Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)

Department

Education Specialties

First Advisor

Anthony J Annunziato

Second Advisor

Richard Bernato

Third Advisor

Barbara Cozza

Abstract

Research has shown that a majority of students retain information and learn much more effectively through instructional approaches that put them in control. Student-centered approaches to instruction, such as Inquiry-Based and Project-Based Learning are considered to be effective and engaging methods of instruction aimed at increasing student learning. In the K-12 social studies classroom, these types of learning experiences are few and far between. This study analyzes the factors, both internal and external, that social studies instructional leaders believe are inhibiting a more wide-scale implementation of Inquiry-Based and/or Project-Based learning in the classroom. This study looks at instructional leaders in numerous districts in the Northeastern United States. Methods of data collection include one-on-one semi structured interviews. This study reveals the following emerging themes: time constraints, resistant teachers, state mandated curriculum, and state mandated standardized tests all converge to create a system that does not value Inquiry-Based and/or Project-Based Learning. This study finds that the role of the instructional leader is to build trust, to support teachers, and to find pockets of success with this type of learning, especially in areas where the above-mentioned themes are less of an issue in the day-to-day classroom experience. Recommendations include building relationships and trust with teachers and putting less emphasis on standardized testing results. These recommendations will help social studies instructors navigate through some of the barriers to embedding this type of instructional practice in the K-12 Social Studies classroom.

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