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Rwhin

SocialStudiesEducation
ROITALD L VrnSlCKLE,

EDITOR

BOARD OF ADVISORS
Ran ld L V.nslcL||,
Ltni/erety ot GeoQffi
.Alhrts' Georgiit

Edilor

Allrn Ghttr
tnnErstty oi MinnsotB
MnneaDt is. Mifylesote

Why Kids Don't Like


Social Studies
MARX C. SCHUG, EOBERT J. TODD AIUD R. BEERY

C.rilr
8. lllG rrr.
Narry Fht?rFfire Dpatttnen! oi EclJcalon
(b?Esd, lbw fi8tttFBhie
Surrnae W. tldbrm
Llnit'dty ol Cc$orlclo
Donw, Cdcndo
RoalE Hal'||r: .
Fairnon! Frn ScrFoi
t(6$grng. Ohro
Crtrot,Hrquia
Msnte Mstb liigh Scltool
f,laNte, Cdiioma
G.oryG L fi.htft'.
Es$6rn l{ew Medco ijniYwsrtY
Falrtales. Ne|r trrigo
En$y il.hrilr
Aubum tj.rendtv
.{ubum, Alaba,ru
Fonrttl Pril
Marylend St8ts D@anrnont ol Educatioi
Ealtimo.e, Ma4/bna
Xllhrtn
P, Scotr
Florida Slele ttthtntiy
Tdiahdrsor, FltiL
3re
D.s''$lh
U?tv|rtt ot Circinnali
Oncinnati, O.ir|o
Victor A. $f|l|'|
hdlane D6patlrnent ot Pdblh lnslruction
hdiaiupctis. lndiana
Willi.m Tmklr?
Gwnntt Canra High S.,!rool
Lasncvi[e, Geo?gb
.tu.lnh woo.Lt
New Yotk State Ed.tcaton D@snmenl
Albsny, tlevt Yotfi

382

SOCIAL EDUCATION/MaY1984

'!ce

had a farrnerthingithe cxher da-v'


V'e got into .vndl groups and lrad to
find our what kind of crops 1uu
*-antedand then lrru could $:ll them.
. . tlrat cns kind of fun, I think whar
Lshrring is *hen day after de-vlou
have ro sir and rs"adand r,eadand rcad.
-Ststb-gmde student
[n industri:a.lartsl fm consant$ doing
somerhinp I'm not iu.s sicing at a
desk, you know? I'rn up and about acrually *orking. Sining down just,geu
to me. I get tirct of thnt after a period
t,
of dme.
-- Tu'elftb'grade sude n t

TUDE!{TS FREQT'ENTLYare not

positive about rheir social


studiesenperiences.Even
mrrre alarming are studies showing
that young people dtr nu feel so.
is a panicularly valu'
cial .studie.s
able or interestingpan of the
school currin:lum. It is apprarent
that if social studies'is perceived
by y'oungpeople asnot being
vzluable,rhen learning social stud'
ies rvill be adyerseli'affesed. lfith
irlarh C. Scbug is ilsr;Lttant hofessor at
tbe Unit ersi4, of lfkcortsin -. lllillltau.
hee. Robert J. Tivtcl is arr. Elenentanl
Teacher it Rothester htblic Schtwk,
Iltinnesota. R lleent et .Socru/ Stuclies
Cowdtant frtr Roclu:ster hthlic
Sclxnls, Itlimnexfia.
:
Tbe autbr>n u.ish rc banh C..lean Birkca^, utbo wvrbed a,s ttx: graduare 4$a.
tatt orr this sntdy.
:

