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Title:Investigating the influences of social studies methods courses on preservice teachers with a focus on issues of diversity and social justice: three case studies
Author(s):Lee, Jong-Hyun
Director of Research:Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Noffke, Susan E.; Connell, Jeanne; Bishop, Ann Peterson
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Elementary Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):preservice teacher education
social studies methods course
issues of diversity and social justice
Abstract:Abstract Issues of diversity and social justice are critical for teacher education as the student population in the United States becomes increasingly diverse ethnically, racially, socially, and linguistically. It has been traditionally assumed that social studies, more than other curricular areas, should deal with these issues, especially in raising good citizens. A review of the research on social studies methods courses, however, indicates that few studies have examined the impact of social studies methods courses on student teaching practices. This study focused on the impact of social studies methods courses on student teaching, looking particularly at issues of diversity and social justice. The objective of this study was to investigate how preservice teachers who took a social studies methods course in their senior year of a teacher education program incorporated their learning from that course into their 10-week student teaching practicum the following semester. This study examined two research questions: (a) What are the influences of a social studies methods course on preservice teachers’ understandings, especially their perspectives regarding the issues of diversity and social justice? and (b) How do preservice teachers incorporate their learning from the social studies methods course into their student teaching of social studies in schools, especially in addressing issues of diversity and social justice? This study was situated in the social studies methods courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and in the preservice teachers’ 10-week student teaching practicum. The participants were three preservice teachers who were enrolled in the 1-8 teacher education program at the university. The data collected for this study included formal and informal interviews with the participants, observation of the participants’ student teaching classes, and examination of lesson plans and other teaching documents. Based on these data, each iii participant’s learning from social studies methods course and student teaching practices were analyzed as a case study. The findings of this study showed that student teachers are capable of incorporating not only practical teaching methods but also new theoretical concepts learned from methods courses into their social studies student teaching. Thus, these findings suggest that a social studies methods course that includes theoretical concepts and teaching strategies can help students change their previous negative experiences from social studies or develop new understandings. The findings also showed, however, that these student teachers had some difficulties incorporating their new learning from the methods course into their student teaching. Two participants only minimally included issues of diversity and social justice in their lessons, the third participant purposefully articulated these issues in her lesson. This latter participant, who demonstrated the most attention to issues of diversity and social justice, had previous intracultural experiences, but the other two participants did not. Thus, the findings here may suggest some advantage to giving priority to people who have had intercultural experience when recruiting teacher candidates, if we want to be more successful in helping student teachers develop a commitment to teaching for social justice. The findings further suggest the importance of professional development for cooperating teachers, especially related to matters of diversity and social justice. While all three participants in this study stated that they received useful help or support from their cooperating teachers, they also all expressed that they had not received any help in addressing issues of diversity and social justice. This finding suggests that professional development for inservice teachers may be necessary if we want student teachers to better learn to address diversity and social justice during their student teaching practicum. iv In the discussion chapter, I use Wenger’s (1998) concepts of learning, meaning, and social practice to interpret the three participants’ experiences related to the social studies methods course and their student teaching practices. In addition, some suggestions for teacher education programs, particularly related to social studies methods courses and to teaching issues of diversity and social justice, are discussed.
Issue Date:2012-02-06
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29610
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Jong-Hyun Lee
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-02-06
Date Deposited:2011-12


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