Wise and Ambitious Social Studies Teaching in Secondary Classrooms in the Age of Accountability and Standards Based Reform

Castillo, Jyoti
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
This dissertation investigated the beliefs and practices of five “wise and ambitious” secondary social studies teachers within the context of accountability. For the purpose of this study “wise and ambitious” teaching is defined as teaching that comprises both a strong knowledge of students as individuals and a strong content and pedagogical base that aims to promote higher level learning and equality within the classroom setting and beyond. These teachers are ambitious in that they practice their beliefs regardless of the demands of administrative, state and federal policy. Results of the study indicate that the teachers were very reflective of their personal history and have a strong understanding of the influences of their family, their identity and their educational and professional experiences on their teaching practice. They also held strong teacher beliefs of teaching and learning that developed overtime through such experiences. These beliefs guided their teacher practice. Their practices demonstrated what research defines as effective social studies teaching. This included hands-on learning activities and critical thinking opportunities involving an examination of multiple perspectives to promote the values of social justice. In addition, this study suggested that high-stakes testing, standards, reform providers or other top down accountability mandates did not deter the participants. Rather, their teacher beliefs were the strongest influence on their practice. Despite lingering accountability movements, these teachers practiced in ways that were consistent with their beliefs that aligned with “wise and ambitious” social studies teaching. Their confidence in their beliefs and practices allowed these teachers to be ambitious because of they believed that effective teaching practices inherently addressed accountability mandates. This study provided recommendations for teacher education and professional development.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
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