los' levelsof cMc literacyand the


app:rent lack of public c6diderrce
in the quzlir.vof social srudies
rnching (Gallup, lgEl), ii is increasingly ursent that xrial studies educatorspay artention to wlxrt
-Youngpeople, as well as otlrers,
rnight be able to tell us abor,n .
'ws's tJ irnprole rhe social studies,
ploram.
Relatcd nesearcfr
There have been a varieryof
srudieswhich tnve found that xr
cial studiesis not perceivedby srudenu as being among their hw:rite or most inbresting subiects.
Tlre .fcreaceEducatiott Dantnok
(1980) reponed that three percent
of nine-1ear-sldsrudentsnamed
social studiesas their favoritesub.
iect compared to dB percent for
mathernaricssnd ?{ percent fcrr
languagearus.lltrineen percent of
studeotsaged 13 and 17 reported
social studies was their favorite
subject.Shaveret aL (1979) re[x)rt
sirnilar resuksin their reviewof
three NationalScienceFoundadon
studies,F'nser(1981),usinga semantic differenrialwith Austnlian
srudenss,founclthat sruclentanitudes toward -sncialstudiesbecame
increasinglynegativer!'ith increas.
ing grade level in grades7-10.
Fernandezet al. (.1976)concludecl
that high school studenlsbeliered
social studies was less imponant
than rnathematiqsand Englishtor
their fi.rtureoccupalions.A reexamination of the datafrom the Fer.

-47 -

clle.sizecities and had made sPe'


nandez study (rar.man et al' 1978)
cial efors to imProle the Social
strengphenedthe casethat futurc
studiesPrograrnat severalgrade
-t ei is a strong deternrinant of
levels over a sPanof manYYears',
how innporuurrstudenusbelieve ir
!?e also decided tlrar the cost ol
i.rito li;n a subject suclr as social
collecting, ranscribing, an{ anr-al1zstudies. An earlier stud-vby Curry
ins inter;e*'data meant tlrat the
and Hughes (1965) askedover 9oo
samotesize would be limited' The
in
eleventh-graclestudentsm nnk
o"nicio"ns in the stuclYscre 46
order of preferencethe firc re'
i;ruaens in rstr schoolswho were
auired stibiec,sin rheir high
randomly selected from their so'
so'
school. tn the overall nnking,
cial srudies classeri.Twenty-three
cial studies ranked founh frorn rhe
xudens were selected fnrm grade
bottorn, followed bY mathematics'
6 arrld73studentsfrom grade 1?'
and
Phraicai education,English.
Fifw-rwo Percentwere malesand
scilnce each racd higher. A simi+a
- percent were females'
lar poor showing for social srudies
t'he ints'rview pnxocol ctxxisted
stuwas found emong elerneruaqv
six main questions*'hich a'
of
cientsby Greenblan (1962). Re'
to Piobe student;thinking
tempted
in
cently, ihere has been intetest
lxPeriences in strcial
their
atxrw
understanding
devel'oping,a
-facrorsclearer
The ftrllowing are
clalses.
snrdies
which in0uencestuof the
were,aslred'
que*ions
which
the
stud'
dent anitudes-tor*zrd social
is the most
think
.
V'hat
do
vou
ies. Haladynaer a/. (1982) ha-1 i
studYin
subiecr
impoflant
-vou
established a theoretical model
'
'
\?hY?
school?
whicb
baserJtln .substantiyedata
r Vtrat is'your favorite.subiectin
identifieskey variables'which'he'lp'
school? Isast frrorite? l!fltl-v?
shagrestudc'nt thinking about sor \?hen 1ou think about the social
cial studies.
studies ciasses)tou've takio' *fiat '
arsorne things You think are in'
Metbod
teresting?\7hY?
,
The PurPoseof our studYwx; to
.
v+r.r"tt*'.to*e thing in social
manopen'ended
an
in
investigate
srudies classeswhich are not inter'
t er *liot elemenur-v and second' estine?lifhy?
ary srudetts think about lsPectscf
. sa;iier you sratedthat {mathl was
the social srudiescurricrrlumand
vour favorite subiect.v'hzt is there
to rrenenttesome ide'asfor further
ibout tmathl*st nukes it more
reslurch. The studiesdone Preti'
interesti-n-gto 1ou than *re social
ousl-veach had aPProachedthe
srudies classesYou'vt: taken?Whf
quesproblern bY using wrinen
.
r
tf you ccluld rcll teachershow
iionnzires i"a ni,t focusedlargely
lo imProve social studies'
best
\ile
felt that
on secondary stuclenu.
:
what
would You saf
doinc inteniews s'ith boft eleintewiews
the
from
dau
The
menLry' and secondarystudents.
were transcribed' Two readersin'
would lietd a more comP.lerePicdependenttycoded the dau uiing
ture of what studentsrhinli about
coie fornrs-delelopedfor the proistr-rdies.
srru.^ial
ect, Differencesbeween the read'
lJ(redecicled ilrat we *'ould like
and a consen'
ers were dlscus-sed
to get a "best cs-se"look at student
the coding of
on
reached
was
sus
rhinking ahroutsocial studie.s'A
all sudent resPonses.The dau
Midwest rchool disuict $as sewere annllz.edprimarilylry simple
lectecl as the site tor the study befrequencl disributions' In adciicause it was similar to manYntid'

