Date of Award

1-8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Yali Zhao

Second Advisor

Laura Meyers

Third Advisor

Barbara Meyers

Fourth Advisor

Chara Bohan

Abstract

Due to the demands of federal legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in particular, social studies instruction has become increasingly marginalized in elementary classrooms (Bollick, Adams, & Willox, 2010; Heafner, Lipscomb, & Fitchett, 2014; Holloway & Chiodo, 2009; Jones & Thomas, 2006; Morton & Dalton, 2007). One possible solution to this problem is to integrate social studies and reading instruction. This qualitative case study examined six third grade teachers’ perceptions of and experiences with social studies and reading as they attempted to integrate the two subjects through the use of economics book clubs in their classrooms over six weeks. The primary research question under investigation was: What impact does integrating economics with reading through book clubs have on six third grade teachers’ perceptions of social studies? The researcher prepared for and led professional development, split into two sessions, to teach the participants about integrating curriculum and book clubs. Then, data was triangulated (Stakes, 1995; Yin, 2003) by using multiple sources which included three focus group interviews, anecdotal notes from weekly planning meetings, two professional development sessions, weekly written reflections from each participant, and weekly lesson plans. The analysis of multiple data sets over time revealed that the participating teachers considered integrating economics and reading through book clubs a positive experience, an effective use of instruction time for both social studies and reading, and a meaningful approach to students’ active learning. While the teachers initially struggled to adjust to an integrated instructional method and many students being pulled out for special need services, upon observing students being highly engaged in learning, the teachers started to develop positive attitudes toward the curriculum integration and perceived the integrated book clubs as a worthwhile strategy to prioritize social studies instruction. The current study contributes to the field of social studies by providing empirical research on elementary teachers’ struggles and efforts with improving the state of elementary social studies instruction through innovative and integrated practices, specifically through the use of book clubs. The study also contributes to the field of social studies and reading content integration by focusing specifically on integrating economics with reading comprehension.

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