In Search of Discussion in the Standards-Based Middle School Social Studies Classroom

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Virginia Tech


The goal of this study was to determine what factors influence teachers in their use of discussion in the social studies classroom. I interviewed two middle school teachers and made classroom observations over a three month period. These teachers believed discussion was an important process for students to gain critical thinking and citizenship skills. These teachers believed they were conducting discussions but in fact were often conducting what Nystrand et al. (2003) termed recitation, in which students respond to questions and the teacher validates the response. The disconnect between belief and practice may be the result of a combination factors, including a lack of teacher facilitation skills, the timing of the research, and the tensions caused by the state curriculum standards.



Discussion, Social Studies, Citizenship, Standards, Middle School