tion, one-seYanallaisof variance


was used m test stztistically
whether the rrerage reqrcnses of
the *udents were sig;nificanttydif'
ferent hom each other bY grade'fhls form of analYsis
was consid'
ere.<lapprupriatebecauseof our
primary lnfgresr in the single hctor
of grade.
ResulE 'nd Dlscussion
The percenugcs of srudent rcsrxrnsesconcerning s'hat subiects
thev consider to tre mct important
are giren in Table 1. Fnglish,
rnadrematis, and n:ading were
ranked ahqadof sr.rial snrdies and
science. Studens were very firm in
their reasonsabout r+*rysorne zub'
iecrs were more imPcrrunt ttun
others. Forryeight Percent of dte
' srudents,with an errn sPlit be'
rween elementaryand secon*ery
students,said the reason for their
choice was basedon funrre ca'reers.One elemenurl'sudent felt
English nas iruPrnant because
"vou have to know cenain things

Percsnlage of Selected
Tablc l'
Student ResPonses Regarding
Which School Subiects Are Most
lmponant and SuPPoning Reason's'
Most l[tPofiast

Subicct

English
Mathematics
Reading
Social Srudies
Science

3r%
!0x'
20%
t7%
ll%

Rcrsons for lmPorance


CareerPrePantion
Ufe skills
Enioyable
Otber

48%
37%
119t
7%

. Thr intewiew f(rrmlt usrd io this sludl


enablcd rhe scudens to hm muhiple
fesporlscs. Thcteforc, rhl perceouges t?poned
in ihis tod several othct tablcs in this $tudy
dcr oot:lwrys lot l to 100 Pcftent

