Curriculum Analysis

Analysing Articles

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

Interpreting Cartoons

Responding Personally to Historical Information

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

Listening with Discrimination

Generalizing from Historical Data

Analysing Cause and Effect

The Confederation Debate: A Community Perspective

Generalizing from Historical Data

The development of generalizations is a skill that is foundational to critical and analytical thinking. A generalization describes a relationship between two or more factors or situations. The historian often uses historical data to determine if a set of phenomena is causally related to another set of phenomena.

An intriguing question in the examination of results on the first and second referenda is whether religious groupings help to explain why people voted the way they did. One way to investigate this is to see if denominational data correlates well with referendum results.

The first referendum, conducted on June 3, 1948, concluded with the responsible government being the preferred option, but with a plurality. Commission of Government was the choice for 22, 311 voters (14.32%), Confederation with Canada for 64,066 voters (41.13%), and Responsible Government for 69,400 voters (44.55%). The fight during the first referendum campaign was based largely on economic issues. Confederates argued that confederation would bring improved housing, water and sewer, family allowances, better transportation, more markets for goods, reduced taxation, and increased employment. Of course, those favoring Responsible Government argued otherwise, reminding voters that if the they won, they could then choose independence, economic union with the United States, or even confederation with Canada.

Once it was obvious that a second referendum was necessary, a new campaign began. Commission of Government was dropped from the ballot, and the Confederate and Responsible Government groups vied for the votes of the third group. Although they continued to use economic arguments, another issue soon crept in: namely religious affiliation. During the first referendum, Roman Catholic Districts on the Avalon Peninsula solidly voted for Responsible Government. In some Protestant districts, concern was expressed, particularly by the Orangemen, that Roman Catholics would unduly influence the results of the referendum. This sentiment, often influenced by the Confederate whisper campaign, was a reaction to the stand of key leaders (e.g., Archbishop Roche) in the Roman Catholic Church.

In this lesson, students are required to see if there is a relationship between voting patterns and patterns in Roman Catholic share of the population. Before they begin, you may wish to have them construct a scattergraph to show if there is a direct, indirect or no relationship between two variables: Catholic share of the total district population (independent variable) and the percentage vote in the same district for Reponsible Government (dependent variable). Since a scattergraph gives only a visual impression of the strength of the relationship, a further "test" is necessary. Students are encouraged to use Spearman's rank correlation coefficient to determine the strength of the relationship. If the Roman Catholic vote is the prime causal factor in how people voted, the correlation coefficient would be +1.00 (i.e., the higher the percentage Catholic, the higher the percentage who voted in favor of responsible government). A coefficient of -1.00 would indicate an indirect relationship between the two variables. A value of 0.00 would indicate that there is no relationship.

Outcomes

By engaging in these processes, students will achieve the following outcomes:

Canadian History 1201

  • Examine the part played by key groups.
  • Explain the referendum process and results.
  • Analyse cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Retrieve and categorize information from a variety of sources.
  • Present information through the use of written, oral and graphic presentations.
  • Appreciate history as a product of the interplay among aspirations, personalities, ideals and cultures.
  • The role of informed and rational discussion in the process of hypothesizing and decision-making.

Language Arts

  • Interpret, select, and combine information using a variety of strategies, resources, and technologies.
  • Use a range of strategies to develop effective writing and other ways of representing and to enhance their clarity, precision, and effectiveness.

Mathematics

  • Solve problems involving the collection, display, and analysis of data.

Social Studies Skills

This lesson also promotes the following social studies skills:

Organizing Information

  • Analyse and summarize information.

Evaluating Information

  • Recognize trends and patterns in information.
  • Draw conclusions.

Interpreting Visual Format

  • Interpret relationships shown in graphs and tables and draw related inferences.

Instructional Approach

  1. Provide students with a brief overview of the arguments to which voters were exposed.
  2. Pose the question, " Does a single factor best explain why people voted the way they did in the second referendum?"
  3. Direct students to two sets of data: "Percentage R.C. of Total Population" and "Percentage Voting for Responsible Government in the Second Referendum".
  4. Assign the task of constructing a scattergraph (see format provided in the student activity).
  5. Ask them to describe the relationship between the two variables.
  6. Explain that the strength of the relationship is often difficult to describe using a scattergraph; a mathematical approach is needed.
  7. Assign the task requiring the calculation of the correlation coefficient.
  8. Explain what the result means.

For students who may have difficulty with the analysis of statistics, the following steps are suggested:

  1. Provide students with a brief overview of the arguments to which voters were exposed.
  2. Pose the question, "Does a single factor best explain why people voted the way they did in the second referendum?"
  3. Direct students to two sets of data : "Percentage R.C. of Total Population" and "Percentage Voting for Responsible Government in the Second Referendum".
  4. Direct students to the outline map showing "Electoral Districts for Second Referendum, 1948".
  5. Ask students to shade in each electoral district to indicate percentage Roman Catholic according to the following categories:

    Less than 25%
    25 - 49%
    50 - 74%
    More than 74%

  6. On a second outline map, have students to shade in each district to indicate the percentage of the population who voted for Responsible Government according to the following categories:

    Less than 25%
    25 - 49%
    50 - 74%
    More than 74%

  7. Ask students to compare the two maps.
  8. Conduct a discussion to develop a group response to the focus question in step 2.


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