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ERIC Number: ED548497
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 264
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-2514-0
PBL? A Case Study of Inquiry Learning in a Secondary Civics Course
Hessberg, Kevin
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia
Youth civic engagement in the United States is at an all time low (Barber 1998; Galston, 2004, Owen, 2008). Youth are routinely characterized as civically apathetic, disengaged, and ignorant (Niemi & Junn, 1998; Putnam, 2000; Ravitch & Finn, 1987). Or, as Owen (2008) succinctly puts it, "young people in America have long anchored the low end of the good citizenship chart" (p. 7). Nonetheless, scholars affirm the need for effective participatory citizens in a democracy (Barber, 1998; Putnam, 2000; Sapiro, 2004). And, they look to the social studies to help promote youth civic education (Galston, 2001; Parker, 1996a). Moreover, a growing body of research indicates that school-based civic education and engaging classroom practices can influence students' civic knowledge, skills and dispositions (Galston, 2001, 2004; Kahne & Middaugh, 2010; Niemi & Junn, 1998). Despite the growing body of evidence, many social studies classrooms default to frequent teacher talk and student recitation related to textbook analysis and worksheet completion (Hahn, 2010; Hess, 2002). However, teachers who enact constructivist teaching strategies in civics classrooms positively impact students' civic knowledge, skills and dispositions (Carnegie/CIRCLE, 2003; Hahn, 2010). Problem-based learning reflects the key characteristics of constructivism and holds the potential to teach students' critical civics skills and knowledge. Currently, there is a dearth of research on the model in social studies, and within civic education in particular. The purpose of this single embedded case study was to explore the role problem-based learning plays developing civic knowledge, skills and dispositions to promote civic education among adolescent youth. The questions addressed in the study explored how civics teachers conceptualized a problem-based learning experience, what factors impacted the implementation of the experience, and what student outcomes and understandings were demonstrated by the experience. Findings indicated that the teachers' individual and shared beliefs and perspectives informed the purpose of the inquiry experience. Also, the study revealed that teachers designed the experience based on what they thought their students needed to learn regarding civic knowledge, skills and dispositions. Ultimately, the teachers' design varied from their implementation. Finally, analysis indicated that civic outcomes varied between and within the student groups. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A