May 1984/SOCIAL EDUCATION

383

-49-

Tablc 2 Percentage of Selecred


ibout how to wrirc business lencrs
Student ResPonsesRegarding
inwtrcn 1ou get older, if You're
Their Favorire Subiect and
rolred in business."Another ele'
Supponing Reesons.
mencry snrdent commented that
favodtc Subiect
mathematicsuas imPorant be.
cause "in most iobs You haw to
]0%
Mathematics
i
do a licle bit of marh." ManYseczz'x
English
,
I
t3%
ondar). sbrdenr shared tbe same
Social Studies
:
l1%
sentiments as the elementary stlil'
Science
t1%
A
N
:
deras but wre more Precise in
7%
Ans
:
one
Industrial
exarnPle,
their n:sponses.For
7%
Reading
i
s'enior said m*hematics was mosil
"I
i
impnrtant because plan to mtior
Rcasons for Fav-odte'
in engineering,"w*tile another
:
"I
chose biotqgy because want to
57%
tsniolable
l
go into the rnedical Profesion."
l0%
Goodar it
:
:Nes' learldng
za%
Nearly two-fifth-cof rhe sr.rdents
l
7%
Challenging
felt their zubieu choice was iml
them
provided
portant becau-seit
with skills s*tich would be irngrrtant in their furure lives. Reading
One implication of student
and writing skills were most frethinking about the inaportanceof
querrtly nrintioned- A r$c,d elesocial studies is that rne do not do
menury srudent rasporlsertr"s that
a lery good job of cr:mmunicaring
l
because
*zs
imponanr
rea&ng
"1touuse it all througtr your life
r*'try social $qdies hnowledge and
pkills ar,eveluable.More care
that"'
korn
a
lot
aira pu can lt:rm
'needsto be aken to,tell students
Similarly, a secondary student
rr*ry social studiesis,irnponant.
mmmented that English a?s innThis might be done bY Providing
porurff because'^it deals with
studentswith srore community'
communicatios and PreParesYou
based '^real*rrrld" @edences
fgr life."
which can help studenrs learn for
SenenteenPercnt oJ the stu'
rhemselvesthe irnponance of
denLschose social studies as their
being an active cirizen.
stuThese
most imtx)ruru -subiect.
Tables2 and 3 rl?on.student re'
dents slrared the reasoning of
regarding which schrxrl
sporl$es
other snrdentsthat a subiect is im'
they felt were their favor'
zub;ecs
and
skills
*re
portant becauseof
ite and least furaorite.'Social studies
knowledge it provides ftrr rhe fu'
did not rank hlgh as;a favorite subture. Ilorl'ever, 13 Percent of the
ttut
hinted
iect, but neither was,it frequently
high school sudents
rnendonedas a lc-ast'favorite.ln
sr:cial studies rtzs important beboth
cases,English urd rnathemattzu-seof iu enrPhasison cidzenics mnked higher than social stud'
ship edutrtion. For examPle, one
ies. The comments made b1'stusenior felt that social studies was
'!ou ltram
dens wfio ranked social studies as
imporBff because
a favorite or least favtrrite differed
about dte srateand errery'thingin
littJe from what studentssaiclabout
genenrl . . for elections and stuff.
other courses.Reasonssrudents
Snrtrpu need to knou'when,vou
preferred some subjects were that
gron'up." Another senior exthe courseswere eniolable or stu'
pressed his thinking about govern"l
"You can
dentswere .successfiilin them.
ment coursstry safing,
"I
guess
because
like to read" and
see behind the scenes of everl'
I'm good at it" wereitypical rerhing instead of ius hearing it on
Reasonsgrlen for whY
sponses.
think
can
the radio; and then )'ou
some courses*'ere least favorite
back, "Well, I learned *r,at back in
usually referred ro rhe difficulry of
twelfth grade, .soI know *trat
the subiect or a dislike rrf tlre subthey're doing."'
384

-50-

SOCIAL EDUCATION/MaY19&4

tablc 3 Prcentagt ot selected


Srudent ResPonsesRegarding
Vhich School Subiects Are
Their Least Favorite, and
Supporting Reasons.
Lcast Fevorltc Scbfcct
Mathcmatics
English
Sociat Studies
Science
Music
Other
Rcesons fc

339f'
24%
r5%
15%
7%
3%

Lcast Favorlte

Di6culr subiect
Dislike rhe subies maner
No purpose;'boring
Dislikc teaching methods

50%
2'296
20%
15%

ject mffter. "It's hard ficr me to


learn *re concePE:tor'"P::don't
likel,going through the nouns and
prepasitions-iust barning all the
rules""wett cbaracrerisric
commenf,s.
It appears'chatsocial studies Ls
not perceirredas being a partictt'
larly eniolzble subiect, it is seldorn
"irnlnrtang" and it
rnentioned as
is not ccrnsideredes:peciallydifficult. Sinceandcipaiedcareerfu'
tures appar to harc an effect on
anitudes rosrardcoursesand since
few careersare directly related to
socid studies,thlt mav contribute
to an unenthusiasticresgronseto
social srudies. Funhennore, the
finding that srudentsdo not feel
suongly one sty or the other
leads us to the dlsaPPointingconclusion that snrdentsmav be indif'
ferent in their attinrdetoward so"
cial studies.An altematire explana'
tion is that ttre studentssimply did
not want to tell the intervieners
direc.tly that *rey were stronglY
negadvein rheir anitude torlard
srrcial studies.
In order to further exa.minesrudent interslts in snrial srudies,the
particirranB were askeclwlrat it sas
that they found to be interexing
abnut social studies coursesthey
had uken. The student responses
were analyz.edin twrr nay;. First,
dre respt:nseswere divided inrc

