Engaging with socioconstructivist pedagogy: four social studies preservice teachers' understandings and experiences in contemporary classrooms
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This dissertation, a qualitative case study conducted from an interpretive epistemological stance, focuses on the understanding and implementation of socioconstructivist pedagogy by two middle school and two high school social studies preservice teachers during their apprentice (student) teaching semester. The means by which the participants facilitate socioconstructivist instructional design, and within it, historical thinking, is of primary interest in this study in which the intricate circumstances of diverse classrooms and beginning teachers provide a rich context. The resulting successes and negotiations derived by data analysis include four themes. The first entails the classroom context and resulting logistics of student teaching during the preservice teachers’ apprentice teaching semester; the second explores the participants’ thinking as they adopt these new pedagogical approaches; the third involves the selection of course materials, navigation of the standardized curriculum as well as efforts with lesson planning; the fourth and final theme investigates the actual classroom praxis of socioconstructivist pedagogy and historical thinking by the study participants. Findings focus on three areas of interest. First, that epistemological stance plays a significant role in the preservice teachers’ adoption and development of socioconstructivist pedagogy; second, the classroom community is essential to the creation of a student-centered learning environment; and finally, that the preservice teachers’ partial appropriation of both socioconstructivist pedagogy and historical thinking is an area needing improvement to achieve ultimate success with these pedagogical approaches. Implications indicate that first, preservice teacher education programs should be built upon the examination of foundational epistemology. The second implication has direct impact on the university and practice teaching classroom in that preservice teachers need more opportunities to participate and observe socioconstructivist lessons as exemplary models. The third and final implication demands structural consideration of the comprehensive implementation of socioconstructivist pedagogy.