Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Chara H. Bohan

Second Advisor

Joseph Feinberg

Third Advisor

Yali Zhao

Fourth Advisor

Alyssa Dunn


World History classes are a required part of the social studies curriculum in nearly every state in America. Furthermore, use of primary sources in history classrooms as part of historical thinking skills are being integrated into the curricula of many districts and states across the country, in large part due to the Common Core State Standards and changes made in the Advanced Placement history curriculum. However, many students still require basic reading skills and struggle with understanding grade-level texts, let alone documents written thousands of miles away, hundreds of years ago in another language.

As a researcher, I sought to understand how successful teachers of struggling readers use primary sources to teach World History in the secondary classroom and fill a gap in the literature regarding the use of primary source documents with struggling readers of World History. While much literature exists about primary sources, about United States history, and about readers in general, very little exists about struggling readers in the World History classroom. A case study was conducted with two teachers of World History in a school with a majority of students identified as struggling readers to evaluate how successful teachers use primary source documents to teach World History to struggling readers. I found that these teachers used a consistent lesson plan that began with use of visuals to engage students, introduced content relevant to the sources, modeled effective reading and historical thinking strategies, and provided students time to practice the strategies modeled. These teachers also used culturally relevant pedagogy and care ethics in framing their pedagogy.