Controversial Issues in United States History Classrooms: Teachers' Perspectives
Nichols-Cocke, Cathy Marie
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The purpose of this study was to understand how secondary level United States History teachers approached controversial issues in their standards-based, high-stakes testing classrooms. Controversial issues consisted of multiple points of view, were socially constructed, and had the potential to challenge belief systems. The audience and their perception of a topic determined the degree of controversy. The questions explored were what factors did secondary level United States History teachers identify as influential in creating controversy in their classrooms and how did they introduce what they considered controversial issues into their standards-based, high-stakes testing classrooms? To answer these questions, twelve secondary level teachers who taught 6th, 7th, or 11th grade United States History participated in this study. Information was garnered through interviews of individuals and focus groups. Some participants provided resources used in their lessons and scenarios of their teaching experiences. My principle findings were: • Place played a role in teachers' willingness to incorporate controversial issues into their classrooms. This was due to students' preconceived notions developed by their geographical location and family. • The experiences of teachers and students influenced discussion of controversial issues. This included how long the teacher had taught the content or past experiences with parents and administrators. Students' experiences were derived from their family and community, which influenced incorporation of controversial issues. • Teachers were influenced by the standards they were required to teach. Though some saw these as a restriction in teaching, others used them as a springboard to what they perceived as deeper, meaningful teaching.
- Doctoral Dissertations