Announcement of Ed.D. Proposal Defense Adam Gold: “A NEW ERA OF HISTORY TEACHING: HISTORY TEACHERS’ EXPERIENCES USING A THEMATIC APPROACH”
Thematic teaching of history is an uncommon practice in American public schools. Thematic instruction refers to reorganizing historical content from a strictly linear, chronological retelling to align historical events with inquiry-driven themes. Despite it being uncommon, a growing number of state-level content standards encourage the use of thematic instruction, including the state of Nevada, which reorganized its standards in 2018 to require a thematic approach. Clark County School District in Nevada, the fifth largest district in the country, recently chose to address this change in standards by asking that its history teachers shift from a strictly chronological approach to embrace the use of themes. This study seeks to understand the experience of teachers undergoing this shift in instructional practice through interviews, analysis of curricular artifacts, and classroom observations.
Driving this study are the following questions: What do US history teachers who teach thematically report about their experience transitioning to this approach?; How do US history teachers who teach thematically implement the approach in their classroom?; What do US history teachers who teach thematically report about the impact of teaching thematically on student understanding of social injustice? The first and third questions will be answered by conducting two phenomenological interviews of 8-10 history teachers that illuminate teacher perspectives on their classroom practices. The second question will be answered through the interviews and an analysis of classroom and district-wide documents that explain how the district and each teacher subject to the study implement thematic instruction. Overall, this study aims to provide insight into the experience of shifting from a strict chronological to a thematic approach for other teachers and education leaders considering making this same change in the future.
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