Stanford History Education Group was founded in 2002 when Sam Wineburg moved from the University of Washington to Stanford. Working with Chauncey Monte-Sano and Daisy Martin, Wineburg redesigned how Stanford prepared teachers to face the challenges of urban schooling. Stanford’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) became the incubator for new ideas about teaching students how to read historical texts and think about them in creative ways.
Wineburg’s association with the late Roy Rosenzweig, founder of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, led to SHEG’s foray into digital curriculum with historicalthinkingmatters.org, a site that modeled for students how historians think. In 2008, Historical Thinking Matters was honored by the American Historical Association for the “most outstanding contribution to the teaching of history in any field.”
SHEG’s partnership with George Mason led to the National History Education Clearinghouse, a $7.1 million initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Clearinghouse brought together in a single portal up-to-date resources, best practices, and summaries of research on history learning for America’s teachers.
SHEG’s current directions also have roots in teacher preparation. In 2006, Avishag Reisman and Brad Fogo developed a document-based curriculum on the Civil War for middle school teachers. Reisman expanded the approach in a large-scale intervention in five San Francisco high schools, an effort that resulted in significant gains in student knowledge, historical thinking and reading comprehension. Together, Reisman and Fogo took the seventy-five document-based lessons they developed and posted them on the web. Within the first six months the digital curriculum had over 50,000 downloads.
In 2009, SHEG joined the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources Educational Consortium. As part of this new partnership, Joel Breakstone, Mark Smith, and Sam Wineburg led an effort to create document-based formative assessments for teachers. In the fall of 2012, SHEG launched beyondthebubble.stanford.edu, which provides teachers with a new generation of history assessments that incorporate documents from the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress.
In November 2016, SHEG released a report detailing the results of a national study of students’ ability to evaluate online information. Based on more than seven thousand student responses, the study revealed that students from middle school to college struggled to identify accurate information online. This research gained widespread coverage in major media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME Magazine, the BBC, and scores more. Since then, the SHEG team has developed the Civic Online Reasoning curriculum, tested its efficacy in a district-wide evaluation in Lincoln, Nebraska, and distributed our award-winning materials around the world. In 2023, SHEG spun out of Stanford University to become the Digital Inquiry Group.