Academic journal article World History Bulletin

Differences between High School U.S. and World History Teachers in Kansas

Academic journal article World History Bulletin

Differences between High School U.S. and World History Teachers in Kansas

Article excerpt


The educational landscape has drastically changed with the enactment of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation a decade ago. Research reveals that social studies instruction has substantially decreased in relation to math and English language arts. (1) In addition, many states have adopted standards and assessments in social studies that typically focus on a student's content knowledge and which assume that instructional practices, content emphasis, notions of citizenship, rational for teaching social studies and professional development is similar amongst social studies teachers. Living in Kansas, which has adopted content focused standards and assessment, we were interested in how U.S. and world high school teachers were similar and different in this regard, particularly since little research has examined how, if at all, these two types of teachers might differ in their classroom habits. For this reason we have analyzed data collected as part of the National Study of the State of Social Studies to determine how Kansas's U.S. and world high school history teachers differ in their instructional practices, content emphasized, rational for teaching social studies, notions of citizenship and education environment. We hope not only to inform history educators, but also to help highlight the importance of history education in an era of NCLB.

Overview of Study

In the Fall of 2010, researchers with the National Study of the State of Social Studies Teachers surveyed K-12 social studies teachers nationwide to gain a sense of their thinking about the state of social studies. They developed survey items to better understand the context in which respondents work, characteristics of class organization and curriculum, instructional practices and social studies concepts, impact of state mandated testing, and professional development needs. Several of the researchers piloted the survey in Spring 2009 in North Carolina and Indiana and then revised and finalized the survey instrument. The survey consisted of Likert-type items, ranking items, select type items, and two open-ended discussion questions. In the Fall of 2009, researchers in each state formed teams that assumed responsibility for establishing a sample population, conducting the survey statewide, and analyzing the data collected. We have worked as the research team for Kansas. Jeff Passe at Towson University, who first envisioned this project and who coordinated efforts in the various states, is overseeing the analysis of the national data.

During the Spring and Summer of 2010 we established a database of emails of Kansas elementary and secondary social studies teachers to complete the online survey. We developed a random-stratified sample based on the school district's size, the students' ethnic makeup and SES level within each district, and whether the teachers' email directory was public. When looking at selected district we chose those teachers that were listed by the Kansas Department of Education as either being credentialed to teach elementary grades or social studies in grades 6-12. In the Fall and Winter of 2010, we invited via email 3,337 elementary teachers and 676 secondary social studies teachers to take the online survey. 423 teachers completed the survey for a total response rate of 10.5%. However, the response rate for secondary teachers was much higher at 21.7% or 147 responses.

Comparison of U.S. & World History Teachers

In answering the questions of how U.S. and world history teachers were different and similar, we decided to focus on three specific areas: 1) instructional activities and content; 2) why social studies was important; and 3) professional development. Of the 147 secondary respondents 77 came from middle schools and 70 came from high schools. The survey only asked respondents at the high school level what specific subjects they taught. Of the 70 high school respondents 57 of those either taught U. …

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