Tahle 4

Stutjent ResponsesAbour lnreresting Social SrudiesContent by Grade


Sirtls(;rad(

Study of the past


Stud-vof other cultures
Study of llortmmnt
Stud-vof human bchavior
Devetopmentof human civilizadons

61
54
28
2
9

48
35
13
3
-

Tu :t lj t b 4i r a d e Srt{dsrttj

StudertB

.56
.48
.56
.21

u.96
1.70
3.30
,:

t5
19
l5
24
9

,q.t

.)u
.:.{
.t)

.39

2.30
1.40
5.?6
2.5
1 1 ?

I8.20.. I

{.5.
.0 t-

7.53'.
463.

'F < .ol


"
P <.ol
o.e p <.00r

r$'o Eirc)ups-(:nedealing with


cornrnenrsrelating to social srudies
content and the othc'r to teaching
metbods. Eighrl.seven grrcent of
tlre studenrs' comnoentsfoc-used
on social studiescontent and 13
percent mentioned teachingnrethods. This Snding might be explairred in tryo ways. First, it maY
mean *rat the eaching methods
used in social studies classesdiffer
little from the methods ursedin
<rther courses.tlrhen $udenLswere
irsked to distinguish berween so'
cial studies and other courses.th
main differencethey sas'r*as in
the qpe of subiecrmatter in'
volwd. A second way to interPret
the students'emphasison social
studies content might be relatedto
social studies instruction. \&hen
students reffecred upon ilreir social
srucliesclanses,they were unable
to re.callquickly significantleam'
ing experienceslike a 6eld aiP,
simulation game;trr a classdiscus.sion of a contro\r$ial issue.lnspad, *re student rememhrered
only tJrregeneral type of subieo
fiurner that sres col'ered.
The ne>nstep in anallzing the
student responsesabout u'hat thel'
found imerestingabout socid stud'
ies inrrolvedmking a closer look at
the qpe of content they feh was
most inEresdng. One-wayanalyses
of rariance te'stswere perforrned
on the rype of conteil students
mentioned by grade lerrel.\(hile
the srudenrcwere nearly evenly divided in dreir irrteresrin govemmenta some grade diferences did

ernergein other subjectareasas


reported in Table +. For examPle,
$e sixth.gade studentsmentioned
*udying hixoqv as an interest
rnore rhan did the **5i6,gade
snrdents.Tyrical commenls of the
were the
sixth grade.srudents
follox'ing:
.
In fifrh gradewe sudied the Depression.SorneimesI lilcero frndout q'h.et
ther did a long time agro.
I like leaming about Christopher Co'
lurnbus and rhe lrrdians-his .sailing
around the wotld md hnding out the
wrrrld *'as nrund.

The elernenur]' strrdents alscl


mentioned the study of other cultures u$ being an area of interest
to thern. As some of the,follo*tng
(;uote^.;indicate, tbe sixth-grade
students somedmes referred to the
study of other cultures in an his'
torical conte'rt.
tn third grade vrt alke.d about trihres
and different people. . . lfs ranll-virttercrting to leam about diferent pecr
ple wtro clo diferent thingg for differ'
em reasonsand compare thern to us
and sc-sq/hat culrure 1'ou like trest.
lau year I liked social nudies because
I lgamed ahout cr.rlturcsand snrff.
ttobablv the funnestthing I like about
{this yearj was studying'aboutlndian-s
in Minnesrxa.
The gpaclerwelve student-sdif.
fered from the grude six studens
in their responses about hurnan
behavior and the developrnenr of

human civilizadons.The comrnentsof some seniors indicate'rl


rhat they had uken courses in anrhropology, sociology, or pqrchology and apparentlv found these
coursesto be quite interesting.
The follo*'ing are some of their
commenls:
it'.sreally
I likedrnthropolog-r'because

intere*ing. Wbo knosn if thooe skeletons serc reall-vpeople? lt *rluld bc


tre{ to knorl qttcre we cnDe frorn or
vr'lut.

