Exploring how high school social studies teachers think about academic rigor
Jones, Peter Andrew
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This qualitative study examined how four social studies teachers in one suburban high school conceptualized "academic rigor," and how they implemented rigor in their classrooms. Embedded within this purpose was a secondary line of inquiry investigating what the participants thought about rigor in College Preparatory and Honors classes, and how their thinking about rigor played out while implementing instruction in these courses. Using a constructivist lens, methods included interviews, classroom observations, and document analysis to construct meaning about rigor from the perspectives of the participants. The constant comparative method was used to analyze the data, resulting in the emergence of seven themes that cut across all four cases. Two of these themes gave insight about how the participants conceptualized the concept of rigor, while three themes were related to how rigor was implemented. The final two themes highlighted patterns about how the participants perceived the differences between College Preparatory and Honors classes. The findings have implications for both future research and professional practice. Although teachers’ perspectives about academic rigor add to the discussion of this elusive concept, there is a need for more widespread and diverse perspectives. The findings also suggest that school administrators should be aware of teachers’ perceptions about rigor to support teachers and to provide for their professional development needs.