Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions of and Attitudes towards Social Studies

Social studies, the study of people, places, and events, is generally viewed as less important than STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by the U.S. school systems. Although social studies is a subject that holds an abundance of important disciplines and is interconnected with other subjects, social studies, particularly in elementary grades, is most often overlooked by teachers in their daily lesson planning due to factors such as high-stakes testing, time constraints, and education policies. However, social studies is a part of the elementary curriculum, as well as a subject that pre-service elementary teachers will be, or should be, teaching in their future classrooms. To assist university/college social studies instructors in best serving pre-service teacher students who will be taking social studies content and methods courses, it is important to investigate pre-service elementary teachers’ perceptions and attitudes about the subject of social studies, recognize their positive and negative social studies experiences, and examine what content knowledge they bring with them to social studies education courses. Based on the study’s findings, this presentation will provide first-hand accounts of pre-service elementary teachers’ experiences in social studies, and shed light on which strategies, modes of instruction, activities, teacher action/behaviors, and social studies topics have been successful for students and which have not. The study’s findings will also discuss ways to strengthen the structure of social studies courses and syllabi, inspire pre-service teachers to enjoy teaching social studies, and encourage pre-service teachers to teach social studies in their future classrooms often and meaningfully.

Social Studies, Pre-service Teacher, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Elementary Education

Learning in Higher Education

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Rina Bousalis
    • Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, Teaching and Learning, Florida Atlantic University, United States United States