I liked pslcholog:t . . . [or a wide varier1 of things {such asj ho*- pcople
rhink and **r,at ecnrally hagrpeos.The
rrz-vpeople don't knoq' dw they are
doing rhinp.
I lihed sociologyand hox'tlre poople
reacredin a cro*'d. You kno*', it's a
lor differcnt when rhey act alone. I
thought tha qz-spreny interesting.
Ir's dificult to knorx'hou'to siplain the grade lerrel diferencesi in
the studenus' comrnents about
u'hat they founcl ro be itrteresting
about social stu<lies. One interpretation might be that elementary
.studentsfind the study of historyand of other cuhures to be of particular interest while the secondary
studencs are more interested in
srud.ving abour human behcrior
and development. A seconcl, and
more likely, explanation is that the
studenrs vrcre reflecting whut they
found to be intersting about the
curent curriculurn and com.
mented on those interests.
May1984/SOCIAL
EDUCATION 385

-51-

The snr<ientswere also asked


about what theY found to be unin'
teresting in soiial studies. Table 5
surnararizesthe student responses'
l'he mosr frequenr studeot comment w:ls that social studies was
boring. Most often, boredom was
anributed to soc'rd studies content,
but teaching meftods wc"realso
mentioned. The follorving are
siomecharacrerisdcresPonses'
"[I
studenh didnt lilteJ
Si:ub-gracle
wort<ingwith the governmentarrdancient tlings. Fir$tof dl' phetcachgl

talks a lot about ir There isn't rnuclt


work Evcry dary'1ouknour 1'nu're
golng to barresocial studies and iust sit
there.''
Ts'elfth.grade'oudent: lYell' it got
boring.$rhea yn'u are memolizing date
a&tr &re,,rume after namc, Pn-rsidenr
aher pr,esident-thar q4te rrf thing. lt
gecra llttle redious after aw'hile."
Another frcquenr resPxrnse hadto do with rePetirion in the social
shrlies progpim. Nc.arly ong-!fth
of the'dtdenrs comrnented that
thev were not inerested in rePeating'information theY had learned
earlier. For erramPle, one si:rthgrade studeu said:
Vhet we studied the Native Arnericans
. . s-e wre .studYingabout one Part;
and therr tlre nerc one v,:ls klnd of like
going orcr the same thing agin'
Similar feelings were enPressed
by a twelfth-grade snrdent:
I didn't like [social sudies] in the sev'
enrh and eighth grades . . , betzuse
mosr of the-snrf then yor do olnerand
over again. tt seeros like pu uke it in
Oe serrenthgrade; it's the same stuff in
the eighah gracleand ninth grade-and
it's dl *rc same.
O*rer snrdent comments nren'
tioned a rariery of dificuldes with
social srudies. Sixteen Percent
complained thet social studies con'
"complicated" or
tent w:rs too
'(hard'! orlprs feh that theY sPent
too much time leaming trivi?l de'
tails, memorizing facts, ot ertperi'
encing routine, predicuble rach3sE AOdAL EDUGATION/MaY'1e84

-52-

Tablc 5 Percenuge of Selected $udem Respon'sesRegarding


!(rhat Is Unineresting About Scrial Srudies'
Boring
|,
Redundant subiect tflaner
Complex subieo tnanet
Di6cult tests
Routine teaching merhodg
Dislike of history :
Memorization of frcts
Emphasison trivial denils
Subiea marer is easilYforgouen

