Point of View and Its Importance

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Why is Point of View (POV) Important?

The crucial skill teachers and readers are looking for in a student’s approach to documents is the awareness that documents are not statements of facts, but descriptions, interpretations, or opinions of events and developments made by particular people at particular places and times, and often for specific reasons. Too often, students write essays in which they take the documents at face value. Instead, students should be applying critical thinking skills to documents, evaluation whether they are likely to be accurate and complete, and in what ways the author of the document may be revealing bias.

How can students demonstrate awareness of POV?

The readers of AP European History DBQs look for POV in five distinct ways.

1. Attribution. This is the minimal approach to POV. When students cite the authors of the documents by name or position, they are indicating that they understand that this is a particular person’s expression rather than a statement of fact. Students need to provide consistent attribution throughout their essays, meaning all or most documents should be attributed. Attribution means using the name of the author of a document or something about the author given in the document.

Examples of attribution are:
• John Taylor, an English writer, said...
• A Dominican monk in Florence described...

2. Authorial point of view. Students show awareness that the gender, occupation, class, religion, nationality, political position, or ethnic identity of the author may well have influenced the views that are expressed.

For example:
• Baltasar Rusow, as a Lutheran pastor, was naturally upset by the celebration of a.Saint’s Day since Lutherans don’t venerate saints.

3. Reliability and accuracy of source. Students critically examine a source for its reliability and accuracy by questioning whether the author of the document would be in a position to be accurate and /or would...
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