A phenomenological study of middle school and high school students' perceptions of social studies.
Byford, Jeffrey Murray.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate middle and high school students' perceptions of social studies. Haiadyna and Shaughnessy (1982) contend that three factors had a direct correlation with student attitude. It is a function of (1) the teacher, (2) the learning environment and (3) pre-existing student tendencies including motivation, self-confidence and importance of subject matter. As a continuation of this research theme a phenomenological study was designed to answer the following research question. What are the attitudes of eighth and eleventh grade students toward social studies? To answer this research problem, the following questions were asked: (a) how does teacher interest and enthusiasm affect student attitudes towards social studies? (b) how does teaching methodology effect students' attitudes towards social studies? (c) do the students see any relevance regarding the subject matter of social studies to their present and future lives? (d) what are the concerns or recommendations expressed by students regarding the social studies curriculum and instruction and (e) do the comments and concerns regarding social studies change between middle and high school? The study revealed two themes expressed by both middle and high school students. They are: (1) believe active involvement, teacher enthusiasm, and relevancy of subject matter led to positive images of social studies and (2) the perceived utilitarian value or lack of it is a major factor regarding students' views of social studies. In general, the study found that most students' did not have a negative perception of social studies. The results differ from past studies which found that students had a negative attitude toward social studies.
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