Social studies teachers' conceptions of history and pedagogical orientations toward teaching history
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This research study investigated social studies teachers’ conceptions history and pedagogical orientations toward teaching history by drawing on the methods and procedures of the qualitative research tradition. In-depth, semi-structured interviews of 60 to 150 minutes in length were conducted individually with twelve in-service teachers, six male and six female. The participants’ responses were analyzed through the techniques and strategies of inductive qualitative data analysis. Analysis of the teachers’ responses revealed that the majority of the participants’ conceptions of history were characterized by a common-sense understanding of history, i.e., a study of the past events, cultures, and people chronologically. More than half of the teachers looked at the outcome of the process of historical knowledge construction without taking its process into consideration or mentioning the forces that shape historical writing. For instance, they did not recognize the role of subjectivity in historical explanations such as the historian’s frame of reference, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, academic training, etc. As a result, instead of seeing the whole relationship or the interplay among the past, the recorded past, and the historian, they saw a part of the relationship among different aspects of history. For this reason, most participants’ conceptions of history were fragmented, partial, and incomplete. A realist view of the world and a naïve epistemological view of history seemed to characterize the conceptions of most participants who viewed history as objective knowledge. Most participants also did not see the relevancy of intellectual and conceptual foundations of history to their profession and professional development. On the other hand, teachers had sophisticated pedagogical orientations toward teaching history. Teachers’ repertoires of instructional strategies and assessment techniques were rich. Their goals were influenced and shaped greatly by the concept of citizenship. The citizenship goals ranged from the goal of passing cultural heritage on to students to the goal of encouraging students to critically examine that cultural heritage. Teachers’ conceptions of teaching drew on the elements of different theoretical models of teaching and learning.
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