Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Susan Koyzis

Abstract

Over the last 20 years, many state school administrators have reduced social studies instructional time in favor of time dedicated to reading or math skills due to the pressure of standardized testing. The purpose of this qualitative case study, which was based on constructivist theories about learning and schema theory, was to analyze teachers' perspectives on teaching history lessons, in terms of engagement and relevance, while working within new time constraints. Purposeful sampling was used to select 6 teachers for interviews; all had experience teaching social studies courses at the upper elementary and middle levels in a public school district that has been influenced over the last 20 years by the pressures of standardized testing. Interview data were coded and analyzed for common themes. The teachers reported that the lack of planning time and instructional time, compounded with students' lack of schema, hampered the delivery of engaging and relevant history lessons based on the tenets of constructivism. The results of the data collection were used to design a professional development program that would allow teachers to work with engaging instructional strategies designed to stimulate situational interest, which would ultimately lead to schema development. This study has implications for positive social change in that school leaders and other stakeholders could use the results to make decisions about the allotment of instructional and preparation time to provide teachers adequate opportunities to design and deliver engaging and relevant history lessons to enhance students' learning.