44Yo
I8%
t6%
t5%
l3%

r3%
l5%
t?%
7%

Tablc 6 Percenuge of Selecred Student ResponsesConcerning \t'try


Their Favorite Gourselfias More lnrerestiog Than Social Studies'
More opponr.rnityfor active learning (erperimerus, adinities,
35%
indepenclentwofk)
3096
Successfulin the subject
17Vo
Morc rariery in the subiec't
il%
creative
imaginative'
0o
be
More opportuniry
1196
tnformation is of isrmediate use
7'X
Applies to future clreer
jX'
Challenging subiect
"

ing merlrods.Tlpical resPonss


"'we
about routine methods wer,
iust ulce notes,,talGre$ts;and
qntch the ner*s," or l'It l*as jusr
read the chapter, do a worlsheet'
uke the tesl"
The cornmrrrl< of srudents about
what *ns not ideresting in social
studies reafrrms manY of the concems expressedry PeoPle ih the
fuld for several years.ClearlY,
many *udents find social studie$
content to be unineresting becausethe information is rco hr
removed from their own erPeri'
ences,too deteiled for clear under'
*anding, or repea6 informadon
leamed eadier. As Part of their
comments about content some stu'
dents mentioned spe-ci6allY the
leck of Yarieff in social
: studies
reachingme*rods.
\?e thought it would be useful
to ask students about whY their h'
rorite course, **ren it was not socid sudies, was of greater inrerest
to then than was social srudies.
Table 6 reports several of the rypes
of comments made by the stu'
denrs. Over half of the srudents
felt thar their hvorite subfeo was
more interesting becauseit Provided more opponunities fcn acriv'
ides and for ppeater,varietY.The
following are some:chancteristic
student comments: :
Sifrh-gradestudent:"l guessbesuse
tin mathltlere's differentthingsto do.
You cantimes;-vour:anPlus.. . ."

"ln socid snrdies


Sinh-grade sudenq
yor.lm<lsrlystay on a subiec [o a long ,
Ome,titce a mcrnth or two mondr.s;br*
in reading )tou c:ur do wndrshiets,anrtr
rhcn you haw different $torics to srudy
and *uf like $tat-about:tliffersrt
thinp."
Twelfth.gatte student:'jln :ssciSlstudies clas you're sining inside a lot, di3.
gng in trooks. ln boniculturc 1ou're
outside. doing dre thingp that lur'rc
leaming. I feel I leam a lc more hry
doing rhaq by erqrerience,you kno*'."
"l like the
Tvelfth-grade snrdenr
problem.solving &sPect[of matbj. In
sncial studies the idtas are all thete
and you are leaming them. il{ath is
more of a subic<rwhere 1ou'rregcx a
problem in front of you and you'rc lig'
uring out the answen."
"[In socid stud'
Trvelfth-gradestudenu'
iesl ft scems to me like you're ainzyrs
nremorizing all rhese difercnt drings.
In madr, )eu are doing morc things
wittr them."
Nearly one-third rf *re studenrs
felt *rat being successful in their
favorite c.cxrrsewas the nuin rea'
son they prefered it to social stud"I'm bener in math," or "I get
ie.s.
bener grades in English" were rlT''
ical responses. Anottrer set of stu'
dent comrnents mentioned a de"ln
sire to do mclre crgative wrrrk
unitin$,
write
creathe
lrou c:rn
what y'ou feel like and use your
"I
can crdte stuf
imagination," or

