Date of Award

9-23-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Chara Bohan - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Lori Elliot

Third Advisor

Dr. Joseph Feinberg

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Caroline Sullivan

Abstract

During the past two centuries, the inclusion of religious content in social studies textbooks has dramatically changed. In the late 1800s, the progressive education movement ushered in new forms of religious content in social studies textbooks (Nord, 1999). Contemporary researchers have addressed the inclusion of religious content in the United States through various textbook studies (Bellito, 1996; Sewall, 1995). Very few studies, however, have been conducted that gauge social studies teachers’ perceptions of and beliefs about the manner in which religion should be included in the textbooks (Stone & Zam, 2006). The purpose of this mixed method research study is to examine social studies educators’ perceptions of and beliefs about the inclusion of religion in their textbooks. The theoretical framework guiding this study is John Dewey’s theory of the democratic ideal. The democratic ideal focuses on recognizing the importance of mutual interest and diverse interaction that leads to a democratically constituted society (Dewey, 1944). Quantitative and qualitative methods were employed in this research study. Participants included 193 members of a professional social studies education association located in the Southeastern region of the United States. Data collection occurred during the third week in January of 2008 via a web-survey. The survey included closed and open-ended questions. The closed-ended questions were statistically analyzed through the use of descriptive statistics and Pearson’s chi-square test. The open-ended questions were qualitatively examined through the use of the NVivo software program. The quantitative results revealed the vast majority of educators (97%) believed that religion should be included in the textbooks. Statistically significant associations between race, teaching position, and level of education revealed that these groups were not satisfied with the current inclusion of religion and that future textbooks should include more religious content. The qualitative analysis further showed educators’ dissatisfaction with the current inclusion of religion and demonstrated a need to provide more in-depth inclusion of religion in the textbooks. Very few educators stated they were satisfied with the inclusion of religion in the textbooks. These research findings suggest that future social studies textbooks should include more religious content pertaining to historical and contemporary events.

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