Uncovering Epistemic Frames of Mind and Practice in History and the Social Sciences: Research and Teaching in the Academy and Secondary Social Studies Classrooms

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This research study centers on how disciplinary epistemologies in history and the social sciences can inform practicing and preservice secondary social studies teachers in the United States about their pedagogical practices. Although research has been conducted on how students and historians develop “historical thinking,” there is a dearth of similar research for social science disciplines, such as economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and geography. This project seeks to expand the existing body of literature on how students and scholars develop disciplinary thinking through two distinct prongs. The first is an elective pilot social studies methods course that is oriented toward learning and teaching within history and individual social science disciplines. From the observational, survey, and interview data collected during this course on pre-service teachers’ perceived preparedness and efficacy in the field of social studies, research questions and interview protocols were developed and used in the second phase of the project, namely, interviewing history and social science faculty at American University about how they have developed disciplinary ways of thinking and how they approach inquiry within their fields. This project intends to contribute new research to the field of teacher education, develop a comprehensive bibliography for preservice and practicing secondary social studies teacher, and engage in ongoing cross-disciplinary conversations about teaching and learning among scholars in history and the social sciences.


Keywords: Epistemology, Teaching, Research, Qualitative, Social Studies, History
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: “How do you know what to Ask?”


Dr. Adrea Lawrence

Assitant Professor, School of Education, Teaching and Health
College of Arts and Sciences, American University

Washington, DC, USA

As a policy historian and the social studies specialist in the teacher education program at American University, my research interests extend from American Indian education to historical and qualitative research methodologies, to disciplinary learning and thinking within the social studies. I am especially interested in the epistemic frames that historians and social scientists operate from when conducting research and when teaching other people. I am also interested in developing dialogic research methodologies in history to better develop a hermeneutic understanding of past actors.

Ref: I08P0327