could be improrcd b-vrelating it


rnore [o student's owrt <xPerieocesrreducing repetition in' the
curriculum, and foorsing on,other
13%
Group proiects
culrures. It is s<lrth nodng lhat
11%
Field trips
onl.v
7 percert of the students
13%
Less reading
1l%
mentioned that the Eachers themRole-playing and sirnulations
tl%
selvesneed to impr$'e bY being
Clars activities
1l%
Independeot work
more enthusiasdcor beiag doser
lls
Class dircussion
emodonallyto their students.Sru'
Student planning
9%
denu preferred to foors their com'
t'b
Less lecnue
rnentson teachingmethod-r,and
Challenging leaming
content. The,vrePoned few Prob7%
e:tperiences
*'ith teachersas individuals'
lems
7%
Clear examples
Another obserration can be
made about tfte students'responses about why they preferred anotber subiecrto social sntdiesand
in an" were qpical resPon.csthe students' recornmendationsfor
Other studena felt rhat their fax>r'
opportu'
improving sor:ial snrdies. Earlier,
more
provided
ite subiect
r*ren snrdentswere asked about
nity to use the information imme'
**nr they found to be interesting
diately or they saw direct career
about social smdies, their respon'
applicaftrns. "Becausefbusiness
ses orrerrr*relmingly inroived refer'
lav;l pertains more to Ycu; we iust
ences to social gudies conrent
got done doing p unit onJ ninors
rather *ran teaching net.Ms'
and empk4tneat and that's q'here
we are rigtr't now" q,asa:'chaxactef,' However, w*ren *udenes vmre
asked why they preferred anothet
istic respoase.
subiect as thi:ir fsrDrite" the sruTh' dominant ieasons students
deng' rnost frequene t-spof!^se
pre{errtd theii: favorite coursesto
mencioned active leaming actiltisocid studies were that theY Pro
ties. Similarly, studentsf suggeS'
vided more varietYin insrruction
rions regarding how social srudies
and'more oppornrnitiesfor being
could be improved uniforr'nl-vfo'
succ.essful.while not su{prising,
cused on instrr.lctional metbods,
*rese reasonsdo strggestthar we
'Ihese findings suengtben,thecase
need to strire {or grc?ter rariety in
that studens auinrtles toqrard so'
insruction and for providing more
cial srudies can be irnproved if so'
opporhrnlcies for successif srudent
cial studic'steacherc irse {freater 1?'
attitudes tsward social studies are
rieqvand rnore active aPProacles
to cbange.
irr social studies. This idea is fur'
The need for urietv is reinther reinforced by earlier research
forced by the srudent respollssto
which cnncluded that teracherqual*re last question in the interview'
ity is a central variablewhich di*hich asi<erls,nrdentsto identiff
realy influencessrudents'anintde
nays the social studies could be
toward s<rial snrdies(Ilaladyrra e.r
iruproved. *s Table 7 indicates'
al. 1982).
a
call
were
their respxrnsesreally
for pmr"iding a greater rrarieryin
C,oaclu.slons
instructional methods,The most
lPhile one needs to be,caudous
frequent commentsaskedfor more
in overgeneralizing findin51sfrom
group proiecl1 feld trips, cla.qsacthis snrdy, it appsars drat -students
rivicies, role plals and simulstions,
do not consiclersocial studiesto
aswell as
and classdi.scussions,
be very imponant becauseit has
asking for more independent Froi'
linle meaning for their future lires.
ecf,sand a Ereaterrole for students
Apparentll', social educators have
in planning the curr.iculurn.Sorne
not done a gmd iob communicatadditionsl srudentrssponsessuging the importance of social studgesred how the subiectmatter
fablc 7 PercentageofStudent
Re.sponsesConcerning How Social
Studies Could Be Improl'ed.

ies to 1'oungpeople. students do


nor flnd social studies to be panic.
ularty interesting.Their atinrde to
lvard social snrdiesmight be rnore
accrrarel.ydescribed as indifference. In addition, srudenu feel
that both socid snrdies subiecr
nur$er and reaching methods are
simply broring.The patrem of snrdenr responsesclear$ suggests
that more active leaming ecpriencesand greater nriery in each.
ing methods are wals social snrdies insuuction could be improved.
References
Curry',R.L.& Hughie, H. (lXt5).
Selectedareaspreferred oyLhigh
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Farrnan,G., Natriello, G. & Dombusch,S^i{. (1978). Socid sndies and rnoti nion; High school
xudents' perceptions of rhe ar.
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Tbetxl' and Rqeercb in Social
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Fraser,BJ. (1981). Dereriorarion
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