer Review

Once the DBQ is published, all learning groups will participate in peer review of the questions and content.

Steps for Peer Review

  1. Collaboratively answer the DBQ in a shared document as if you were taking the assessment yourselves. Be sure to share this document with the authors of the DBQ.
  2. Each Learning Group member will post constructive criticism on the DBQ as part of the peer review. Do this in the course discussion forum category “DBQ.”
  3. Access the document with the answer to the DBQ your learning group created. Grade the answer using the AP Rubric. Post your grade for the answer to the class discussion forum as well. Be critical, but fair in your grading; just as you would if this was an answer submitted by high school students.

Grading and Expectations

Groups will be graded on their understanding of the primary sources necessary to construct a DBQ, presentation of the question, peer-review and their use of peer-review feedback to improve the final draft of the question.

DBQ Assignment Rubric for HIS 370/570

  1. Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001

Share This Book