Teachers' Opinions on the Use of Social Studies Classrooms in Social Studies Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

For students, the need to fully understand the geographical and historical layout of their societies has grown remarkably in today's dwindling world. Social Studies is one of the programs aiming to meet this need. Innovations in technology have led to searching new ways within Social Studies education, and now it seems highly likely to set up branch special classes at schools. This studyaims to determine teachers' opinions regarding materials and environment to be used in Social Studies classes. Being qualitative in nature, the research has been conducted through semi-structured interviews. The opinions of social studies and classroom teachers have beer investigated via the use of triangulation technigue and maximum variation sampling method. The study has beer analyzed through descriptive methods. The findings have focused on environment, Social Studies classroom at schools, social and physical environment, and using electronic, graphical, three-dimensional, visual and prmtec materials within the classroom.

Key Words

Social Studies, Social Studies Classroom, Environment and Materials for Social Studies Education

Students' need to get to know the world's geographical and historical background has been growing as the world itself has dwindled more and more in recent years. Meeting this need of students' will tremendously contribute to their future efforts in order to make right decisions. Within the scope of Social Studies, which primarily aims to furnish individuals with necessary skills, activities directed to recognizing maps better, questioning the historical events; hence understanding how those events have affected the current life in our world should be conducted (Benscoter & Harris, 2003). Therefore, branch specific classes can be arranged at schools (Martorella, 1998). Being more advanced as opposed to general classroom settings, these classes have been suggested to realize skills and aims outlined in Social Studies instructional program for a long time (Brett, 1996; Martorella). According to Capron and Halley (1972), a Social Studies class can be described as a room where students go during or after school time for Social Studies specific activities. This offers students who are interested in Social Studies a place where they can use their time and energy effectively. The environment and materials inside the class can lessen the load over Social Studies course, and can help students learn more efficiently (Cunningham & Allington, 2003). Technology based learning in the Social Studies class augments students' skills to make decisions, solve problems, search, cooperate and communicate within Social Studies course (Bennett & Scholes, 2001; Mason et al., 2000; Whitworth & Berson, 2003). Being the theoretical background of Social Studies instructional program of 2004, the constructivist approach underpins the importance of student-centered methods. The new program requires that many activities be carried out with specific materials and through various methods (Tarman, 2011). These indicate that Social Studies class is valuable for the new program as well. Literature holds many studies (Acun & Kamber, 2007; Kaya & Ersoy 2007) pointing that the inadequacy of materials at schools endangers constructivist teaching of Social Studies. Built in accordance with classical behaviorist approach and teacher centered perspective, general classrooms make it difficult for students and teachers to adapt the constructivist approach. True for most of general classrooms, this reality contradicts with student centered and constructivist educational activities (Çepni, Bacanak, & Gökdere, 2001; Tarman). In this sense, the Social Studies class can be termed as "a dynamic environment suitable to conduct activities in order to equip individuals with knowledge, skills, and values relevant to the course by means of the materials specific to Social Studies instruction".

Based on Dewey (1916), Friedman and Hicks (2006) have stated that education is the process of rearranging, configuring, and converting. …