Pedagogical Practices of High School Social Studies Teachers

Sandra Gyles, Walden University

Abstract

Students at a small high school in New York City were disengaged in their social studies curriculum, which reflected in their scores on the New York State Regents examinations. The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to understand the perceptions and experiences of a purposefully selected group of social studies teachers regarding their pedagogical practices. Piaget's cognitive constructivism regarding learners' constructed and acquired knowledge provided a theoretical framework for interpretation of findings. Semistructured interviews of 8 social studies teachers were recorded, transcribed, and inductively coded and analyzed. The findings were member checked for credibility and rich thick descriptions indicated that student disengagement and resistance, inclusion of Common Core, teacher evaluation systems, and socioeconomics were intertwined with the teachers' pedagogical practices. The primary recommendation was to reengage, reorganize, and redesign the roles of teachers, students, and curriculum in social studies classrooms. These recommendations align with the cognitive constructivist approach to divert students from simply learning information to creating authentic experiences, allowing for real world applications, and encouraging teachers to create positive and collaborative learning environments. These findings contribute to positive social change by informing educators charged with developing and preparing curriculum, lesson plans, and professional development programs to support evidence-based instructional practices in the social studies classrooms. Thus, students will be motivated to learn various topics in social studies and, as a result, score well on mandated tests.