Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 5, Number 3, Winter 2010
Student-centered teaching methods in the history classroom: Ideas, issues, and insights for new teachers
Robert W. Maloy
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst Regional Middle School, Amherst, Massachussetts
Using student-centered teaching methods presents a great challenge to many new middle and high school history teachers. Having experienced mostly teacher-centered instructional approaches (such as lectures and teacher-led discussions) in secondary school and college classes, they begin student teaching with few models for how to teach using less traditional forms of instruction. This paper discusses “Ideas, Issues, and Insights,” a strategy for prospective history teachers, as they explore the use of student-centered teaching methods with middle and high school students. It analyzes written reflection papers where history teacher candidates identify their ideas for three student-centered instructional methods — small group work, primary source analysis, and historical role-plays and simulations — as well as issues that arise when these student-centered methods are implemented in the classroom. As history teacher candidates respond to their ideas and issues, they generate insights about how they can best use student-centered teaching methods in their future classrooms. The first-person perspectives of history teacher candidates are highlighted to show how college students in one university-based teacher preparation program think about their student teaching experiences and their choice of instructional methods to use with students.
Key Words: Group Work, Instructional Methods, New Teacher Preparation, Primary Sources, Role Plays, Simulations, Student-Centered Teaching