On the Fringes and Vague: Elementary Social Studies from Multiple Perspectives

Derek L. Anderson


This paper compares one state’s Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) for elementary social studies with teacher candidates’ definitions of social studies and social studies textbooks.  In order examine the extent  to which each of the four primary subcategories of social studies (history, geography, civics, and economics) are prioritized, four sources of data were used: Michigan’s GLCEs, 190 teacher candidates’ definitions, elementary social studies textbooks, and social studies methods textbooks. Using a fully-mixed, concurrent, equal status mixed methods design (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2009), each of the four data sources revealed dominance toward history within the broader social studies umbrella. Despite Michigan’s mandate that history, geography, civics, and economics receive nearly equal attention in elementary social studies classrooms, economics and civics are underrepresented. With increased attention on standardized test scores and teachers’ salaries tied to those scores, it is imperative that elementary social studies teachers supplement resources in economics and civics.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jse.v1i1.1010


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